Grade one class photograph, Villanova School, ca. 1934

Black and white photograph of the grade one class at Villanova School in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Frank Martinello can be seen in the centre of the back row wearing a black turtleneck and white suspenders; he is resting his hand on his classmate in front of him. The Villanova School was founded in 1920 and this photograph was taken outside the one building schoolhouse in 1934.

Frank's father Felice (Felix) Martiniello first immigrated to Canada for work in the mid-1920s. At immigration, Canadian officials changed his last name to Martinello, losing one of the “i”s. In 1926, he was joined by his wife and daughter. The family then moved to Sydney, Nova Scotia, settling in the Whitney Pier area where the family grew to include another seven children; one of which did not survive infancy.

Felice Martinello was arrested on June 10, 1940 as he returned home from his day of work at the Dominion Steel and Coal Company. Martiniello was taken to the city jail, where a fight broke out between the Italian detainees and other prisoners. He was transferred to Petawawa Internment Camp and later transferred to Camp Fredericton.

While interned, his family struggled to make ends meet. Martiniello’s wife was denied government assistance until she used up all the family’s assets, including the sale of the family home. She refused. Instead, the children helped out as best they could. The older boys snared rabbits and caught fish. They delivered newspapers and shone shoes. Florence became the live-in housekeeper of a well-to-do relative. The younger girls looked after neighbourhood babies and toddlers.