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Interview With Michael Monaco


June 23, 2011


Columbus Centre



Interview With Michael Monaco

Michael Monaco is a proud Canadian who resides in Laval, Quebec. Michael’s parents were both born in Ururi, Italy. His eldest sister Mary was also born in Italy, but he and his other three sisters were born in Montreal where the family settled. Michael is the son of internee Vincenzo Monaco and the nephew of internees Antonio and Donato Monaco; all of whom were involved in the family business for decades – the Corona Bakery. During his school years Michael would help his father with bread deliveries on the weekends, but after a year of university he decided to work alongside his father permanently since he thought it was “the right thing to do.” His father Vincenzo was a very religious man, and attended the Italian United Church of the Redeemer in Montreal. Michael says that his father and uncles were very busy with their work at the Corona Bakery and that his father spent most of his spare time there between church and his garden. At the church a vote was held to help determine who should continue as the next minister, and as a result a conflict began between Rev. Augusto Bersani and Rev. Domenico Scalera. Michael recounts that his father voted for Scalera, the minister with fascist views, and that Bersani, an outspoken anti-fascist turned in a list of Scalera’s supporters to the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). As a result, Vincenzo was arrested while out on his horse and buggy delivering bread. His uncle, Donato, was arrested later that day at the bakery while Michael and his mother watched. Vincenzo’s six months internment was more difficult on the family left behind and the family business, which was almost lost, but Michael’s father viewed his time at Petawawa as a “vacation” since he was never able to take time away from work before this. Michael explains that his mother buried his father’s Italian World War I uniform and war rifle the day after his arrest. Christmas that year was difficult for the family, but Michael says their real gift was having their father return home on December 27th. Michael Monaco’s father, mother, and eldest sister were all Canadian citizens, but were required to report to the RCMP as enemy aliens, even after their father’s return home.

In this opening clip Michael Monaco introduces himself and speaks about his parents and their life in Italy and migration to Canada.

Michael Monaco speaks about the Montreal neighbourhood he grew up in. He also speaks about the jobs his father held before opening his own bakery.

Michael Monaco speaks about the wooden wagon, modeled after the Corona Bakery wagon, that he received as a birthday gift.

In this clip Michael Monaco speaks about his schooling and the Protestant Church his family belonged to. He also speaks about how the Protestant Church assisted families during the internment period.

Michael Monaco speaks about assisting his father with the delivery of bread around Montreal in their horse and buggy.

Michael Monaco speaks about the family bakery.

In this brief clip Michael Monaco mentions that his uncle Donato lived in the apartment above the family bakery.

Michael Monaco mentions that his father and Uncle Donato were too busy with the family business to participate in any fascist organizations. However, he does say that his Uncle Antonio was a member of a fascist organization.

Michael Monaco recalls the local Italian feasts and processions in Montreal.

In this clip Michael Monaco speaks about Rev. Augusto Bersani.

Michael Monaco speaks about Patsy Colangelo, a local Italian Canadian architect who designed the Casa d’Italia and his church in Montreal. Colangelo was also interned during WWII.

Michael Monaco speaks about the events of June 10, 1940.

Michael Monaco speaks about being made fun of by children at school due to his father’s internment. He goes on to speak about life at home and his father’s return.

Michael Monaco shares his family’s reaction to the arrest of his father and uncles.

Michael Monaco briefly shares his father’s opinion on his internment.

Michael Monaco tells the story of his mother burying his father’s WWI uniform and rifle in the backyard after his arrest.

Micheal Monaco speaks about his family running Corona Bakery during the internment of Michael’s father and uncles. He also mentions that the bakery would assist community members by giving away bread on credit.

Michael Monaco speaks about corresponding with his father through letters during his internment. He also shares his father’s stories regarding Camillien Houde, the Mayor of Montreal who was also interned during WWII.

Michael Monaco speaks about his father’s return home.

Michael Monaco speaks at length about the Rev. Augusto Bersani and Rev. Domenico Scalera of the Church of the Redeemer in Montreal. He speaks about how events that occurred at the church lead to the eventual arrest of many of the congregation. He also mentions how Bersani visited his home three times after his father’s release from the camp.

Michael Monaco briefly mentions that although his father did not get a trial, the minister of the Church of All Nations worked very hard during the internment period to secure the release of many men.

Michael Monaco speaks about the day his father returned home from the internment camp.

Michael Monaco speaks about the enemy alien designation and mentions that both his mother and sister were required to report to the local RCMP.