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L’histoire de l’immigration de Luisa Berton (née Gianese) (immigrante italienne)

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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April 6 2001

In September 1951 , my mother, my sister Adriana, my sister Laura and myself landed in Halifax to be reunited with our father who had immigrated to B.C. a few years earlier.

We were born in Bassano Del Grappa in the province of Vicenza, Italy. My older sister and I were born during the war and my younger sister was born immediately after. We were fortunate that we did not suffer the terrible tribulations bestowed upon many people at that time. Life wasn’t easy for my parents, but we had the necessities of life.

For more than one reason my parents decided to move to Canada. This was made easier because my father had a married sister who sponsored him.

My father came in 1949 by plane and moved in with his sister and brother-in-law who lived in the small hamlet of Monte Creek, B.C. He found work with the Canadian Pacific Railway and after six months he transferred to Kamloops, B.C. where he rented rooms in a house.

Dad subsequently sponsored us and on August 23, 1951, we embarked at Genoa on the ship “Cone Bianacamano”. We arrived in Halifax at Pier 21 on September 4. Our passports were scrutinized, stamped, then, along wit other immigrants, we were put on a train and everyone departed to their separate destinations. The train ride was most uncomfortable. I remember the hard wooden seats, the screeching of the brakes every time it stopped and the charcoal smoke entering the compartment whenever a window was opened. Luckily, when we arrived in Montreal we transferred to another train. Our tip west seemed endless. We were in awe in the vastness of the country. It took four days and three nights to reach Kamloops.

We did not know a word of English but managed to make ourselves understood. We did meet some caring people that offered us food and assistance. I remember a couple getting off the train to stretch their legs, and when they came back they had four big ice cream cones for us. Dad met us in Medicine Hat in Alberta and accompanied us to our home in Kamloops. My sister and I were immediately enrolled at Lloyd George Public School and later to St. Anne’s Academy. To this day, I don’t know how we learned English because, back then, there was no “English as a second language” course, but we did learn and continued on with our studies. Most of our English teachers were from the British Isles and after all these years people can detect an English accent.

Because there were very few Italians living in Kamloops at that time, anyone settling there would somehow find their way to our house. My parents would help in some way or other. My mom and dad were very caring and concerned parents. They sent us to school even though there wasn’t much money. They looked beyond the moment and wanted us to be able to take care of ourselves and an education was the way to go.
In 1956 we moved to Windsor, Ontario. Again, because they thought there was more work opportunities. We continued on with our schooling, started working, got married and between the three of us raised seven responsible children.

In 1975 my older sister moved back to Italy at the wishes of her husband and is very happy there.

My mother died in 1998 at the age of 83 and my father died a year later at the age of 84. They lived an exemplary life and were highly regarded by their co-workers and friends. They taught us all the prized values that they had learned from their parents: to be responsible citizens; hard workers; caring human beings and the love of God.