-So you were enjoying life in Canada then? Were you missing Koper?–
“Well you miss it because – you see you don’t miss the lifestyle because you leave home and you have to start living different and you almost forget… I had a good life, I still have a good life – so now that I have kids here I sold most of my land there… But yeah, I’m happy here, no regrets.“
Table of Contents
Published by : Krystal Furlani
Quando cresci in una società del dopoguerra, le opportunità di lavoro sono limitate. Ladi Furlani è nato a Trieste nel 1944, un anno prima della fine della seconda guerra mondiale. Il mio progetto si concentrerà su come è stato crescere nel dopoguerra e perché è partito. Essendo nato in Italia, cresciuto al confine tra Italia e Jugoslavia (oggi Slovenia), per trasferirsi in Svezia e infine in Canada. Il progetto segue la vita di Ladi, i molti lavori che ha avuto, le difficoltà che ha affrontato in attesa di approvazione per andare in Canada e la bella vita che ha fatto lì.
La Vita di Ladi Furlani Prima del Canada
Essendo nato nel 1944 in Trieste, Italia; Ladi Furlani è cresciuto al confine tra Italia e Jugoslavia (oggi Slovenia). Otto messi dopo che era nato, Trieste è stata divisa in due parti Zona A e Zona B. Ladi si è trasferito nella Zona B, questa Zona apparteneva alla Jugoslavia. Gli ho chiesto se crescere vicino al confine fosse difficile – lui ha detto no, però ha detto che era la sua esperienza. Perché era nato in Italia aveva una carta d’identità speciale che gli permetteva di attraversarlo più facilmente. Così, quando era più giovani è andato in Italia ogni giorno, alla scuola o per prendere un caffè. Davvero, ha detto un giorno quando è stato preso da scuola da sua madre, stavano parlando in sloveno – il suo insegnante era davvero sorpreso. Perché lui parlava un perfetto italiano e il suo insegnante non sapeva che abitava in Zona B.
Ladi ha detto che ha avuto una bella vita in Jugoslavia ma non era la vita che voleva. Dopo avere letto il libro “White Fang”, guardando film e vedere le foto del Canada, Ladi ha saputo volere trasferirsi in Canada. Tuttavia, quando ha applicato è stata un’attesa di 1 o 2 anni, perché il Canada non aveva bisogno di ingegneri in quel momento. Mentre Ladi stava aspettando il Canada era in un campo profughi, nella sua stanza, era con due croati e un serbo. I croati e i serbi non andavano d’accordo e combattevano ogni notte. Così, Ladi non voleva restare lì per molto tempo. Quindi ha fatto una richiesta alla Svezia, dal momento che l’attesa non era lunga quanto il Canada.
Un paio di mesi dopo, Ladi abitava in Svezia. Ha lavorato come meccanico in Svezia su navi e motori per due anni. A Ladi non piaceva la vita in Svezia, pensava di avere una vita migliore in Jugoslavia e in Italia. Fortunatamente, dopo due anni in Svezia ha fatto una richiesta in Canada e 4 mesi dopo era in Canada.
La Vita di Ladi Furlani nel Cananda
Ladi è arrivato in Canada 19 giugno 1967. Quando è arrivato, era esattamente come pensava che sarebbe stato. Lui ha detto che gli piaceva il Canada subito – ha trovato un lavoro veloce e ha pensato che l’inglese fosse una lingua facile e aveva cugino in Canada anche. Ladi ha lavorato come meccanico sull’automazione e la robotica, ha lavorato in alcuni luoghi, la più grande impresa essendo Chrysler e Magna. Ha lavorato a Chrysler per 12 anni, Magna per 16 anni, e ha lavorato da solo e con i suoi cugini. Nel 1968 arrivata Eda, si sono sposati un mese dopo. Due anni dopo hanno avuto loro primo figlio, Davide e 10 anni dopo hanno avuto un altro figlio, Marco. Gli ho chiesto se avesse mancato la vita in Italia e Slovenia – lui ha detto no, perché lui è felice con sua vita in Canada e visita Italia e Slovenia una volta all’anno.
* Technical difficulty – beginning of conversation was inaudible. Ladi began the conversation speaking about the border changes, born in Trieste, Italy but the border changed to Yugoslavia 8 months later separating Trieste into different zones. *
Ladi: What I’m saying that then it became Yugoslavia – so yes I was born in Italy but then raised in Yugoslavia.
Marko (Ladi’s son): My favourite story is, my grandfather, his father – was born in Austria, died in Slovenia, lived in Italy and Yugoslavia, but never moved once.
Ladi: no no, when he was born it was Italy
Marko: was it? I thought it was Austria
Ladi: Actually, Actually yes it was still Austria because he was born in 1915 and the war ended in 1918 so yes it was still Austria – and 18 is when it became Italy.
K: So born in Trieste November 29 1944 and then 7 months later it was separated into zone A and zone B – you were placed in Zone B
Ladi: yes, we lived in Zone B – which later became Yugoslavia. However the Zone was after the second war until 1953 I believe and then it became Yugoslavia – but zone B was still under Yugoslavia.
K: Was any of your family separated by the border changing? Did you have any family in Zone A?
Ladi: well yeah, Trieste – well lets we live in Koper or Capo d’Istria, we live basically in the centre like 500m away from the centre so from my house to centre of Trieste its only like 10km well you gotta go around the bay if you go straight line it’s about 1.5 km.
Marko: but you got the mountain there
Ladi: it’s a little hill
K: was there border control?
Ladi: oh yeah
Marko: you can still see the borders between Trieste and Slovenia
Ladi: yeah, you can still see the checkpoint – the small building. When I was a kid we used to go to Trieste the uh we would get off the bus go through the building go through the customs declare or show what you have go out and get back on the bus.
K: was it ever difficult crossing the border?
Ladi: no, it wasn’t hard – for us it wasn’t hard to cross because we didn’t need a passport anyone that was born there or even the parents that were born there before 1947 they had the ID card that looked like a passport that was a brown colour – like a coffee colour, a light coffee colour lets say and the passport was red we could cross anytime any day and the guys with the passports had to get a visa anytime they wanted to cross. My father used to go and have a coffee in Trieste all the time because from my house – stop at the border maybe 20 minutes and he was already drinking coffee
K: was there any tension though between those living in Yugoslavia and Italy?
Marko: well the Yugoslavians had nothing against the Italians – If you go near the border on the Slovenian side all the Slovenians there speak Slovenian and Italian on the Italian side they don’t know one word in Slovenian – most of them.
Ladi: Yeah most of them today – but when I was growing up, I don’t know the percentage lets say at least 50 percent living in Trieste spoke Italian and Slovenian but you have too know – before they put that border there people were living everywhere if you look at my grandfather I think he had 5 brothers and 2 sisters and out of those, 3 brothers stayed on the farms which were just outside of Koper and the 2 sisters and 2 brothers lived in Trieste. That was one country and one time it was under Austria for a couple hundred years and after first war it was Italy and then after second war they divide it. Only for the first three years you couldn’t go zone A to Zone B vise versa but only for the first 3 years I think. I don’t know though I was too small. We used to go up to see my aunt she lived in *inaudible* which is above Trieste just a few km away from border and instead of going through Trieste which is a shortcut we had to go around the border – but only for those few years I think. And in those few years I believe people were allowed to move from one side to the other either from Italy to Yugoslavia or Yugoslavia to Italy I don’t think anyone from Italy moved to Yugoslavia, but a lot of people moved from Yugoslavia there that was legal, in that Zone a Zone B, not from outside. That’s it after the few years that was it you couldn’t move anymore but they opened the borders and you could cross anytime basically.
K: Growing up – was the infrastructure destroyed from the War? Was it difficult living in a post-war society?
Ladi: the cites – Trieste or Koper were not touched by the war, from what I heard Americans were supposed to bomb Trieste but instead of bombing Trieste there was a deal between partisans from the area and American army or air force they decided instead of bombing city they will bomb the what do you call it, the ocean liner I believe it was called REX and I believe that was, at the time that was the fastest passenger ship in the world when the war started they moved it from Trieste to outside the Trieste bay and in Koper bay and so they leave all the lights on REX and instead of Trieste they bomb the ship they sunk it right there right off the coast.
Marko: *laughing* is that the ship you used to go out to and steal all the metal? Until you sunk you uncles’ boat and had to find that
Ladi: yeah I had to take it out.
K: I think we should elaborate on this “stealing metal story”, is that something you’d want to share?
Ladi: well I was stealing because it was prohibited that nobody was allowed to remove anything from REX but you see Yugoslav government came and cut the ship up and took whatever they needed it was only like 5-10m of water there so half of it was out of water – they left a lot of bug pieces and wire and wire you know is copper basically in what do you call the lead, lead shield so that was a lot of money so as kids we used to go swim down there because form Koper is was only like 2km just around the little bay and so we spend our days there picking stuff up.
Marko: Yeah but you took your Uncles ship and sunk it.
Ladi: yeah but that was the last time we were there, we borrowed the boat.
Marko: yeah the boat your Uncle needed to make a living.
Ladi: yeah he was a fisher.
K: so you unfortunately sunk the boat?
Ladi: yeah, we filled it up too much, next day we went back a lift it up – we were four guys going to school together but we weren’t the only one there but there were a lot of other guys. I mean why not? You make a few dinners from that.
Eda (Ladi’s wife): And a ring for me
Ladi: yes, that was from the last shipment *laughing*
Eda: you want I make more coffee? Or no we about to have a meal.
Ladi: so once we were about to go home in the evening there was somebody came with the small boat but I motor boat so it was going quite fast and it made waves and that boat was a few inches above our boat so the waves filled up with water and the next day we go back empty the boat take off the motor dry it up put it back and nobody ever knew about it.
K: At this time you were already with Eda?
Ladi: yeah at that time I must have been 16/17 but we started cleaning up REX when we were 14.
K: How long were you living in Yugoslavia before you decided to move?
Ladi: I finished school lets say I was 21, then to me, in my opinion the life was good we had enough money for movies and a few other things but basically we didn’t live bad as students but when you have to go on your own and you start looking around and you see that there may not be much future because especially Yugoslavia for example they were building roads and bigger up in Ljubljana and up in those places but when it come to by the sea they wanted the sea but didn’t want to spend the money to build roads so the highway up there was built when I was a kid and the highway was brought the next 100km down to Koper and it was finished there when I was 67 – its only been a few years that that’s been finished. Ok the big bridge and all that.
Marko: Well yeah I remember the last time I went it only took me 1 hour to Ljubljana which was beautiful but the time before that it took over two hours – it was a full day trip.
Ladi: yeah because now it is like the 401 you got two up two down.
K: So then you decided to move to Sweden? Since there wasn’t much new opportunity near Koper
Ladi: I went up there well first you see to go there I had a choice to go like some of my cousins did they went to Italy and they became Italian citizens now I didn’t want to stay in Italy, so as soon as I left I went to the refugee camp not to the camp where my cousins went, and I apply to go to Canada and from Trieste I had to go to Latina and you had older Slovenians, Croatians, Serbians and the Croatian and Serbians were fighting all the time and in my room down there in Latina there were two Croatians and one Serbian so one of the Croatian and one of the Serbian were fighting almost every night and physically fighting so when I was there the first night they start fighting they end up through the glass through the window it was ground floor of course and I ask the guy and he says oh this happens every night and then I found out I would have to wait in that camp between 1/1.5 years to go to Canada because I heard Canada at that time they were taking immigrants of their choice and even though I had papers that showed Canada wanted people with those papers I had to wait for the commissioner when they come for the interview the interviews were closed for a minimum for 6 months at that time so I was told a year maybe year and half before I can go and I said I’m not living with these animals for almost a year so in the office there so I ask what’s the fastest way out of here and he said you can go to Australia and if you wanna go to Australia you can be in Naples on the ship in two weeks. Well I said Australia is too far I’m not going there he said well the next one will be Sweden, I go could to the USA that was up to two years wait, New Zealand was two years, Australia two weeks but that was too far, so I could go to Sweden that was one month wait so I said sure I’ll take the one month. So basically, when the immigration came I had the interview. My papers were in Trieste though because I was gonna wait there to go to Canada but then I go to Sweden and I didn’t have my papers so I had to wait for my papers from Trieste, so I had to wait a few weeks. Basically, I was in the camp for 81 days and then I was on the next shipment. I didn’t wait in Latina though because the ship to Sweden was from near Naples. There were still a lot of fights between Serbs and Croatians, but it didn’t involve us though.
K: so what did you do for the two years you were in Sweden?
Ladi: well I was, I worked in Vaxjo, yeah I think that’s how you spell it and I worked in a place where they were building big fans like fans you could walk right into. I went there since I could weld. I was there I believe two months and there wasn’t enough money, I didn’t like it. In two months I learned enough Sweden to look for another job and I saw another job in the paper 50km away, you see they wouldn’t give me a day off so I phoned in sick and I went there for interview and I came back the next day and they called be into the office and they ask me what happened and I said oh I was sick I was coughing they ask if I went to the doctor I said no I had a cold I don’t want to give it to the others and they were telling me they could see I wasn’t home all day because I was living in the apartments that the company owned and it was across from the factory and my car was parked right there and in the morning they could tell my car was gone. So basically, I was told I was terminated for looking for another job.
K: did you get the new job at least?
Ladi: up there I got the job, yeah so I didn’t care – why would I go to a little city of 2,000 the money was good yeah almost double but I was going from 33,000 to 2,000. But uh, you see what I did I went to the unemployment office and I ask is there anywhere I can get on a ship, because I don’t want to stay in Sweden. You see Sweden at that time to me I was living better at home then being alone in Sweden and trying to make ends meet. Everything was good you have everything, medical. But I was young, I work for money and I was healthy. I always planned to go to Canada, the first time I said that I was 15, I said when I grow up I go to Canada.
K: When you were 15 were some of your cousin already in Canada?
Ladi: yes, Nevio was here. But you see that did not influence my decision. What influence me was I used to read books at a very young age and I can’t think of the name but it was that, about the dog in newfoundland, the wild, white, white fang? Something ok. The book was whatever white something. The writer was that, what’s his name – oh shoot.
K: We can look it up if you like?
Ladi: yeah, I forgot.
Eda: What are you talking about? White fang?
Ladi: yeah, who wrote that book? … oh, it was Jack London! That’s it. That book in a way started to give me the idea, at the age of maybe 13/14 you can dream things but maybe they don’t happen. It was maybe I stay in Koper, or to Trieste and try to work over there but there was not much future – in my opinion there was not much future, you could live and survive but I wanted more than to just survive, so that’s why I left. So I went to unemployment and he said I think I have a guy on a ship looking for a third engineer. I said I have no clue about ships, I know the engines, I know all kind of mechanical stuff don’t worry, so he makes the phone call and spoke to the captain and then the captain handed the phone to the first engineer and the chief said no problem we have to have someone, he’s a technician so he should know enough to start. So the next morning I left, I go there in the afternoon and the guy showed me and I’ll stay the first shift and see what happens. So I stayed a few months but you see that tanker was only going, was filling up, taking oil from land, filling up and taking fuel to big ships that couldn’t make it to the harbour, stuff like this. Inland today, outland tomorrow, back the next. Basically just filling up big ships. So then after that I, I decided I would go to a bigger ship – so when we were in Stockholm, so I went to the unemployment over there – well actually the seaman’s club – and I went there I ask for either something to go to Asia, Africa, and they said they got one they need an engineer – so then I stayed there for over a year.
Eda: Okay, meal is ready – time to break for lunch.
K: okay – so we finished talking about Sweden – when in Sweden did you decide that you were going to try and apply to Canada?
Ladi: well now it was the right time – and um once on the ship I said I stay on the ship or I move inland but I would not move to Sweden because in my opinion I live better at home. So I apply, I found the Canadian embassy in Stockholm – they give me the application I fill it out, I hand it back they give me another one I fill it out, which was almost a copy of the first one and two months later they tell me next time I’m in Stockholm to come for interview. So I did and the consul there was helpful she arranged all my appointments – then she told me she arranged everything for the doctor and that’s it – few weeks later they tell me to send my passport to them to give the visa. That was it – basically from the day I started to the day I came to Canada that was only a few months. You see I guess I had the papers for the jobs they were looking for that year.
K: so what year did you move to Canada?
Ladi: that was 67, June 19, 1967.
K: Did Eda come with you to Canada right away?
Ladi: no, no she came one year late in 68 – Canadian government gives you a month to get married or else she had to go back
K: so when Eda moved to Canada you weren’t married yet?
Ladi: noo, she came here in May and we married in June and that was 50 years ago. That was 68 so 51 years.
K: when you first arrived to Canada what was it like? Was it what you expected?
Ladi: well, in a way yes. The way I pictured Canada yes – I read books and saw movies so it was what ive seen. The job, I worked as diesel mechanic. So I worked as diesel mechanic but to me the guy wasn’t paying me enough he was paying the other guys 2 dollars more and the German guy saw and went to the boss’ office then came out saying that I would start getting paid like everyone else and two weeks later the German guy asked if I got it and I said not yet and he went back into the office to speak to the supervisor and said the next pay day for sure. And by that time I was there a few months I already spoke to somebody else and uh – I cant recall but a big sign company – for gas stations – so uh I went in one day said thank you very much and left, by Monday I was working at the new place. It was not bad – since I knew a lot about mechanical and electrical stuff but still they didn’t pay me enough. So I thought how are they gonna give me the increase? So I ask and I got it, a month or two later. About 6 months later I moved – oh it was called tech plastic. I was there for exactly one year and one day. The guy didn’t want me to leave but too late I found another job. Then I started something on my own – I did that for several months then one of my cousins persuaded me to work together – we would buy a big tractor truck and transport fruit and vegetable back we did that for a year – we then had a little disagreement, and I left – because we needed repairs on the truck, the business was not that great and the repairs would be a few thousand dollars. My cousins brother he said if you want a loan I would help you – so I left and if his brother would help him why I need to be there, I was young and I left and I work in post office for a few weeks and at the same time I was looking for a job in Chrysler – Chrysler was the first place I applied actually when I moved to Canada. But they told me they don’t want me now because they don’t need anyone and 3 years later I applied there I got the job. Now, I was promised by the plant manager in the post office to be his assistant within a week or so and then I got the job in Chrysler – the post office offered 14,000 dollars a year which was a lot of money for 1970 – the post office said you become my assistant in a week. Now Chrysler offered me 20,000 a year now I was 25 years old and I came in this country to live better and with 6,000 more a year I could live much better because with 6,000 I could buy a Cadillac, now I didn’t buy it until I was 50 years old but I could have. And um, so anyway I didn’t know how to tell the guy in the post office and anyway I had to tell him I had to leave. I’ll stay until Friday and Monday I have to start in Chrysler. So I was there for 12 years I was working on the automating the plant so we were getting rid of people to replace with machine. Then I went on my own for a bit and I was doing automation and robotics on my own and I started to do construction on my own again about 12 years – 10 to 12 years. After that the Canadian economy was going down the drain so it started to get slow – oh I could still make a good living but just working a few days a week and just making a living wasn’t for me. So I started looking around I end up in Magna international they made parts – car parts basically. At one time they were the biggest supplier of car parts in the entire world. So there I was doing the same thing – automotive robotics and I was there for the next 16 years.
K: so what year did you start at Magna?
Ladi: I think I started there in 94 and in 2009 I was 65 and I asked if I could stay because my wife was gonna quit a year later so I can stay another year and about 6 months down the road he person asked listen I know you’re waiting for your wife to retire, so we’re gonna do something better we’ll give a year pay just keep you here as you were working, you get all the benefits without coming in. I said of course so she got all the papers and I retired at the end of April and then my wife retired in March the next year.
*break for coffee – during coffee Ladi started talking about the Italian and Slovenian language*
Ladi: growing up in my house one day we would speak Italian and one day Slovenian. And in kindergarten it was Italian – often my mother would ask me things in Italian and I would respond in Slovenian. One day she was picking me up and she asked me something and I responded in Slovenian and the nuns were surprised they didn’t know I could speak Slovenian. The nuns they didn’t speak a word Slovenian – that was when I was 3 – 4.
K: Did you have any brothers or sister?
Ladi: noo, but I had my cousins here and people often thought that we were brothers. They use to say your brother so and so and I didn’t bother to correct them – and we all have the same last name so. We didn’t have problems and if we did we would argue and then 5 minutes later it was ok. Basically, the arguments were over cards.
K: so you were enjoying life in Canada then? Were you missing Koper?
Ladi: well you miss it because – you see you don’t miss the lifestyle because you leave home and you have to start living different and you almost forget. So it’s not the lifestyle you miss, to me I had good jobs I made good money – David was born two years after we were married and Marko 10 years later and once the kids were born and once you have kids you don’t really want to move. And its like you’ve always lived here and I went home every year so really well im sure my parents would prefer I stay there. But I wanted to leave. You see – today what we did 50 years back everybody is doing it. That’s how we live you go after a job you go after something. I had a good life, I still have a good life – so now that I have kids here I sold most of my land there. I still have some land. I think all of my cousins felt exactly the same way, today you basically live the same there as you do here but maybe not as much money. But yeah, I’m happy here, no regrets.