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Interview With Sandra Raffaella Stirling O’Grady


August 10, 2011


Columbus Centre



Interview With Sandra Raffaella Stirling O’Grady

Sandra Raffaella Stirling O’Grady was born in Timmins on March 2, 1938. She is the granddaughter of internee, Leopoldo (Leo) Mascioli, and the daughter of Major Keith Sterling, both of whom were interned during the war. Leo was interned at Camp Petawawa as an enemy alien while Keith was in a German camp as a prisoner of war while fighting with the Canadian Armed Forces. Her grandfather, Leo, left Italy at the age of nine to begin work as a shoe-shine boy in Boston, before working in Nova Scotia with Guglielmo Marconi, and then in the Silver Mines of Cobalt, Ontario. He finally settled in Timmins – then known as Porcupine Camp. Leo Mascioli established himself as one of the most prominent and influential individuals in Timmins through the Mascioli Construction Company. Sandra describes her grandfather as a very generous man who acquired much, but also gave a lot back to both his family and the community of Timmins. He was at a meeting in downtown Toronto when the RCMP arrested him and accused him of supporting Mussolini. Leo’s brother, Antonio (Tony) Mascioli, was also arrested and interned. Sandra explains that after a year in Petawawa, the reception her grandfather received from some individuals upon returning home was devastating; some former friends would cross the street to avoid speaking with him. She believes that he was forced to leave his beloved Timmins due to the ramifications of his internment. Sandra spends the final part of her interview discussing her father’s role as a major in the Canadian Army. 

In this opening clip Sandra O’Grady introduces herself and speaks about her family and their migration from Italy and Scotland.

Sandra O’Grady shares memories from her childhood growing up in Timmins, ON.

Sandra O’Grady speaks about the neighbourhood she grew up in Timmins, ON.

In this clip Sandra O’Grady speaks about the ethnic make-up of the Timmins neighbourhood she grew up in.

Sandra O’Grady speaks about the schooling she received growing up in Timmins, ON.

Sandra O’Grady speaks about studying science at the University of Toronto in the 1950s and becoming a high school science teacher.

In this clip Sandra O’Grady talks further about the neighbourhood she grew up in, specifically talking about the various shops and businesses in the area.

Sandra O’Grady speaks about the various Catholic churches in Timmins, ON.

In this clip Sandra O’Grady shares some of the memories she has of her grandfather Leopoldo (Leo) Mascioli.

Sandra O’Grady recounts the her grandfather Leo’s migration to Canada and his early work in the mines of Northern Ontario.

Sandra O’Grady continues recounting stories about her grandfather’s early years in Timmins, ON and the formation of the Mascioli Construction company.

Sandra O’Grady discusses how her grandfather Leo Mascioli came to be interned along with his brother Tony. She speaks of Leo’s detention at the Exhibition Grounds in Toronto and his one year internment in Petawawa were he took on the role of camp cook.

In this clip Sandra O’Grady speaks about difficulties Leo faced upon his release from the internment camp and return to Timmins. She also speaks about certain incidents that the family faced at home during the internment.

Sandra O’Grady mentions that while her parents didn’t share much information about her grandfather’s internment experience during the war years, they did share stories once her and her sisters were older.

Sandra O’Grady discusses her father’s role as major in the Algonquin Regiment of the Canadian Army during World War II. She recounts stories she heard from the war front, as well as his internment in a German prisoner of war camp.

In this clip Sandra O’Grady speaks about finding out her father had been taken as a prisoner of war while fighting for the Allies in Germany.

Sandra O’Grady recounts how her father spent his time in the German prisoner of war camp.

Sandra O’Grady says that her father shared stories about his war experiences upon his return home.

Sandra O’Grady mentions that her family was never bitter about their war experiences as far as she knows. She also recalls that while her father shared his war experiences with the family, she does not recall her grandfather sharing stories with the grandchildren.

Sandra O’Grady discusses the reasons why she believes her grandfather Leo Mascioli was interned during World War II.

In this final clip Sandra O’Grady talks about a carved spoon that she has that came from the internment camp.