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Interview With Irene Paone


November 20, 2011


Columbus Centre



Interview With Irene Paone

Irene Paone was born on October 24, 1914 in Italy. She came to Canada when she was 13 years old. Her husband, Raffaele (Ralph) Paone, was also born in Italy (b. September 22, 1910) and came to Canada when he was 14 years old. The couple met while they were visiting Leonardo Covelli’s house in Niagara Falls (Covelli was also interned).  Ralph lost a leg in an accident working at a paper mill before they were married. After they were married Ralph opened a shoemaker shop. In 1940, Ralph was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and taken to the Niagara Falls jail. From there he was taken to the Exhibition Grounds in Toronto and then on to Petawawa. He was in the camp for six months until he got sick and was sent home. During Ralph’s internment, Irene got a job cleaning a motel. When Ralph got home he sold all the shoemaking machinery, took a year off and then got a cleaning job at the Northern Company in Chippewa. He worked there for three years before opening up McDonald Grocery with Irene and his sister. The Paones sold the grocery store in 1954; Ralph then worked at the post office as a janitor. While Ralph was interned, Irene’s brother, Rocco, fought for Canada in World War II; Rocco died in battle in Normandy in 1945. Irene’s father also fought for Canada but in World War I. Irene speaks a bit about the other members of the Italian community in Niagara Falls who were interned and about the location and activities that went on at the Sons of Italy hall.

In this opening clip Irene Paone introduces herself and speaks about her husband and tells the story of how they met.

Irene Paone recounts the story of how her husband lost his during a work accident.

Irene Paone talks about both her and her husband’s involvement in the Order Sons of Italy.

Irene Paone briefly speaks about the neighbourhood she lived in.

Irene Paone talks about the day her husband Ralph Paone was arrested by the RCMP.

In this clip Irene Paone describes going to see her husband while he was detained at a local jail and then at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds in Toronto. She also recounts the conditions for the men during their detention and travel to Petawawa.

Irene Paone elaborates on going to see her husband at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds in Toronto after his arrest.

Irene Paone briefly describes how her mother-in-law reacted to Ralph’s internment and how the family could not afford to visit him in Petawawa.

Irene Paone discusses corresponding with her husband via letters during his internment.

Irene Paone speaks about her husband’s release from the internment camp. She also mentions other men who were released after his husband.

Irene Paone briefly mentions that her husband could not do much in the camp due to the loss of his leg. She also mentions that he rarely spoke about the internment period when he returned home.

Irene Paone describes how her family survived during her husband’s internment.

Irene Paone briefly talks about the effect the enemy alien designation had on the Italian Canadian community in Niagara Falls.

Irene Paone talks about how although Italian Canadians in Niagara Falls did not face much discrimination, they were hesitant to talk or associate with other community members during the war years.

Irene Paone speaks about her enemy alien designation.

In this clip Irene Paone describes how her husband found it difficult to find work upon his release from the internment camp.

Irene Paone talks about her husband Ralph working as a janitor in the post-war years. She mentions that the RCMP had offices in the building he was working in.

Irene Paone speaks about her brother Rocco who fought in the Canadian military during World War II and died in a battle in Normandy. She also speaks about the suffering her family endured during the war years.

In this clip Irene Paone talks about Luisa Guagneli, one of the four Italian Canadian women who were interned during World War II.

Irene Paone talks about the other Italian Canadian men from the Niagara region who were interned during World War II. She also mentions that all these men were involved with the Order Sons of Italy and describes the various social activities they participated in.

In this final clip Irene Paone shares her feelings on the internment period and issues of redress.