Photograph of wooden model ship carved by internee, 2010 - solo in inglese

Photograph of wooden model ship (stained and painted) carved by an internee while interned. It depicts an ocean liner, the passenger ship used by pre-World War II Italian emigrants to arrive at their points of destination. This model ship is not named. The ship depicts multiple cabin levels below deck, lifeboats, two masts and riggings, among other details. It has a central cavity accessed from below in which a light can be placed. The cabin windows then appear lit. The ship sits on a wooden base.

The actual model was on loan for the exhibition by Nancy Bertolotti and family. The Bertolottis believes this ship was carved by an Italian Canadian internee and given to Giuseppe Cancilla, Nancy’s grandfather and a Toronto grocer, in appreciation and gratitude for the food and support he provided to the internee’s family.  There is no supporting documentation to prove this provenance.

Letters from the camps relate how many of the men occupied their time by carving wood. Many internees brought wooden objects home to their families, including mirrors, painted reliefs, jewellery boxes,serving trays and ships.

Other ship carvings made in camp have been noted in the video interviews. Frank Martinello still cherishes a bottled wooden ship that his father Felice Martiniello brought home from camp. Alessandro Biffi remembers playing as a child with wooden rowboats that his father Alberto Severo Biffi brought home. Italo Tiezzi's has a photograph showing him as a child holding the ship that his father Gino Tiezzi gave him.