Interview with Grace Tomasicchio

Grace Tomasicchio was born on December 29, 1932 in Toronto, ON. Grace was one of seven children born to Italian immigrants, Maria Rosa (Rose) Maiorana and Giuseppe (Joe) Tomasicchio. Grace’s parents and her uncle first arrived in New York City in 1912 aboard the America before moving to Toronto. Grace explains that her parents had a good life back home and were both educated and that their reason for immigrating was different than other  immigrants. According to Grace, her father wanted to move to America where the streets were “paved in gold.” However, the young newlyweds arrived to face hostility where signs read, “No Italians” or “Italians need not apply.” After a fruitless job search and the unfortunate death of their first son, the Tomasicchios moved to Toronto shortly after.

On June 10, 1940, Grace was seven years old. She remembers being in her family’s store, Select Linen, when two plain clothes Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers, came in looking for her father. They arrested him and escorted him in their police car to the family home, which they recklessly searched. Grace recalls the family visits to the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds to see her dad during his detainment. She also recalls testifying at her father’s trial in an attempt to get him released from Camp Petawawa. Grace talks at length about her family life and her school experiences before, during, and after her father’s internment. She also says that after her father’s release he became a hard man and his love for opera singing ceased. Grace firmly believes that her experiences during what she calls the “concentration times” shaped who she is today. Lastly, she explains that her decision to have a big family and to relocate to California is a result of her experiences during World War II.