Photograph of internees
Double row of 11 internees; five are standing on a birch bench in the back. All seem to be wearing heavier clothes and jackets. The group is positioned in front of a building whose facing seems to be comprised of studded wood planks with two framed windows.
Photograph is dated in black ink to 1942. Given comparisons to other photographs in this collection, this picture was likely taken in the fall at Fredericton Internment Camp, where the remaining Italian Canadian internees were transferred in July 1942. Although no identification card is used, the formal setting suggests it could have been taken by a government official. The white "44" appearing in the image body in the lower right corner likely was introduced during photo processing.
Second from the far left in the back row is Rocco Perri, a notorious mobster from Hamilton, ON. Perri's right hand rests on Osvaldo Giacomelli's shoulder. In Perri's case, it appears that the Canadian authorities used the War Measures Act to confine a known bootlegger, gangster and murderer, whom they had failed to convict under criminal law. Perri had no known connections to fascism. In fact, in the 1920s Benito Mussolini launched a brutal crackdown on the Italian mafia. He saw the illicit organization as a threat to fascism and his own power, and exiled or jailed thousands of suspected Siclian mobsters.
This photograph belongs to a collection compiled by Italian Canadian internee Osvaldo Giacomelli. Previous to his death, he had spoken on the record about his internment to journalists and academics. Some suggestion has been made that Giacomelli was a fascist supporter and Mussolini-adherent. He was one of the longest-serving of the Italian Canadian internees, released on May 29, 1945. Giacomelli himself felt that he was wrongfully interned, and sued the Government of Canada in 2005. When Giacomelli died in March of 2006, his case was still unresolved.