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Interviews With Joan McKinnon


April 14, 2011


Columbus Centre



Interview 1 With Joan McKinnon

Joan McKinnon was born on December 17, 1934 in Timmins, Ontario and is the daughter of Loretta and Keith Sterling. Loretta’s parents, Rafaela and Leopoldo (Leo) Mascioli, came from Cocullo, Italy to Canada in 1912. Joan’s grandfather, Leo was a prominent figure in the construction of Timmins through his company, Mascioli Construction. Prior to coming to Timmins, Leo worked in the coalmines of Nova Scotia, the silver mines in Cobalt, and the mining camps of what became Timmins. Leo was a pioneer in the area, however was arrested and interned as an enemy alien on June 10, 1940. Leo’s brother, Antonio (Tony) Mascioli, was also interned. Joan recounts growing up in Timmins, as well as her family life, and the events revolving around the arrest and release of her grandfather. Joan also speaks of her mother’s wartime experiences, having both her father and husband interned during the same period. Joan’s father, Keith Sterling, was serving with Canadian Army overseas and was interned in a German prisoner of war camp.

Joan McKinnon introduces herself at the beginning of her interview. She also shares the names of her parents and siblings.

In this clip Joan McKinnon provides information about what her life was like growing up in Timmins. She briefly mentions her grandfather, Leo Mascioli, migrating to the area and then goes into detail about the ethnic make-up of the community, her family home, schools in the area and the various activities they participated in.

Joan McKinnon discusses when her mother, Loretta Mascioli, migrated to Timmins, Ontario. She speaks of the early life of the Mascioli family in the area and Leo Mascioli’s invovlement in the mining community. Joan also mentions that her grandfather sponsored a number of family members in their migration to Canada.

Joan McKinnon grew up in a neighbourhood called the Moneta. In this clip she describes their home and the local church that were in this Timmins neighbourhood.

In this clip Joan McKinnon talks about the various social activities and clubs she participated in as a child growing up in Timmins.

Joan McKinnon briefly mentions the churches in her neighbourhood growing up.

Leo Mascioli and his brother Tony Mascioli were both interned during World War II. In this clip Joan McKinnon discusses what little knowledge she has of their involvement in political organizations in Timmins.

Joan McKinnon discusses how life changed in her community, as well as across Canada, for Italian Canadians after Mussolini declared war on the Allies. Italian Canadians had altercations with the RCMP, as well as with their neighbours and co-workers, who now saw them as the enemy. As a result the Italian Canadian community did everything in their power to prove their loyalty to Canada, from buying war bonds to holding meetings.

Joan McKinnon describes the days immediately after her grandfather was arrested and also provides some information about his time in the Petawawa Internment Camp. She mentions that the family hired a lawyer to handle his case and that Leo Mascioli was eventually exonerated thanks to the help of a number of prominent friends. However, she also speaks of how Leo never felt comfortable living in Timmins after he was released.

Joan McKinnon recalls how she learned of her grandfather’s internment. She also discusses how her mother encouraged her to maintain a low profile during the war period.

In this clip Joan McKinnon mentions how she found out about the arrests of her uncle and grandfather. She mentions that the family did not talk about the internment experience even after the war was over and that there was a general uncomfortableness surrounding the event.

Joan McKinnon mentions that while her mother did receive some correspondence from Leo while he was interned, her mother never shared the contents of the letters with Joan or her sisters. However she does mention that she did glean bits and pieces and that she was aware that her mother’s brother Daniel was working to keep Leo’s businesses afloat.

In this clip Joan McKinnon mentions that the details of her grandfather’s internment were well known in the community and much was published about his internment, both positive and negative. She also mentions that regardless of the opinion of her grandfather she never felt she was treated any different from neighbours or from teachers at school and that her uncle Daniel provided much support to her family.

Joan McKinnon discusses how her uncle Daniel attempted to sign up for the Canadian Army after his father Leo Mascioli had been interned. Daniel was rejected due to a medical issue, however, Joan feels that this showed how the Italian Canadian community attempted to show that they were good Canadians.

Joan McKinnon mentions that she does not recall the day her grandfather returned but that he suddenly reappeared and there was no talk of his absence.

Joan McKinnon discusses her grandfather’s life after his release from the Petawawa Internment Camp. Leo Mascioli did not feel comfortable living in Timmins after his release and as a result spent his later life moving around Ontario with his business.

Joan McKinnon shares her views on the issues surrounding the internment of Italian Canadians and the government’s use of the War Measures Act in the 20th century.


May 10, 2011


Columbus Centre



Interview 2 With Joan McKinnon

In her second interview, Joan McKinnon, talks about her father’s experience as a Canadian solder fighting overseas and his capture as a prisoner of par (POW) in Germany. This happened at the same time that her mother’s father and uncle, Leopoldo (Leo) and Antonio (Tony) Mascioli of Timmins, were interned in Camp Petawawa. She also speaks of the strange incidents that happened to her family during the internment period, such as the poisoning of their family dog on Christmas day and the attack on her uncle in their backyard.

In this opening clip Joan McKinnon shares how her mother coped while her husband was held as a prisoner of war in Germany and her father held as an enemy alien in Petawawa during World War II.

Joan McKinnon shares a few of the stories that her father told her about his experiences fighting in Europe for the Allies during World War II.

In this clip Joan McKinnon recalls that while her grandfather Leo Mascioli was interned a number of prominent community members in Timmins and Toronto provided character references to assist in his release.

While Joan McKinnon does not recall being harassed or discriminated against due to her grandfather’s internment she does recall two bizarre incidents that occurred during his internment. In the first incident her uncle Dan Mascioli was attacked outside her family home and in the second the family dog was poisoned on Christmas day.