Faces of the Italian Community

Winnipeg Free Press, August 25, 2012 | Go to article overview

Faces of the Italian Community


Frank Mariaggi

Born in Corsica in 1847, he came to Manitoba with the Red River Expedition. He stayed and worked as a chef in Winnipeg before converting a building on McDermot Avenue into the Mariaggi Hotel in 1903. The hotel featured private dining rooms in a basement grotto that resembled a cave in Corsica. He returned to Corsica in 1908 and served as mayor of his city and later Consul-General for Italy in Corsica. He died in 1918.

Jack Cancilla

He was born in Italy in 1887 and came to Winnipeg when he was nine with his parents. He started as a water boy with CN Rail and later opened the Venice Cafe on Portage Avenue with his brother. He later opened Jack's Golden Gate Cafe. He was also a boxing promoter and brought world championship boxing to the city including fighters such as Jack Dempsey. He managed Frank Battaglia, a former Manitoba middleweight champion. Cancilla died in 1942.

Leonardo Emma, Giuseppe "Joseph" Panaro, Agostino "Bill" Badali and Giuseppe "Joe" Badali

They were Sicilian immigrants who ran the Olympia Cafe on Portage Avenue at Smith Street. They bought the property behind the cafe on Smith Street in 1910, and three years later built the first three storeys of a planned nine-storey building they were going to call the Olympia Hotel. The hotel project stopped because of poor economic conditions before the First World War, and during the war what had been completed was used to house soldiers. Six more floors were added to the building in 1921 and the hotel's name was later changed to the Marlborough Hotel.

Frank Battaglia

He was born in Winnipeg in 1910. After being advised by boxer Jack Dempsey, he turned professional and even though he never won a world championship, he was considered one of the best middleweight boxers in the world. He lost championship fights in 1933 and 1936. He retired and moved to California, but later managed a restaurant in Winnipeg. Later still, he returned to California where he died in 1971.

Tony Tascona

He was one of the first artists in Canada to paint on aluminum. His work includes murals inside the Centennial Concert Hall and the stabiles inside the lobby of the Manitoba Law Courts, the St. Boniface Research Hospital and the Freshwater Institute. There is a permanent retrospective of his work at the University of Manitoba's faculty of law. His art is in the permanent collections of several museums, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Confederation Centre, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Glenbow Museum. He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1996. A junior baseball player, he was inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002.

Art Mauro

He was born in Thunder Bay and was a lawyer in Winnipeg before moving into the corporate world. He was president, chief executive officer and chief operating officer of Investors Group Inc. through the 1980s, before restarting his law career. He initiated the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice at St. Paul's College at the University of Manitoba. He has been chairman of the federal Transportation Industry Advisory Committee, St. Boniface General Hospital and the Winnipeg Art Gallery Foundation. He has also been director of Canadian Airlines International, Atomic Energy of Canada, Canadian Pacific Hotels and the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews. He has been honoured with the Order of Canada, the Order of Manitoba and the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt. He is also an honorary colonel to the Canadian Forces' School of Aerospace Studies and received the Manitoba Aviation Council's 2011 Pioneer of Flight Award.

Samuel Loschiavo

He is an entomologist whose inventions have helped Canada produce and export high-quality grain. He graduated from the University of Manitoba, and while doing research at the Agriculture and Agri-foods Canada Research Station at the university, he found ways of protecting stored cereal products. …

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