August 30, 2012
Interview With Antoinette (Toni) McDermott
Antoinette (Toni) Olivieri was born in Hamilton, ON. Her grandfather, Antonio Olivieri, owned a grocery store on Sherman Ave. in Hamilton. She describes both the commercial and social activities that took place there. Antonio and his wife migrated from Italy in the 1920s to Canada and pursued many entrepreneurial activities – family business affairs – upon arrival. She describes the family’s involvement with St. Anthony’s Church and the role the Church played in the Italian community in Hamilton. In the interview, Toni reads from her mother’s diary, citing passages that describe the sense of fear growing throughout the Italian community as the war progressed. She suggests her grandfather was interned on the grounds of his involvement with the Sons of Italy in Hamilton, but repeatedly emphasizes his pride of being Canadian and holding no grudges despite his nearly two-month long internment. The journal entries describe how her grandfather changed as a result of the interment, acknowledging how reticent he was about talking about the event at home and to family members. As time passes, she describes how her grandfather quickly returned to his former self, a warm, open and joyful man – who love music and family – that helped numerous Italian immigrants out and remained active in the Italian-Canadian community. She does comment on discrimination her family felt later on during the post-war period when their family moved to a new neighborhood in Hamilton. The interview concludes with a short description of the handcarved wooden objects her grandfather made in camp, a wooden spoon and letter opener, as well as descriptions of select family photographs. Antoinette also describes the impact and importance this project has had on her personally.
Toni McDermott introduces herself and speaks about her grandparents and their migration to Canada.
Toni McDermott speaks about the Hamilton neighbourhood her grandparents settled into upon their arrival to Canada. She also speaks about his grocery business and the hotel opened by his brother Donato Olivieri.
In this clip Toni McDermott speaks about the social gatherings within the Italian community in the years prior to the war. She also speaks about the ethnic make up of the neighbourhood.
Toni McDermott speaks about St. Anthony’s Church in Hamilton.
Toni McDermott speaks about her grandmother role in the home and also speaks about her mother and her life growing up prior to the war.
In this clip Toni McDermott speaks about the subtle changes in the relationships between Italians and non-Italians that were noticeable leading up to outbreak of war.
Toni McDermott describes the day her grandfather was arrested.
Toni McDermott discusses her grandmother’s reaction to her grandfather’s arrest.
In this clip Toni McDermott shares what she knows about her grandfather’s experiences in the internment camp.
Toni McDermott describes how her grandmother survived during her grandfather’s internment. She mentions that her mother assisted in running the family store and that a number of individuals stopped frequenting the family store due to her grandfather’s internment.
Toni McDermott briefly speaks about the internment of her great-uncle Donato Olivieri.
Toni McDermott speaks about her grandfather’s desperation to be released from the internment camp. She then goes on to speak about her grandfather’s release and return home.
Toni McDermott speaks about her grandfather’s return home from camp and how her grandfather was reluctant to ever speak about his experience.
In this clip Toni McDermott shares her own story of discrimination that her family faced after the war.
Toni McDermott discusses the possible reasons for her grandfather’s internment and how he was required to report to the local RCMP upon his release from camp. She also speaks about his continued involvement in the Italian community in Hamilton after the war.
Toni McDermott shares memories of grandfather from the post-war years.
In this clip Toni McDermott shares how her grandfather felt about his internment. She also shares her own feelings on the period.
Toni McDermott discusses what happened to her grandfather’s store after his death in 1956.
Toni McDermott speaks about the Italian community in Hamilton and describes the differences between the pre-war and post-war immigrants.
In this clip Toni McDermott speaks about the wooden objects her grandfather made in the camp while he was interned and explains the significance of these objects.
Toni McDermott speaks about her mother’s diary and reads pertinent entries related to the arrest of her grandfather and his release from camp.
Toni McDermott shares her family photographs which include photographs of her grandfather in the years after the war. She also speaks about Berlino Colangelo, a close family friend who was interned with her grandfather during WWII.