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Interview With Andy Donato


June 01, 2011


Columbus Centre



Interview With Andy Donato

Andy Donato was born in 1937 in Toronto, Ontario. His mother, Adelina Benedetti, was also born in Canada, while his father, Luciano Donato, was born in Italy in 1897 and came to Canada, via New York, in 1922. Luciano initially lived with his brother in Toronto (formerly Mimico). He first worked in construction and then as a presser at Eaton’s before opening a grocery store in Scarborough in the Birchmount and Danforth area. The store was later moved to Woodrow and Danforth, where Luciano contracted a new building to be built; this store was in operation until 1957 when it was sold. Luciano then worked at Ontario Hydro before retiring at age 70. Luciano was never interned during World War II, but Andy remembers other relatives and paesani being taken away, such as the Orlandos. He also remembers some name calling and says his father was constantly fearful of being taken away. Andy also talks about growing up in Toronto, going to school, and becoming a professional artist. He has illustrated for Eaton’s, The Telegram, and The Toronto Sun.

In the opening of his interview, Andy Donato introduces himself and speaks of his parents. He also discusses his father’s migration to Canada.

Andy Donato discusses the first jobs his father, Luciano Donato, took upon his arrival in Canada. He also speaks about the history of the family grocery store his father eventually opened.

Andy Donato briefly discusses the schools he attended in Toronto as a child.

Andy Donato describes the ethnic makeup of the neighbourhood he grew up in. While his parents and family members spoke fluent Italian, Andy himself found that he was surrounded with mainly English speakers and therefore learned little Italian.

In this clip Andy Donato mentions the Italian friends and family members in Toronto who were interned in 1940. He discusses how these men were members of an Italian organization in the city which was very political and this is what lead to their internment. While his own father was not interested in politics he did visit the organization once and during the war years lived in fear that he would be interned because of this visit.

Andy Donato describes how his uncle faced discrimination during the war years as an Italian Canadian. He was asked by some shop owners to deliver groceries at night so that people wouldn’t see that the fruit came from an Italian. Andy then compares that sense of fear to politics of today.

In this clip Andy Donato shares a few memories of growing up during the war years. He also mentions some of the discrimination he himself faced for being of Italian heritage.

Andy Donato briefly describes his memory of the day the war was declared over.

Andy Donato speaks of the Orlando family and their experiences during the war and their feelings about the internment period today.

Andy Donato speaks of his relative who was interned during World War II and how the family coped during his internment.

Andy Donato shares his own viewpoint and that of his relative regarding redress and apology efforts of members of the Italian Canadian community.

In this clip Andy Donato describes the fears he had during the war years and how he thinks his family would have coped if his father would have been interned. However, he says that despite his experiences he does not hold any grudges and has moved on.

Andy Donato discusses his education, family life and career as an artist.