Interview with Italo Tiezzi

Italo Tiezzi was born in Ottawa, ON on March 12, 1933. His mother, Rosa Tiezzi (née Di Nardo), was born in Canada on September 8, 1911 and his father, Gino Tiezzi, was born in Florence, Italy on July 1, 1904. Gino grew up in Italy, with his mother working as a governess for the Marchese Guadagni. He then immigrated to Canada with his mother and the Marchese who hoped to become a gentleman farmer. Unfortunately they arrived in Quebec in the middle of winter and life in Canada was not what the Marchese expected. The farm failed and Gino and his mother moved to Montreal and then to Hull. Due to Hull’s close proximity to Ottawa, Gino soon became affiliated with the Ottawa community and St. Anthony’s Church where he met his wife, Rose. Italo recounts his father’s early introduction to and admiration of fascism and Mussolini and his father’s involvement in various social organizations in Ottawa. He recounts the events in and around June 10, 1940 when his father was arrested. Italo’s father was one of the few internees who was interned at Petawawa, released and then re-interned. Upon his re-internment his father was held in jail for 60 days before being transferred to Petawawa and then Fredericton. During this time, Italo’s family struggled to make ends meet, but due to the strong will of his mother and assistance from the community they were able to survive. Italo’s mother took a job at a bakery and then with the government where she was able to save 7000 dollars. His mother also took it upon herself to lobby for her husband’s release speaking to various agents and judges on his behalf. Gino was one of the last internees to be released on September 8, 1943. When he returned home he was not able to go back to his old job and instead had to take a number of menial jobs until young Italo suggested his parents buy a store that was for sale. His parents were able to do so using the money his mother had saved up and the family grocery store soon became an important gathering place on Preston Street and for the Italian community. After his return Gino would recount stories of his internment and seemed to understand the government’s rationale for interning him. However, Italo notes that stories about the internment ceased four years after his release when Italo’s brother Silvio, the oldest son, died in a car accident. Despite these hardships the family succeeded and Italo recounts a happy life, however, he notes that he had a much harder time accepting the internment and the suffering it brought than his parents.