Interview with Joseph Mastromonaco

Joseph Mastromonaco was a child during World War II living in Montreal’s working-class area of Saint-Henri. His father, Giovanni Mastromonaco, born in Italy, was one of the Italians interned from that city. He describes the neighbourhood; the Italian community and its relationship with other ethnic groups; his childhood, including some struggles with stuttering; and the emotional consequences of his father’s absence during his early formative years. Some reference is made to the role of the Catholic Church and the early work of immigrants as “fornachaires” – those who kept the furnace and grounds of the wealthy residents of Westmount. He also describes his understanding of the function of the Fascist Party and the Sons of Italy, and the perception of Mussolini by the Italians of Montreal and Saint-Henri. He describes the day the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested his father in their home, and the efforts of his mother to learn of her husband’s whereabouts, including a frustrating experience with a Liberal aide, and later trips to Petawawa.