When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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Gus and Assunta Dotto

Dotto family, Brule Mines, Alberta. Gus was born in Edmonton in 1915. His parents came to Canada in 1914. They lived in Edmonton until he was six months old, then moved to Pocahontas, then moved to Brule and stayed there until 1928. After that his dad took the family down to Edson for nine months while he worked in the mines at Cadomin. After nine months in Edson, the family moved up to Cadomin until the mines closed. His wife Assunta was born in 1922, in a small place near Valvazone. She went to school there with her five sisters. Her father was already in Canada farming. In 1939 Assunta, her mother, and three of her sisters made the move to Canada. Gus and Assunta got engaged (1942-43) while he was in the army. They married in 1945. Assunta's sister, Emilia Raffin, also made the journey to Canada, and is featured in the interview. When she arrived in the Edmonton area she took work in a hotel and rooming house in the mining town of Cadomin. Emilia says she made more money in a week in Canada than she was able to make in a month in Italy, and she got to be at home with her family every night.

The interview was conducted by Carmela Marino and Anna Bruni for the Italians Settle in Edmonton Project in 1983 resulting in the commemorative booklet of the same name.

This was a 25th anniversary project of the Santa Maria Goretti Parish. A Society was set up and a committee struck to undertake the research. The President was Frank Sdao and the research was led by Dr. Adriana Albi Davies.

Gus and Assunta Dotto: Oral History Excerpts

Gus Dotto describes the isolation between the towns of the Coal Branch as compared to the ease of access between the towns in the Crowsnest Pass, where sister-in-law Emilia lived. 

Click here to listen!

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