Interview with Peter Butti

Peter Henry Lawrence Butti was born on July 30, 1935 in Edmonton, Alberta to Enrico (Henry) Butti and Myra Cantera. Peter Henry Lawrence was named after his grandfather, Peter ― the first in his family to come to Canada from Italy in 1912 under a mining work contract as an electrical engineer. After Peter had established a life in Canada, his wife, Ida, and children (Henry and Rosina) were able to join him in 1917. Henry also worked in the mines, counting cars when he was just 15 or 16 years old before the family moved to Edmonton in 1925.  Henry married Myra Cantera in 1929 and had three children: Peter, Rosemarie, and Josephine. Peter’s parents were very involved in community life as his father helped build the Italian church and his mother established the Edmonton Dante Alighieri and taught Italian to children there. Peter recounts his fond memories of his childhood in Edmonton, including stories of US officers staying at the Butti family home; encounters with scarlet fever; and helping his dad with his work in the refrigeration business. Peter also explains that he played on a hockey team associated with the Detroit Red Wings, against teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs. When Peter was only about six years old his parents were both designated as enemy aliens, and he recounts going to the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) headquarters with parents for their monthly reporting and being asked questions about his parents’ behavior. Peter explains that his father was a proud Canadian, hated Benito Mussolini, and that they were classified as enemy aliens because of a misunderstanding about their citizenship. Following the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Peter was also trained as an electrician at SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology), Alberta. He and his wife Olivia were married in 1955 and together they have two children (Barry and Corrine), and nine grandchildren.