Interview with Gerard Di Battista & Victor Di Battista

Gerard and Victor Di Battista are the sons of Luigi Di Battista, an Italian immigrant who came to Canada in 1913. Luigi married a woman 10 years his junior in 1919 and together they had nine children. The family ran a store in Lachine and Luigi operated a barber shop business. Both Gerard and Victor, along with the other Di Battista children, were born in Lachine and grew up in that multi-ethnic neighbourhood before their father was interned. On June 10,1940, Luigi was arrested and interned at Camp Petawawa as an enemy alien. His family found itself in difficult financial circumstances as a result of this. They relocated to Saint-Henri, Montreal, and lived in small accommodations infested with rodents. Eventually, the older Di Battista children found work and the family situation improved. It was at this time that Gerard enlisted in the Canadian army, although the war ended before he saw any fighting. While his son was away on training, Luigi was released from custody and came home. He found work as a barber again. Both Victor and Gerard believe that their father was different after he came out of the internment camp, particularly in the privacy of his home. They describe him as quiet and taciturn in private, although he was a popular figure in public. They believe that the Canadian government has neglected the issue of Italian internment during World War II, and that families should be compensated for the difficulties the internments caused.