Interview with Nicholas Zaffiro

Nicholas Zaffiro was born in Hamilton, Ontario on March 14, 1930. His father, Francesco Zaffiro, was sponsored by an uncle and came to Canada in 1926 from Racalmuto, Sicily. This uncle, Gaetano Girgenti, lent Francesco money to open a shoemaker shop. Francesco returned to Italy in 1928 to marry his fiancée, Maria Maddalena Licata, and then brought her to Hamilton. Francesco was heavily involved in the fascio and the Sons of Italy in Hamilton, two organizations which met at St. Anthony's Church. He was attracted to the fascio after seeing the good things that Mussolini's reforms had brought to his community in Sicily. Francesco knew that he was going to be arrested if war broke out, considering his involvement in these organizations. After his arrest he was held at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds in Toronto and then transferred to Camp Petawawa and finally Camp Fredericton. Nicholas speaks of his father's courage during his interment and the way he acted as a leader to others in the camp. Throughout the war, Nicholas’ mother worked at Coppley, Noyes and Randall and also maintained the household, for example coming home every lunch hour to make food. Nicholas was also a prominent member of the Sons of Italy and speaks about the creation of the Sons of Italy Charitable Corporation and the creation of Villa Italia retirement home. He speaks about his disappointment that the Casa d'Italia, which was built by his father's generation, was confiscated and sold. He also speaks about his hope that redress money, if it is given to McMaster University, will inspire younger generations to learn about Italian culture.