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Families

Vito Vescio
April 1955

Our trip was never without excitement; we left our hometown of Sambiasc Clabria in late March, as we were to travel to Canada on the Vulcania on April 1, 1955 departing from the Port of Naples. Well, our excitement started right away as I was sick and no matter how much my dad tried to bribe the captain, there was no way he would let us board. We were told that the next ship to make the same passage was on April 2nd, 1955 on the sister ship Saturnia.

I guess I must have gotten better as we boarded the next day to a journey, which would take us 12 days to arrive in Halifax. The Vescio family of 6 plus the remaining 537 passengers left the Port of Naples and would make the following stops during our journey. Our first stop was in Palermo, then Genoa, Cannes, Barcelona, Gibraltar, Casablanca, Lisbon and then Halifax. This ship's final destination was New York.

The stops in each of the cities were short in duration; the one stop where we stayed a longer period of time was Barcelona and Lisbon. While in Lisbon, we had enough time that we attempted to see the Prince of Italy who had moved to Lisbon after the war. My dad had met the Prince, Umberto of Savoia, during World War II and he must have told him to visit whenever he is in town. Well, we were in town but the Prince was not. King Umberto of Savoia died in 1983.

As you can imagine, none of us had ever been on such a luxury liner. My dad had been at sea but I do not imagine that the war ships were luxurious. The trip back then cost my parents a total of 600,000 liras for the six of us. My parents, at that time, had four children. We occupied two rooms on either the third or fourth floor of the ship. The ship was huge with three swimming pools, movie theatres, etc. Meals were served three times a day and the food was more than truly needed. My mother had never seen grapes in the winter months and the grapes would be on the dining room tables every meal. The southern part of Italy did not import produce in those days.

The trip on the Mediterranean Sea and Tyrrhenian Sea was calm, however once we crossed the Strait of Gibraltar into the Atlantic, the trip was a little more rough and almost everyone on board had headaches and was throwing up. This lasted for two days.

We arrived in Halifax on April 14, 1953. Disembarked and waited for a few hours to fill out our papers and were shown the direction to get on the train for Montreal. Talk about courage, being in a foreign country with a pregnant wife and 4 young children and not speaking any other language, having to board a train to Montreal not knowing if anyone would be there to greet us. Well, we did board the train on April 14, 1953 at 10:00 a.m. and arrived in Montreal at 11:30 p.m. Then we took buses and streetcars to our final destination of Lachine, Quebec. My parents are still there today, not in the same house but in the same city.

I told you earlier that our lives were full of surprises; well I took your advice and wrote to the Public Rights Administration, Citizenship and Immigration Canada to obtain our landed immigration papers etc. It was revealed that my oldest sister was registered as a boy named Angelo instead of a girl named Angela. Her date of birth was registered as being on November 5, 1940 instead of November 6, 1940. I tried to get that changed and the ministry said that I would have to produce the original passport that is now 47 years old and only God knows where the passport would be.

Anyway, I have had fun doing some of the research and would strongly suggest to immigrants not to wait to do the research.