Caffaro Family

Written by Canmore Museum

Attilio Caffaro immigrated to Canmore from the Piedmont area of northern Italy in 1919. He was fourteen years of age and came through Ellis Island, New York with a coat tag with his name and destination, and was put on a train to Montreal and then to Canmore where his sister and brother-in-law, Adelina and Lodovic Massole, awaited his arrival along with their two sons, George and Cardo Massole.

Attilio Caffaro immediately went to work with the railway maintenance gang at the Canmore coalyards and with night school, went through high school with the encouragement of the then principal Munroe MacLeod. After graduating from high school, while still working at the mine, he got his journeyman welder’s ticket and then became a master mechanic. He also obtained steam engineer papers and gradually worked himself up until when he retired he was mechanical superintendent of the mine in Canmore. 

In 1932 Attilio brought his bride, Caterina Giono Caffaro, to Canmore, having married her in Lessolo Torino, Italy. Caterina and Attilio came from the same town and were related. A son, Peter, was born in 1934, followed by a son, George, in 1940, and a son, Paul in 1949. The Massoles left for California in the late ’30’s and tragedy struck the family when both George and Cardo Massole were drowned and swept out to sea in San Francisco. Shortly thereafter, Attilio’s sister, Adelina, died and Lodovic remarried.

All his life, Attilio Caffaro was very content to live in Canmore and he regarded Canada as the best country on earth. He was a very patriotic person and he interacted well with all the men who worked with and for him at the Canmore mines. 

Upon his retirement he and Caterina elected to stay in Canmore. Their sons all went to university. Peter became a lawyer and eventually became a provincial court judge and is now the Assistant Chief Judge of the Criminal Courts, Edmonton, Alberta. George obtained his doctorate in educational administration and is the vice-principal of St. Francis Xavier High School in Edmonton. Paul obtained his medical degree and practices medicine in Slave Lake, Alberta.

Attilio and Caterina celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in the presence of family, friends, and Caterina’s sister, Elda, who had traveled all the way from Italy to be present in 1982. Shortly thereafter, Attilio died at the age of seventy-eight and is buried in the Canmore cemetery. Caterina, at the age of eighty-two, moved to Slave Lake and is presently a tenant of Vanderwell Heritage Lodge at Slave Lake and will celebrate her ninety-first birthday on May 2nd.

The Caffaros were among the early Italian Canadian families who resided in Canmore, along with the Sandrellis, the Chiaverinas, the Roddas, the Giovanettos, the Tronos,the Marras, the Ballas and the Rivas. All were drawn to this country by the hope of a better life and without exception, none have been disappointed.

In Canmore Seniors at the Summit, ed. Canmore Seniors Association, 2000, p. 29-30.

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