Mary Alati

May 9, 1955

My mother, myself, my sister and baby brother came to Halifax on May 9, 1955 as landed immigrants on the Olympia sponsored by Dad. I recall watching the streetcars for long periods of time from our bedroom window on College Street which has become many years ago "Little Italy". I was difficult for my parents to raise 5 children. We all did well. It was a proud moment for my dad to become a Canadian citizen in 1955 and Mom in 1957. In my twenties I also taught citizenship classes.

My dad learned English very quickly and we thrived and excelled at school and made our parents proud. We never had vacations, TV and toys but we had plenty of love and laughter, never board. Our vacation was to go to Centre Island, at the foot of Bay Street, High Park and the Zoo. Mom gave the best birthday parties (all my Canadian friends loved Italian cooking; it was not unusual to have 20 classmates at my party).

Unfortunately, my Dad had a stroke when he was 54 years old and life was tough once again. He passed away in 1987 at the age of 69 of pneumonia. He was sent home from the hospital emergency that evening (shortage of beds) only to be readmitted the following day and died a few days later. This was 1987 and there was no bed.

He taught us to be honest, hardworking and proud of this great country and to remember our heritage. I did go back to Italy in 1969 for my honeymoon and to meet my grandfather, aunts, and uncles and my mother and father-in-law. I visited again in 1981 with our nine year old son to show him where his grandparents came from. We are all fluent in French and Italian as well.


I recall the long train ride to Toronto and the huge Union Station. I cried when I left our lovely town in Italy. I did not want to leave my classmates (I was in Grade One). The only reason I was coming was to see my Dad whom I missed very much. I wrote to my Dad every week. I also had a wonderful uncle, an artist and photographer. He was like my “second Dad.” He came to the U.S. many years later. I was happier that my Dad chose Canada instead of the U.S. He had brothers and sister in US since 1929 and they had also sponsored him after the war. My dad was fighting against his own brothers during WWII War is a terrible things and this is one more reason to love this country. My dad had to leave his country because of the devastation and poverty that the war caused. Life and the weather were difficult for him. He ended up in this strange country with only a suitcase and memories of his children. His first son was born after he came to Canada. He begged for jobs on contraction (his trade was as a cabinet maker).

I continued studying Italian and French throughout my school years. I have been teaching International Languages, ESL and Citizenship classes with the Catholic School Board on a part-time basis for 20 years.

When I joined the Provincial Government Correctional Services in 1977 I had to get my CPIC done and Dad gave me the details of where we landed the name of our ship, etc. Thank you for allowing me to share this with you.