July 17, 2011
Interview With Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette & Jean Ouellette
Video interview in French with Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette and her son Jean Ouellette.
Jeanne speaks about her life growing up in Lachine, now a suburb of Montreal. Both her parents were born in Canada. Her mother was French Canadian and her father, Carlo Iannuzzi, was Italian Canadian. She very much associates with her Italian ancestry and identifies with her paternal grandmother Rosa Iannuzzi, who had a very hard life. Twice widowed, Rosa was a strong and determined woman; she managed to overcome her early poverty and other struggles and raise 10 children.
Jeanne’s uncles Frank Iannuzzi and Daniel Andrew Iannuzzi were both interned. Her uncle Frank was living at home with his wife and his mother. He was seized from the bathroom where he was washing up after work. Jeanne recalls her grandmother’s frantic and desperate reaction.
Jeanne’s father Carlo Iannuzzi was a detective with the Lachine police force. As a result of the war declaration, he was made to surrender his weapon and was transferred to the Fire Department. During the war period, Carlo Iannuzzi tried to help the families of the internees, including those of his brothers.
Jeanne herself found employment at Bell Canada during the war. She notes some initial concern with her Italian heritage, and the suggestion she might relay information to the Italian cause, which she acknowledges seems ridiculous today. She was working the switchboard when the end of the war was announced. The entire switchboard lit up.
Her son Jean Ouellette shares his memories of his grandfather Carlo and greatuncles Daniel Andrew and Frank.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette speaks about her grandmother Rosa’s life. As a young and poor widow, she married one of her boarders Giovanni Iannuzzi. She speaks briefly about her grandparents life together and their large family.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette speaks about her predominately Italian neighbourhood in Lachine while growing up, noting some of her neighbours and the planting of vegetable gardens.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette speaks about how her grandmother cared for so many babies including their unusual sleeping spot.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette speaks briefly about her father’s work as a detective with the Lachine Police Force. With the declaration of war, he transferred to the Fire Department.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette speaks about when she first went to work for Bell Canada and the suspicions resulting from her Italian surname.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette notes the mixed ethnic make-up of Lachine, before the war.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette speaks about her childhood.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette talks about her memories of celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Day as a child.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette speaks about the Catholic church and her family’s attendance at mass. She also notes the celebration of feast days and the related processions, and her father’s role in establishing a local nursery, run by Italian nuns.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette describes the day her uncle Frank was arrested at his home, and his internment at Camp Petawawa.She notes how many families in Lachine were left without fathers and breadwinners.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette describes life during her uncles’ internments — including listening to news from the war front and air raid drills.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette speaks about her uncle Daniel Andrew Iannuzzi. She notes his community work and engagement, including his work with the Order Sons of Italy and his honoured position during the visit of the King and Queen in 1939.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette discusses her father’s transfer from the police force to the fire department.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette speaks about life after the war.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette speaks about her uncle Frank’s life after his release, including his wife’s illness and career as a seamstress/designer.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette speaks about the presence of the Catholic faith in Lachine, including the establishment of the first Italian parish.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette describes her father’s charitable and community work.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette speaks about her father’s transfer to the fire department. He was thankful to not be interned and to still be employed.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette speaks about the booming war industry located in Lachine.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette discusses her work at Bell Canada during the war.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette notes her acceptance of past events and her feeling that one should instead focus on the future.
Jeanne Iannuzzi Ouellette speaks briefly about the women’s role and struggle during the war.
Jean Ouellette speaks about his grandfather’s and great-uncle’s work ethic and endless house projects.
Jean Iannuzzi shares a few memories of his grandfather.
Jean Ouellette shares his thoughts about the internment of Italian Canadians including his great-uncles.
Jeanne and Jean Ouellette speak briefly about the internment experience in Petawawa. They note it is not comparable to the atrocities committed by the Nazis.
Jean Ouellette remembers an episode that speaks to his grandfather’s formidable personality.