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Interview With Chester Capponi


May 18, 2011


Columbus Centre



Interview With Chester Capponi

Chester Capponi is the son of internee, Girolamo (George) Capponi, who was interned in Petawawa by the Canadian government for over two years during World War II. At the time of his father’s arrest Chester was a teenager. He describes the day his father was arrested and imprisoned at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) grounds. After his father was transported to Petawawa some weeks later, the family’s main form of communication was through letters, which were screened and censored. He outlines his father’s attempt to persuade them, through his letters and during their visits, that he was fine. He notes how throughout this traumatic experience, the Canadian government never provided the family with information about the reasons for his father’s internment, or if and when he would be released. He recalls his father’s ill health after being released, and his subsequent death six years later. Despite their struggles, the family was able to attain income and survive through a rental property that they had. After graduating with a degree in pharmacy soon after his father’s passing, he describes his journey towards attaining his own pharmacy with the help of his mother, and his eventual success.

In this opening clip Chester Capponi introduces himself and speaks about the Hamilton neighbourhood he grew up in.

Chester Capponi speaks about the day his father George Capponi was arrested. He explains that his father was first taken to the Canadian National Exhibition grounds in Toronto before being shipped to Petawawa.

In this clip Chester Capponi recalls how his family found out where his father had been interned. He also discusses the letters he would received from his father.

Chester Capponi talks about his father’s migration to Canada and early work at Stelco. He also mentions that his father was not a fascist and had become a citizen (a naturalized British subject) prior to World War II.

In this clip Chester Capponi describes visiting his father at Camp Petawawa.

Chester Capponi mentions that his father was never given a reason for his internment.

Chester Capponi speaks about his father’s release and return home. He describes how his father was not well upon his return from the camp and that he passed away six years after his release.

In this clip Chester Capponi talks about how his mother coped during his father’s internment. He also speaks about the discrimination Italians faced in Hamilton prior to and during the war years.

Chester Capponi briefly speaks about his father’s employment at Stelco. He also speaks about the rental property the family had as a source of income after the war.

Chester Capponi speaks about his career as a pharmacist. He describes the various pharmacies he worked at and owned over the years and how his father helped to service the Italian Canadian community with the help of his mother and uncle.

In this clip Chester Capponi speaks about his mother’s strength and fortitude during the internment period and after her husband’s death.

In this clip Chester Capponi speaks about some of the stories his father shared about the internment camp and the men who were interned. Chester also speaks about his uncle Sam Mostacci who was serving in the Canadian military when he was arrested and interned.

Chester Capponi briefly speaks about how his father worked in the kitchen at Camp Petawawa and that he also carved wooden objects that he brought home from the camp.

Chester Capponi speaks about his father and explains how his father never expressed any bitterness regarding his internment. Chester also shares his feelings regarding his father’s internment.

In this final clip Chester Capponi speaks about recalling the internment period with friends in the years following the war.