Interview with Teresa Pateras

Teresa Pateras was born in the Montreal neighbourhood of Mile End in 1929. She was born to Salvatore Pateras, a tailor who was born in Italy, and his wife, who was born in Montreal to Italian parents. Teresa’s early life was centered around her large extended family. Her grandparents had 12 children, and some of her aunts and uncles were her own age. She herself had two younger brothers. Her father worked as a tailor, and eventually he operated his own clothing manufacturing business which Teresa worked at as a bookkeeper. Teresa’s father took care not to be involved with any of the fascist organizations that sprang up around the time of Mussolini’s rise to power. He was adamantly non-political, but was nonetheless implicated as a fascist when he happened to pose for a photograph at a church feast day with some men who were known fascists. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested Salvatore from his workplace on June 10, 1940 and later came to search his home. He was interned for nine months at Petawawa. Although he had been the main breadwinner in his family, his wife and children managed well financially in his absence. When Teresa thinks about that time, she is not sure how her mother was able to maintain the family’s standard of living during that year. She speculates that her grandparents helped. She also relates that her grandfather bought her mother a house after she and the children were evicted from their apartment after Salvatore’s arrest. In terms of her father’s internment, Teresa believes that the men were well treated. However, she also thinks that the Canadian government shirked its responsibility by wrongfully arresting men who had nothing to do with fascist organizations, and that it should have researched its arrests more carefully.