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Italian Immigrant

Time 0:03:25


There was no money in Italy. On my qualification there was good money in Canada. So I applied through the Canadian immigration. But I didn’t speak a word of English. I landed in Montreal they told me I was supposed to work in an airfield – I never saw the airfield, because they were on strike. So they sent me to Fort William. When I got there, they told me there was a job in Toronto for me. I went in the office, and they asked me if I speak German or English. I said no, only Italian. So there was no job for me there either. I tried to scramble with the Italian contractor, a week here, a week there. Immigration told me they had a job for me in Prescott, Ontario. They gave me the railroad tickets and a couple of bucks for a meal, and that’s all I had. They thought I was a bricklayer, because I was Italian. All the other guys, their lines were perfectly straight. But my lines, very crooked, double S all the way down.

I met Luigi in Prescott. A fellow Italian. He said to me that he lives in Brockville. I was very depressed that I was only Italian in Prescott. The only Italian words that I hear were my own voice when I was singing. So I walked to Brockville – 22 miles.

My trade was as a mechanic, and I heard from a friend, they were in the Soo, making $2.75 an hour. That got me to come to Sault Sainte Marie. I looked for this place on the west side. I ended up in the company yard, and I seen a man, big Churchill cigar in his mouth, and I asked him if I could talk to anybody about a job. He told me inside the office, there was a guy who spoke Italian, Russian, German, all kinds of languages. When I walked in the office, I said, excuse me, my name is Angelo Rosset, and I would like to know if you have a job for me. Right away, he stood up and said Mr. Rosset, you got a job in this company. He spoke my dialect. He said he pays his top wages $2.25 an hour. I replied, I already have a job for $2.25, and I travelled 600 miles to get here. He said, I’ll give you $2.50. I never left Sault Sainte Marie after that.

Once I learned English, I was not in chains anymore. I made money in Canada. I sweat for it. Today I am retired from Algoma Steel. I have two sons. They are honest and hardworking people. I have four grandchildren. I think Sault Sainte Marie is the greatest city in the world. Here are friends. Clean, safe. I didn’t get anymore education, but I worked hard. That’s how I got through.

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