Interview with Teresa Mongiat

Teresa Mary Mongiat (née Bertoli) was born in Italy on June 1, 1924. In December of 1930, the Bertolis immigrated to Toronto, Canada and settled within the Friulani community in the Junction. Teresa’s family relied on relief (welfare), as her mother did not work and her father, being sickly, was on and off work. Teresa recalls her family renting and living with other families, stating that at one point there were eight kids living in the house. Teresa doesn’t speak of this in negative light; in fact she cherishes the way everyone shared and helped each other. In 1940, Teresa was 16 years old, and found it hard to secure a job because she was Italian. She finally found work as a domestic, working for an Italian family. It was during this time, that Teresa was ordered by the RCMP to report to the local police station. Teresa feels that her enemy alien designation during World War II was due to her Italian birth and because she did not possess citizen papers, like her parents. Teresa explains that at first she had to report weekly, and then monthly. She was finally relieved from her reporting duties when she complained of its inconvenience. During the war, Teresa changed jobs and worked in a plumbing warehouse; she talks briefly about the changing role of women as they entered the workforce. Also in this interview, Teresa talks about social events she attended at various Italian Canadian community organizations. In the postwar period, Teresa helped new immigrants, who did not speak English, by accompanying them to doctor’s appointments and/or immigration offices.