Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Goodbye my Friends

Three years ago, when I was driving to my Aunt’s house, I saw something that opened the Italian-Canadian flood gates of my mind. Memories of happy days with cousins and friends came flooding back to me, and after spending time with Zia, I rushed home to write them all down as a tribute to my Italian-Canadian roots.  While writing out my memories, one particular thought hit me like a thunderbolt.  The era I had grown up in—that early-immigrant culture—was gone. Those of us who were born to immigrant parents are not who our parents were, and many of our parents have transformed over the years, adapting new ways and a new culture (though I’m willing to bet most of our moms still use rags rather than Swiffing the dust away.) Ma che Swiffer?! Ma per piacere! Much of the good times and hilarity I remember was rooted in our frugal roots.  Learning to live on less and making the most of what we had— whether or not it was tomato season was a religion that few of us practice anymore.

But back to the story I first wrote in 2009. I tried to peddle Growing up Italian-Canadian and what to do about it to Toronto’s major newspapers and a few national Canadian magazines but got the va via response instead.  More attempts and rejection letters later, I filed the story away and forgot all about it. Only when a friend asked about its outcome a year later did I decide to take another look at it and publish it myself. And so this blog was born. 
The past 10 months have been fun and nostalgic and I thank all of you for reading my stories. I am deeply grateful to have had you as followers. I hadn’t planned on leaving you so soon, but I have an opportunity to take on more responsibility in the work I love to do and I’m going to go for it. If I keep blogging while taking on this increased work load, I'll be a regular Joe Pesce before long. And since I've learned my limits at this point in my life, I've decided my stories must end here. I’m glad I had a chance to contribute a portion of my Italian-Canadian memories, and delighted that I had any followers at all! I hope you’ll revisit these pages when you’re feeling a bit nostalgic, or look up other sources that pay tribute to our roots.  

Vincenzo Pietropaolo’s powerful and moving photo-documentary book Not Paved with Gold is one I revisit every now and then. I’m so happy to have it in my personal library and highly recommend it. The Italian-Canadian Museum in Vaughan provides a wonderful tribute to a time and culture that’s slowly slipping away. And if you like to travel and love history, you may want to visit the Canadian Museum of Immigration in Halifax. Just last week, I met someone who told me he's planning a family pilgrimage to Pier 21. He and his parents emigrated to Canada when he was 10 and he wants to go back with his kids to look up some history there. How cool is that?  Check out www.pier21/ca

Time has changed many of our traditions but there’s one I’m planning to keep as long as I’m able. Come fall, you’ll find me at my favorite farm knee-deep in perfect bushels of tomatoes and sweet red peppers. I’ll select a few for the trunk of my car, then chat with the owner while we work our way over to the vegetable stand to select a few eggplants, zucchini and other gifts from the earth. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Thanks again everyone! Arrivederci e tante belle cose.


  1. I will miss your stories, and recipes, and memories. You have enlightened, and entertained me, and I will miss your blog. I wish you all the best in your new endeavors, and hope to personally hear more of your stories. Thanks for sharing.

  2. It's too bad I found this blog so late...too bad you aren't still writing. I'm blogging about being Italian-Canadian too and it would have been amazing to chat and share!