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L'histoire d'immigration de Giuseppe Martino (immigrant italien)

Le Musée examine et accepte les dons de souvenirs et d'histoires, personnelles ou familiales, à la collection. En tant qu'institution pédagogique, ces récits nous aident à comprendre comment les individus se souviennent d'expériences vécues, comment ils les interprètent ou, encore, comment ils créent un sens à partir de celles-ci. Les histoires ne sont pas modifiées par le personnel du Musée. Le point de vue exprimé est celui de l'auteur et non celui du Musée.

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March 16 1954
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A Little Stroll into My Past - Giuseppe Martino, Toronto July 21, 2001

I came to came to Canada on March 16, 1954 with my wife, Fortunata Caterina Martino, born D'Agostino, July 21, 1933; and my son Mauro Francesco. He was born March 29, 1953. I was born November 21, 1930.

We were born in San Nicola Da Crissa, in the province of Catanzaro, in the region of Calabria, Italy. On April 16, 1958, our daughter Silvana Caterina was born in Toronto.

Today we have five wonderful grandchildren: Adriano 21, Mila 19, Vasil 15, Daniele 14, and Alessandro 13. Adriano, Daniele and Alessandro and my daughter's children and Mila and Vasil are my son's.

Our son Mauro has been teaching high school for 22 years. Our daughter Silvana has been teaching for 4 years in an elementary school. Our grandson Adriano will be starting his third year at university this September 2001. He too wants to become a high school teacher. I hope that all my grandchildren have a good education. This is my wish God Bless Them.

My son, my wife and I left Naples aboard the Saturnia on the fifth of March. I had $888 of debts to pay to my father-in-law Nicola D'Agostino. He came to Toronto October 1950. My brother-in-law Salvatore came in May 1951. Then came my mother-in-law Rosa, with her five-year-old son, Rosario in 1953.

My father-in-law bought a house for $11,300 at 229 Concord Street, west Ossignton, south of Bloor St where we went to live for ten months. Also we left some debts back home of $50.

I had nothing back home. I was very poor. My parents also were very poor. There were seven people in my family: my mother Caterina Malfara, my father Francesco Martino and my brothers Rocco, Vittorio and Vito and my sister Maddalena.

At one time we only had one room 8 x15 which became our dining, bed, living, bathroom and kitchen. Was that too small? No, not at all. That room was warm; warm with love- God was with us. That's all we need in life. One time my father told me. Son, I need only one fork, one spoon one dish and one frying pan. What he meant was I don't need much. That's the way I feel too. He was a simple man, a quiet man, a good man for the family. My mother? Always happy with a warm beautiful smile. That's the way I remember them.

That day when we left town, my father and my mother came to say goodbye. In tears, she hugged me and said, Go my son, go with God and God bless you. Her tears blended with mine, After I Acquired a job and received my first cheque I sent them some money. After that I always helped them. They were very dear to me.

We landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia at Pier 21 in March on the 16th. We arrived in Toronto by Train, March 16th. On April 19, 1954, I started working at 1179 King Street West at Toronto Carpet with 700 employees. I was number 700. When I retired on December 13, 1990 my seniority number was #3.

I started working for 85c/hour. For the first 18 years I was working from 7am to 10 pm Monday to Thursday and Friday to 4 pm. Most of the time even Saturday and Sunday and on my holidays. I never had time, breakfast, noon hour they paid me time and a half. I did that for my family. My family was my life. It still is.

It was very hard. Sometime I felt like going to sleep for days. I was very tied, but I did it with love. Not only the work was hard, but also the language and culture. Back then, it was forbidden for us to stop and have a conversation with our co-workers. We only talked about the things in our past back home, or our life in Canada. Maybe the police thought we were all Mafiosi (Mafia). Sometime they told us in a loud voice to move and to keep working. Other times they called us Wogs, Degos or DP's That was very stupid, arrogant and outrageous. Well today I am sure they know better and I forgive them.

Today, I can say with all my heart and without fear I'm Canadian! Today, I can say with love, This is out land. Yours and mine. God Bless Canada. This land of mine has been good to me. This is a great country, a beautiful country. One of the best. If not the best country in the whole world. This is what I believe, that's what I feel.

I still love Italy, the land where I was born. At 71, I will go back to defend the land where I was born, with my life. At 71, I will defend this land, this lovely country, Canada until the last drop of my blood. I love Canada very deeply. This is my land. This is my home sweet home.

After one year, we paid off all our debts with a thank you. In 1958, we bought out first home for $16,500. In'63 we had to leave because the Bloor Subway was being built. The city of Toronto bought it for $16,600. Our share was $9,000. With $16,500 we bought a bigger and better home. We still live in this warm and lovely home. Thanks to Canada.

In 1956 I requested my brothers Vito and Vittorio come to Canada. Vito came in August'56 and Vittorio in December of that same year.

In Italy when I was ten years old, I went to learn how to become a barber. The barbershop belonged to a friend of my family's. My grandfather, Giuseppe Martino had a barbershop. Also, my father was a barber until 1935. I spent two years there and I learned a few things. From time to time I still cut my own hair. Doing so, I feel good in my heart. Then, at 12 years old, I went to a tailor shop and I stayed there for two years also. I learned a few things there. I still make things for my family and myself. That too, makes me feel good.

Then I tried to work to work on a farm and at construction and also, for two weeks at the water mill at the River Fella', just a trot from my town.

Finally at the age of 17, I started to become a mediocre shoemaker. From 15 to 18 years old I played soccer-right wing. At 19 years old, I was in a play at a theatre three times; two performances in my hometown and once in a town 40 km away. I had a dramatic role in the play. The last time I was in my hometown there were 2000 people more or less. At the end of the play we received an ovation. That prolonged applause is still with me.

Memories. Everything I have done in my life I keep them in a place where I feel good. In my heart, wherever I go, I'll take it with me.

When I was a little boy I wanted to become a doctor. Then I became a mediocre shoemaker and that, was good. That's what God wanted me to be. I only went to grade five. I have to confess that I even finished that with difficulty.

In 1984, I stated to write novellas- small novels. As of today, I have written 10 novellas in Italian and 12 in English. Until 1997, I didn't know how to write more than 100 words. What I do know today, I learned without schooling.

Today, without pretense, I can say that I speak Italian, English and a little Spanish. I love to write. I do this with my soul. I believe that all things I do on my pathway of life, was written by God. I just want to make clear that I am not a writer. I do this for my soul and that is enough for me. I believe that this was in me and I never knew it until 1984.

Now I would like to go back in time to Italy, August 1953. It was a wonderful night. The air was warm and pleasant. A full silver moon up above was looking down on my hometown. The stars studded the bright sky of San Nicola Da Crissa; the town where I was born. I must confess that the sky of Calabria is one of the most beautiful in the whole world.

I have touched the four corners of the earth and yet, I haven't seen a sky full of bright starts like that. They seem so close that you want to stretch your arms and take one, especially the Orsa major. What can I say about the Milky Way? It's divinely beautiful. So that beautiful night, I said to my wife I'm taking a stroll with our son Mauro, She looked at me and said, Be careful and come home soon.

We left our home and I took the road toward the River Fella'. If I were alone, I would have pissed my pants. I was afraid of ghosts. I still am. I had my son in my arms. He was sucking his thumb and sleeping. He was five months old. When I went near the bridge, the Due Mari- I stopped. The sound of a small natural stream of fresh water was going down to merge with the River Fella'. On my right, up the hill, was the town cemetery.

The light of the bright moon illuminated the cemetery walls. At this point my eyes were dimmed with tears. I kissed my son on the forehead and I whispered. Son, I promise you that in Canada I'll do my best to help my family. I'll work hard to bring a piece of bread to our table and some day, we'll have our own home.

Well I'm sure that I did my best. I did it with great love. Without ever asking for anything back. My family is my life. This is my reward.

I know that God helped me. He was with me all along. He still is.

God, take my hand, and walk with me.