Skip to the main content


Addolorata Salvatorelli-Di Falco
May 1954

Translated from original text written in Italian by Addolorata Salvatorelli-Di Falco

My name is Addolorata Salvatorelli-Di Falco. I married Giuseppe Di Falco on October 28, 1939. My husband and I lived in the same town and our families were longtime friends. We worked on one of the local farms. When we married we lived with my mother-in-law who was a widow; her husband having been killed during World War II. Three of my husband's brothers managed to leave Italy before WWII and immigrated to Canada, but with the coming of the war, emigration stopped. Life was hard in a small town following WWII, and with raising four daughters and an expected dowry for each one, we too decided to emigrate. My husband came to Canada in August 1951 to give his family a better life. My four daughters and I immigrated to Canada in 1954.

We came from Vasto, Province of Chieti in the country of Italy. We left Vasto on May 12, to go to Napoli to board a ship bound for Canada. We boarded a ship called "Saturnia", which docked in several cities such as Genova, Barcellona, and Gibralter, finally arriving in Halifax on May 27, 1954. The trip was very good, although Grazia and Gemma were ill during the crossing. In Italy, I left my parents, two sisters and a brother. It was very hard to leave my family, but unfortunately, I had to be strong because I had four very young daughters to take care of: Angela who was 13 years old, Grazia, 11 years, Maria Paola, 8 years and Gemma, 6 years old.

When we arrived in Halifax, we had to go through customs, it was quite difficult because I did not understand the English language at all, and of course, they did not understand Italian. There was a Roman Catholic priest waiting with us and he took it upon himself to help me. Coming out of Pier 21 there was a very small house and we all went in to buy some bread to eat and a jar of jam. I was thirsty and asked for a glass of water, but of course, they did not understand me, so they gave me something, but I did not know what it was, but whatever it was, it did not agree with my stomach. I felt sick afterwards, but perhaps it was because I was too hungry and did not know it.

The train that we had to take from Halifax to Toronto was not very good, it was old, and not comfortable at all, it was a train just for immigrants. A man helped me to open the seat so that I could put my daughters to sleep. The ride was very rough, our bodies were all shaken up, and my children could not wait until we got to Toronto so they could see their father who they had not seen for three years. My children were very good during all of this.

After two days and three nights, we arrived in Toronto. I could not see my husband because they would not allow him to come right into the train station. An attendant came to me and offered his help, he was a friend of my husband, and was from our hometown, Vasto, but I did not know him. I was scared to follow him, but he assured me that he was a friend, and he was. His name was Panfilo DeFilippis, and he told me that my husband was waiting for us just outside the train station. So I went with him, and he took us to my husband and my family was reunited. The children were overjoyed about seeing their father, lots of hugs and kisses. We went to my brother-in-law's home for dinner (Michele Di Falco) and there we found the rest of the family. My husband had three brothers here in Canada; I had a sister, Rosa and her husband Nicola who came way before a brother, and Nicola, me and his wife Antonietta.

After dinner my husband took us to our new home, a two bedroom apartment on Eglinton Ave., near Bathurst St., where most of the neighbours were Jewish. My husband had a terrible time finding us a home because he had four children and no one wanted to rent to such a large family. He had to pay $125 a month for this apartment. My husband had a job but his salary was not much, and most of it went to cover the high rent. It was hard for the family to live in an apartment. After 10 months, all his hard-earned savings were used up, so we decided to see if we could buy a house. After much talking and asking for help, my husband's oldest brother loaned us the down payment and the rest, we got a mortgage with the bank. My brother-in-law had his own business, but things were tough at that time, not much work or money, so it was a sacrifice for him too. We purchased our home in February 1955, the house was very old, and needed much repair. This repair could not be done any time soon because there was not enough money, so little by little things started to get better. For the first three years we had no TV, no refrigerator, no washing machine, we did have a small radio, and I made my children's clothes as much as I could. My husband's pay was low, so I decided to work to help out. I worked at home, sewing doll's clothes, but after a while I left this because it was too far to go and pick up and then return the finished clothes. Later, I started sewing ladies blouses at home; these were brought to me and picked up. After a while I left this also, and tried to go to work in a metal products factory, but this did not work out for too long because I got a bad chemical reaction on my hands and was sick for a long time. My family was big and they needed me, so I stayed home and took care of my family. Things improved slowly, and a few years later, for a Christmas present for the whole family, we bought a TV.

In 1957, my husband, myself and all the children became Canadian Citizens.

After seven years of buying our home, we were able to renovate the kitchen. By this time other families from our town had come to Canada. It was good to have the help and support of family and friends as we worked to become a part of this new country.

Since arriving in Canada, I realized how difficult it was for me to communicate in this new country, so I decided to learn the language as much as possible. As my children learned, they in turn taught me, and I was able to learn the English language fairly well and did not need a translator for most things.

The years passed and the family grew, my daughters started to go to work and eventually became engaged to be married. My second daughter Grazia got married in May 1963, my first daughter Angela married in August 1963, Gemma married in May 1967 and Maria Paola was married in April 1970.

My husband passed away July 31, 1975 after being sick for two years with prostate cancer. Since 1973, I have been living with my daughter Maria Paola, and I have my own space and take care of myself. I joined an English-speaking seniors club in September 1976 after my husband passed away, and I am still a member. I have nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. I am now 86 years old and doing pretty well.