Interview with Sal Pantalone

Salvatore Pantalone was born in 1924; the fourth child in a family of three other boys and one girl. His parents, Fred Rocco and Antoinetta Pantalone were born in Abruzzo and Lazio, Italy but met and were married in Ottawa. Sal’s father, Fred, was an Ottawa firefighter, and worked to help contain the fire of 1916 at the Canadian Parliament buildings. He was extremely passionate about his career and was promoted twice to reach the position of Lieutenant, which created some jealousy and discrimination — resulting in his car being scratched while at an evening event for the fire department. Sal explains that his father was demoralized and embarrassed when arrested and handcuffed in front of his men in June of 1940. His father was interned at camp Petawawa for approximately seven months before returning home to find that his career with the fire department was gone. He was heartbroken to discover that the union had voted 100% against having him return to his job. Sal adds that the most traumatizing event for the children was seeing their father return home after his release with hair that had changed from black to whitish-grey. The family faced financial difficulty with the loss of their father’s job, so Sal joined the Canadian navy at 16 in order to help provide support. Fred Pantalone was soon given a position with the navy as well, which led to a career after the war with the Canadian Joint Staff in Washington where he spent many happy years with his wife. Sal believes that his father was not a victim of the actions of the Canadian government, but rather “a victim of Italy declaring war against us.” His father did receive a letter of apology from Justice Hyndman, saying that he was an innocent man and that he never should have been interned.