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Single Men and Women

Maria Disipio nee Stenta
May 1954

As recounted to my daughter Grace - on my behalf.

I married my husband Frank, before we had even met. He was living in Ottawa, Canada, having arrived here in 1950. He became friends with a gentleman named Alfredo who had emigrated from my home town and who was a friend of our family. Frank wanted to marry, but to a nice Italian girl from back home, and he got my address from Alfredo. I replied to Frank's first letter, and we subsequently exchanged photographs. After 3 months of corresponding, Frank proposed and I said yes (at the age of almost 20, I was not yet married and considered an 'old maid' - I had nothing to lose, but embark on this new adventure).

On October 11, 1953, I was married in our local church - with my father Giuseppe standing in for Frank - we became married by proxy. The following May, escorted by a family who were friends of my parents and who were also immigrating to Canada, I left Italy to start my new life. Our passage was on a ship called 'La Roma' of the Lauro flotilla, and I arrived in Halifax on May 18th, 1953, loaded down with two trunks containing my wedding trousseau and all my earthly possessions. After being processed, the family I was travelling with and I boarded a coal train for Montreal. In my clean blue suit, I was nervous and anxious. On the train, we were offered pasta, which to our shock and disillusionment, turned out to be canned Chef Boyardee... By the time I arrived in Montreal, not only was my suit no longer fresh, but also a shade darker (thanks to the soot emitting from the coal train). Frank met me at the station with his sister Carmela, and brother in law Luigi - it was our first meeting ever.

We drove back to Ottawa, to a home Frank shared with his parents and siblings. For the first four days, we slept in separate rooms and did not consummate our marriage. On the 5th day, we went to St. Anthony's church and received a blessing from the parish priest. A small reception followed at the home where Frank and I would co-habitat with his family. After a series of odd jobs, Frank found a position as Mason with the Department of Public Works (Gov't. of Canada) where we worked for 30 years before retiring.

I worked for the Public School Board as a Janitor for approximately 10 years, as well as being a full time homemaker and mother to our three children (one son, two daughters). We moved many times before purchasing our first starter home away from 'little Italy', where we lived for eight years. We have returned to Italy countless times to visit my parents. My father however, passed away in May 2001, one day before his 96th birthday. My mother turned 95 this December, and still thrives with assisted care. Meanwhile, Frank and I return annually to assist with her care. I am grandmother to a delightful 8 year old boy, named Daniel - born to my first child, Mario. I will have been in Canada 50 years, this coming May 2004 and although I still love Italy, I am also greatful for and proud of the life we have made in Canada. The adventure continues.