June 23, 2011
Interview With Emanuele Cosentino
Emanuele Cosentino was born in Montreal to a Montreal-born mother, and a Sicilian father. His father Giuseppe arrived in Montreal through Halifax in 1923 to join his older brothers, whom had arrived in Canada in 1908 and 1913. Emanuele’s father was one of four boys in the family, and his youngest brother came to the country in 1949. Giuseppe Cosentino started a family construction business called Giuseppe Cosentino & Family in 1924, where he worked with his brother, Emanuele; both of these men would be arrested as enemy aliens in 1940 and 1941. Emanuele’s uncle worked as a brick layer during the day, however his passion was music and he dedicated much of his free time to a band he started in 1922. As band leader he played for the Queen during her visit to Montréal in 1939. Giuseppe Cosentino was arrested one night in 1940, and was taken away by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) along with his war medals from World War I and his hunting rifles, but was returned home the following day along with his belongings. The following year at their father’s funeral, the police arrived to arrest Emanuele. In this interview Emanuele recounts that his uncle told police in the church, “My father died…he’s right in the front there. If you want to wait after…the funeral, I’m going to give myself up.” Apparently the police had been searching for him for some time, however there had been some confusion around his identity since he worked as a brick layer during the day, and as a band leader at night. He continues to explain in the interview that his uncle did not wear a black shirt as band leader, but that the other musicians in the band did.
In this opening clip Emanuele Cosentino speaks about his father and his migration to Canada.
Emanuele Cosentino mentions that his father served in the Italian military during World War I and then migrated to Canada to join his brothers.
Emanuele Cosentino talks about the area in Montreal where his father’s family settled. He also discusses the construction business his father began with his relatives.
Emanuele Cosentino talks about the ethnic make-up of his neighbourhood in the 1930s.
In this clip Emanuele Cosentino speaks about his uncle Emanuele who was a bricklayer by day and in his free time formed the Cosentino Band. Emanuele taught young children how to play instruments and also had an adult band that played during many church processions.
Emanuele Cosentino further elaborates on his uncle’s interest in music.
In this clip Emanuele Cosentino shares that his uncle and his band played for the Queen during her Royal Visit in 1939.
Emanuele Cosentino explains that fascists were not prevalent in his neighbourhood as his family was one of the few Italian families. He then goes on to explain that his uncle was not a fascist, nor did he ever wear a black shirt.
In this clip Emanuele Cosentino describes the day his father was arrested. He also described that his uncle was arrested at a later date and sent to Petawawa for supposedly being a fascist.
Emanuele Cosentino recalls his family’s reaction to his father’s arrest. He mentions that his father returned home the next day and never spoke about the incident again.
Emanuele Cosentino talks about attending parties at the Casa d’Italia in Montreal.
Emanuele Cosentino talks about his uncle Emanuele’s arrest in 1941 at a funeral.
Emanuele Cosentino talks about how his family and the Italian Canadian community in general refused to talk about the internment period during the 1940s and even afterwards. He also speaks a bit about compensation and the Japanese internment.
Emanuele Cosentino mentions that his uncle never spoke about his internment. The only information that he knows is that his uncle continued working on his music in the camp and assisted with repairs.
Emanuele Cosentino elaborates on his uncle’s band and mentions that his uncle did wear a black shirt when he was performing in Italy.
Emanuele Cosentino briefly speaks about the importance of music to Italians.
Emanuele Cosentino talks about his uncle Emanuele’s migration to Canada.
Emanuele Cosentino speaks about how the Italian Canadian community in Montreal reacted to the arrests.
Emanuele Cosentino talks about how it took the RCMP nearly a year to track down his uncle and that if it wasn’t for the funeral he may never have been arrested.
Emanuele Cosentino discusses how his uncle was stopped a few times by the authorities but was never arrested since his papers stated he was a brick layer and the authorities were looking for a musician.
Emanuele Cosentino briefly talks about Mussolini.
Emanuele Cosentino talks about his uncle’s internment at Bordeaux Jail and his life after his release.
In this clip Emanuele Cosentino explains that he learned about the internment period by reading newspapers and listening to the radio.
In this clip Emanuele Cosentino reflects on the internment period and whether the Canadian government was justified in their actions.
In closing Emanuele Cosentino reflects on his family’s contributions to the Italian Canadian community in Montreal and speaks about his uncle’s involvement with music after the war.