Interview with Nellie Cavell

Nellie Cavell was born Nellie Pitton in the province of Pordenone in the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Her father arrived in Canada first to establish a life for when Nellie and her mother Antonia arrived. When they came to Canada they moved to Paul River, BC when they stayed until Nellie was in grade four and then moved to Strathcona. Nellie’s two sisters were both born in BC. After finishing her schooling, Nellie began her first job as a stenographer with the Italian Consulate in Dr. Brancucci’s Vancouver office. Nellie recounts her fond relationship with Dr. Barncucci and explains that she did not share his fascist views although she did join the Circolo Roma when he asked her to. On June 10, 1940, Dr. Brancucci came bursting into the office saying, “Siamo in Guerra!” He then proceeded to ask his staff, including Nellie, to burn some documents and papers in the building’s furnace. Two days later, Nellie arrived at the office to find that it had been closed, and Dr. Brancucci and his family had been placed under house arrest. Nellie was told by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) that she was an enemy alien and was forced to report monthly—a process which Nellie describes as mortifying. She and her family members strongly considered themselves to be proud Canadians and had no interest in fascist organizations.