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Interviews With Paula Mascioli


June 16, 2011


Columbus Centre



Interview 1 With Paula Mascioli

Paula Mascioli is the granddaughter of Leopoldo (Leo) Mascioli and the great-niece of Antonio (Tony) Mascioli who were both interned on June 10, 1940. At the time of their internment both were successful businessmen and active community members in Timmins, Ontario. They were both interned at Petawawa and released on February 18, 1941, but Tony was re-arrested in September of 1941 and detained for an additional month. Like other families, the internment experience was rarely discussed in the Mascioli home. It was only after her father Daniel’s death that Paula discovered a box of letters and documents that her father had kept from that period. Through the letters she was able to learn even more about the traumatic experience that her family members went through. Some of what she learned revolved around her father, who at 27 had to take responsibility for the businesses, employees, as well as try to organize a defence for his father and uncle. These letters, which were heavily censored, offer a glimpse of camp life through the care packages received, the work details, the food, the exercise program, comedy acts discussed, in addition to recounting the severe boredom endured.

In this opening clip Paula Mascioli introduces herself and her family members. She also speaks her parents and grandparents and of the regions they came from in Italy.

Paula Mascioli mentions that while she knew of her grandfather and great-uncle’s internments growing up, she did not learn the details about their internments until she discovered a number of documents in letters that her father had kept from the period.

In this clip Paula Mascioli describes the various business endeavours that her grandfather, Leo Mascioli, and her great-uncle, Tony Mascioli, were involved in. She speaks of their humble beginnings in Northern Ontario and how they eventually grew their business to expand beyond Timmins.

Paula Mascioli details her grandfather’s migration to Canada in the early 1900s, early jobs he was employed in and the hardships he faced.

Paula Mascioli describes the events surrounding the arrest of her grandfather and great-uncle on June 10, 1940. She mentions that her grandfather was arrested in Toronto and held briefly at the CNE Grounds and that it was very difficult to find out information about his arrest. She also mentions that the family immediately hired a lawyer to assist in the case.

In this clip Paula Mascioli provides the dates which her grandfather and great-uncle were arrested and released. She also mentions that her great-uncle Tony Mascioli was re-arrested in September 1941.

Paula Mascioli discusses the content of the letters sent between her father, Dan Mascioli, and her grandfather, Leo Mascioli, while Leo was interned at Camp Petawawa.

In this brief clip Paula Mascioli mentions that her father tried to attend Leo Mascioli’s hearing in Petawawa, but was not allowed in. However, to her knowledge other businessmen from Timmins did attend the hearing and Tony Mascioli’s wife also visited on one occasion.

Paula Mascioli discusses her grandfather’s friendship with Roy Thomson and how Thomson served as a character witness at Leo Mascioli’s hearing.

Paula Mascioli discusses the items that were included in the care packages sent to Leo Mascioli while he was interned.

In this brief clip Paula Mascioli mentions that her father rarely spoke about life at home in his letters to Leo Mascioli and instead tried to keep his letters positive and upbeat.

Paula Mascioli speaks about Leo Mascioli’s objection to his internment, legal representations and the resulting hearing.

In this clip Paula Mascioli discusses Tony and Leo Mascioli’s involvement with the Italian Canadian community, Italian Consulate and local fascio in Timmins and how this involvement was used by the government to justify their internments.

Paula Mascioli speaks about Leo and Tony Mascioli’s release from internment and Tony’s subsequent re-arrest. She also speaks about the conditions placed on Leo’s release.

Paula Mascioli mentions that the Custodian of Enemy Property did not seize her grandfather’s business while he was interned, but rather allowed Dan to continue running the businesses with government supervision.

Paula Mascioli discusses incidents of discrimination that her family faced during the internment period. She also mentions that her father rarely spoke about the events that took place during World War II.

Paula Mascioli discusses the lasting effects the internment had on her grandfather and great-uncle. While Tony Mascioli took his internment in stride and was easily able to return to normal life after his release, Leo Mascioli was greatly disappointed by the events surrounding his internment. Paula mentions that his sense of frustration and disappointment come through in later letters sent from the camp and that upon his release he moved away from the Timmins community.

Paula Mascioli reads from a document that outlines what the internees and their family members could and couldn’t write about in their correspondence.

Paula Mascioli discusses the a negative letter written by one-time Timmins mayor J.P. Bartleman and published in Hush magazine that was used to justify Leo Mascioli’s continued internment.

Paula Mascioli discusses finding the letters and documents relating to the internment period in her mother’s basement and how she was intrigued by the documents as they were able to shed light on her family history which she knew little about.

In this brief clip Paula Mascioli mentions that her father and grandfather rarely shared their personal feelings on the internment and never spoke of their feelings regarding apology and redress.

Paula Mascioli speaks about her uncle Keith Alexander Stirling who served in World War II while Leo and Tony Mascioli were interned. She mentions that Keith wrote letters of support for both Leo and Tony, attesting to their character and their views on fascism.

In this clip Paula Mascioli briefly speaks about the letter Leo Mascioli received after he was released requesting payment for the government’s management of his affairs during his internment.

Paula Mascioli discusses the relationships her grandfather formed in camp with other internees.

Paula Mascioli speaks about life and work in the camp.


November 04, 2011


Columbus Centre



Interview 2 With Paula Mascioli

Paula Mascioli talks about a portrait of her grandfather, Leopoldo (Leo) Mascioli, created when he was interned at Camp Petawawa. Paula’s great-uncle, Antonio (Tony) Mascioli, was also interned at the camp. The portrait is dated August 1940 and signed by artist and fellow internee, Vincenzo Poggi. Paula says that the sketch is important to her because it is the only tangible memento she has of her grandfather’s time in the camp, apart from the letters that he wrote to her father. Paula says the sketch is a good example of the kinds of people that were in the camp and how they used their skills to pass the time, entertain each other, and help each other out. In the camps, there were artists, writers, carvers, and cooks. Those internees who were literate would help others write letters to their families back home. Paula has her grandfather’s letters which feature three different styles of handwriting but always included his signature at the bottom. She suggests that a supportive community evolved within the camp. She also notes that the sketch shows a different side to her grandfather, a softer side that is not apparent in photographs.

Paula Mascioli discussing a portrait of her grandfather, Leopoldo Mascioli, created when he was interned at Camp Petawawa.