Coming to Canada

Immigration Record
Immigration Record

Ah, the good old days 🙂

My wife found the record of my grandmother arriving in the United States, on her way to Canada in January 1930. Great timing, just after the start of the Great Depression.

Here’s some things that my family told me.

My grandfather, Luigi, was born in Italy. My grandmother, Anna, was born in Argentina, of Italian parents. Her father was working as a ranch manager. According to stories, the house they were in had un-glazed windows. The ranch was close the the equator, so it was warm all of the time. Often her father was out on horseback. If they needed him at the house, they rang a bell, from a bell tower mounted on the house.

About 1918, the family moved back to Italy, where my grandmother and grandfather met, and married. My father was the first born. If you enlarge the image, you’ll see Anna Turrin Borean, my grandmother, Francesco, my father, Esterina, Tranquillo, and Elena, his brothers and sisters. Two more brothers, and two more sisters would be born in Canada.

After my grandmother and grandfather married, her parents bought them a house. My Aunt Esterina told me it was a beautiful place. I wish I knew what the address was, I’d like to know if it is still there.

My grandfather was working in the local stone quarry. Sometime in early 1929, the quarry closed. The work situation in Italy was really bad, so he decided to try Canada.

He came here first, in the summer of 1929, to get a job, and arrange for a place to live. They communicated by letter, and in January 1930 my grandmother came over with the kids.

But there’d been a miscommunication. My grandmother arrived in Union Station, Toronto with four kids in tow, and my grandfather wasn’t there. This was a problem, as she didn’t speak English. Dad said she was furious at my grandfather.

She found someone who knew a bit of Italian, and with the address from his letters, tracked my grandfather down. My grandparents marriage was an interesting one. I’m not sure she ever got over not being met at Union Station.

That’s how dad’s family came to Canada. Out of those who came over, the only one still alive is my Aunt Elena, who was three. She has no memories of Italy. What I know, I got from Dad, and Aunt Esterina.

Oh, and while my grandmother did learn English, she usually spoke to her children in Italian. The second generation (me and my cousins) she spoke English too. Her accent was pretty heavy, and my wife never could understand my grandmother when we visited.

But she was a grand old lady. She ran the house with an iron hand, and loved her children and grandchildren totally.


Wayne Borean

Monday July 28, 2014


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