Interview with Antoinette (Toni) McDermott
Antoinette (Toni) Olivieri was born in Hamilton, ON. Her grandfather, Antonio Olivieri, owned a grocery store on Sherman Ave. in Hamilton. She describes both the commercial and social activities that took place there. Antonio and his wife migrated from Italy in the 1920s to Canada and pursued many entrepreneurial activities - family business affairs - upon arrival. She describes the family’s involvement with St. Anthony’s Church and the role the Church played in the Italian community in Hamilton. In the interview, Toni reads from her mother’s diary, citing passages that describe the sense of fear growing throughout the Italian community as the war progressed. She suggests her grandfather was interned on the grounds of his involvement with the Sons of Italy in Hamilton, but repeatedly emphasizes his pride of being Canadian and holding no grudges despite his nearly two-month long internment. The journal entries describe how her grandfather changed as a result of the interment, acknowledging how reticent he was about talking about the event at home and to family members. As time passes, she describes how her grandfather quickly returned to his former self, a warm, open and joyful man – who love music and family - that helped numerous Italian immigrants out and remained active in the Italian-Canadian community. She does comment on discrimination her family felt later on during the post-war period when their family moved to a new neighborhood in Hamilton. The interview concludes with a short description of the handcarved wooden objects her grandfather made in camp, a wooden spoon and letter opener, as well as descriptions of select family photographs. Antoinette also describes the impact and importance this project has had on her personally.