Goergina Maddott, interviewed by Alexander Pekic, 14 December 2016

Goergina Maddott, interviewed by Alexander Pekic, 14 December 2016

Abstract
Georgina talks about her family's migration to Canada from Italy and the establishment of their family food import business, Pasquale Brothers, and their eventual growth. She then talks about memories of Toronto growing up, her family and travels. Georgina also talks about her employee and friend Kyoko, a Japanese Canadian, and what she knew of Kyoko's life.
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Alexander Pekic (AP)
Okay so it’s the morning of December 14th 2016. I am Alex Pekic speaking with Georgina Maddott as part of the Landscapes of Injustice research project. Georgina thank you very much for meeting with me. And please tell me a bit about yourself and then we’ll talk about Kyoko.
Georgina Maddott (GM)
I was born and raised in Toronto. Never lived anywhere else. I've had an interesting life. A lot of life experiences and still engaged in life at age 90. And I'm pleased, happy, to help Alexander in this project. I hope whatever I tell him we'll be of interest to him and that he can use it for his research.
AP
Thank you very much. So I'm interested to know what your memories are of Toronto when you were growing up and what it was like around the Second World War.
GM
Well Toronto wasn’t the big metropolis that it is now. There was no such thing as rush hour traffic. I dropped out of school when I was 16 because I wanted to go to work. I was a good student but there wasn't enough action at school. They don't want you to work. So I started working with the family business in 1942, November 15th. And I knew I was coming for the interview and I made a few chronological notes. I've always had a Japanese friend. The first one that I remember was associated with Phantom Hosiery. He used to come shopping in the store every couple of months and he would always bring me a box of pure silk stockings that were priceless. And in those days if you had a run in your stocking you didn't throw the stocking away you darned it, mended it. And I remember him just being good-looking and tall. I have no idea what his name is. And I Googled Phantom Hosiery to see if they were still around. Well it's a huge, huge company now. But it was sold in the '50s. So it may not be the same Japanese fellow that I knew. So that was my first experience with Japanese Canadians. Pause. Our business was mainly Italian Imports and so on. And we had an excellent reputation and when the war was over the Wartime Prices and Chair Board came to my father, Edward Pasquale, and asked him if he could handle the rice ration for the Japanese who would be coming out of the internment camps. Most would be coming to Toronto. And my father said yes. And I drew up a ration card. I remember it being light red or dark pink. whatever it was, it was 12 squares. And it was busier than we had anticipated. I don't remember what the rice ration was. The race came in, 100-pound sacks. And my father made friends with a lot of the Japanese customers who came. And he realized that we needed more help. I was getting married, I was engaged at the time and one of my father's closer friends said, “ I've got this very nice secretary, Kyoko Obokata.” And she came for an interview. I interviewed her. She was charming. Tiny, dressed nicely with a suit, hat with a bit of a veil and her gloves. and she spoke well and she seemed fine. we hired her. she was Thirty, that I remember. And she stayed until her retirement. So that is 35 years. And she was a family friend. She used to babysit my brother's children. I was at her wedding. I was at her husband's funeral. I spoke at the funeral. So I had nice connection with Kyo. I always called her Kyoko where is most people called her Kyo or Kay. She married late and had one daughter, Carol. I haven't talked to Carol for a long time. But about 3 or 4 years ago Carol found my daughter and called her up and said “Is your mother still alive?” and my daughter said “Yes, yes, she's going strong.”
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GM
Pause The next --you asked about war time. My two uncles from Montreal, one was very active in the Italian Community, one was not active at all. But didn't matter, they were both picked up and sent to an internment camp at Petawawa. My father visited them for a while. One uncle was released after one year. The other one was held there for 4 years. He sort of ran the camp and -- I brought in as an exhibit for you to prisoner of war mail that my uncle had sent. I'll show it to you later after the interview. And I understand that troublemakers in the Japanese camps were sent to Petawawa as punishment. When I was working a salesman had come in to sell me something, whatever it was. And he asked casually, “Do you know any of the Pasquale's?” well I said, “ I am a Pasquale. Why do you ask?” “Well my father was interned in Petawawa and there was a Enrico Pasquale who ran the camp.” He said “My father was the youngest internee and Enrico Pasquale kept everyone's spirits up while we were there.” So that was a decent memory from wartime. My father visited a couple of times but getting to Petawawa by train, to Ottawa, Montreal, whatever it was, it was quite an adventure. And my uncles company was cigar making and a trustee ran it, but they ran it into the ground. Then I go on to my next Japanese friend. Japanese American. Toshi Imai. Tall, handsome, born and raised in San Francisco. But he too was picked up and sent to Omaha, Nebraska. And he said the only saving grace was that he was living in a house living next door to an Italian family. And they helped his family a lot and he kept in touch with them for the rest of his life. He went to their weddings, he went to their funerals. He used to come to Toronto for the chess tournaments and that's where I met him. And Toshi was quite the gentleman. He was a retired professor of Computer Sciences at the University of Michigan. While I was working we did business, I think this is the name, Fariya (?) Trading. I don't remember the name of the man who ran it but he was a broker. He used to sell us tuna fish. Okay, I'm going back a long time ago. Long, long time ago. But he also imported ceramics. Little bowls, sake, whatever. And they were charming. And we were having a lot of weddings in our family and showers and so on and I always used to order his little bowls for take-homes for the guests. I wish I could remember the man's name, but I can't. So here you are, 2016 and now I've got Gordon Sakamoto. Fellow resident and we have two loves in common. Big bands from the '40s and baseball. And I hang out with Gordon quite a bit.
AP
That's quite the list of Japanese Canadian or Japanese American folk from your past.
GM
Well they were all interesting people. Charming, interesting. I was glad that they passed through my life.
AP
The rice ration, how did that work? The government offered your father's business the opportunity to sell rice to the--
GM
Well we had an excellent reputation, first of all. The name Pasquale, and still, we're in business and we're celebrating a 100 anniversary next year. So it tells you it's a stellar reputation. And rice was in short supply and I'm pretty sure it was the Wartime Prices and Trade Board. I know they were -- they did a lot of different things for the rations. And asked him if he would handle the rice ration. And I remember the card with 12 squares. I think one family member would come in to get the rice ration, once a month. We'd stamp it and that would be it. But I have no idea one pound, five pounds. No clue.
AP
And they had to pay for that rice?
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GM
Oh yes. We sold the rice.
AP
So the ration was then just because there was a shortage in the aftermath of the war and such?
GM
Yes. Rice was their main staple or main food. So that was considerate.
AP
Your uncles ended up in internment sites, but your father didn't. Any idea how that -- how he got lucky if we want to call it that?
GM
laughs My father felt that he had done enough socializing all day at work. People coming and going and so on and he was not interested in a social life after 6 o'clock at night. And my mother didn't go out on her own. And we had been in business since 1917. And the -- my mother and father had both been born in Italy but they came here at a very young age. My mother was 4, my father was 10 or 12, whatever it was. They were fingerprinted and had to report to the RCMP every month. And I guess when they looked around at places that would be convenient and honorable and with a good reputation, Pasquale name was right at the top of the list. There might have been other companies that could have done it, but we were downtown, it was easy to get to on TTC. And their reputation, the name still carries a lot.
AP
Where was that location downtown?
GM
111 King Street East.
AP
So that would have been King and--
GM
King and Church, right on the streetcar line. And that building changed hands a number of times. And lately it was La Maquette, which was a first-rate restaurant. I went there a couple of times. Couldn't recognize anything. It wasn't quite the same as when I remembered it in the '40s.
AP
That spot, 111, when you went to the restaurant, when it was the family store, was it a storefront and a storage area in the back? Or what was the layout like?
GM
It was a storefront in the front. Small, not big, I mean going back a long time ago. You have to remember before the war there were only 20 000 Italians here. And business was good. My father made a living obviously. And in the back was the warehousing and my father had just started packaging salad oil. There was no elevator at the time. There was a ramp and the oil came, what I remember, 425 pound drums. And they had to be rolled up the ramp and my father had one machine to hand pack each gallon of oil. And my father had a lot of foresight. He introduced salad oil to the Italians who had been using strictly olive oil. And when war broke out and there was no imports of olive oil, they were already using salad oil. I have to my brother, I was maybe 12 or 13. He was 16 or 17, delivering samples for the salad oil in the Italian districts on Manning Avenue, Claremont and all that.
AP
So with the experience of your uncles and your father, your uncle's obviously being interned, your father being monitored by the RCMP, your knowledge of Canadian authorities surveilling Italian Canadians was something that you directly experienced.
GM
More or less, and in fact, because of our reputation, the RCMP asked my father if he would inform on Italians. My father showed them the door, “No way.” Well you know Italy was at war. It was wartime.
AP
Did you hear much about the Japanese Canadians at the time? They would have been mostly on the West Coast, so--
GM
No. Knew nothing about the Japanese Canadians. I was a teenager and politics and stuff like that -- when the war broke out I was only 13. My -- it's really funny. My two uncles in the internment camp, Enrico, who was there for 4 years, he had one son, Angelo, in the Army in Italy. He was a treasure because he spoke three languages fluently. English, French, and Italian.
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GM
And he was an ammunition truck driver. He was so good that he was promoted to drive Colonel Harrington and they became buddy-buddy and they used to visit back and forth after the war. My other cousin was stationed in Goose Bay, Labrador. And he was a bat man. I don't know what a bat man is. I think he's, like a man servant or whatever it was. He'd gone to school with Pierre Trudeau, so he had fine manners and would have mixed easily in any circle. Another cousin was in training up at Camp Borden.
AP
Your uncle Enrico, you said when he was in the internment site, that there was a custodian for his business. Do you know much about that custodian and what happened to the business and such?
GM
Well the business went downhill. But I looked for -- I knew I had a couple of letters from him. And I found them an hour ago just before you came. And one of the first, it was written in Italian to my father. And he said “ First of all I want to thank you for all you've done as custodian.” The word you just used. And he mentions the secretary, Miss Nucci, who was there but the business never recovered. Mind you taste changed. He was doing Italian stogies and he didn't branch out to other things. He could have brought matches or other stuff, but I think his spirit was crushed, being in the camp for four years leaving his wife and 4 -- well, 4 children but one was in the service.
AP
So just to ask again, the custodian of his business was not a Canadian government official?
GM
I'm not 100% sure. I think my father was, but I'm not 100% sure.
AP
So your father and the uncles were the original Pasquale brothers that came from Italy.
GM
There were three brothers -- came to Canada. My father was the youngest. One was five years older, the other was 10 years older. And they went to Montreal and then my father and the older brother came to Toronto and they open the small store in 1917. My older uncle had -- worked in a butcher shop and he had a bit of experience. They learned. 1926, well, I have to backtrack. My uncle didn't stay very long. He stayed a couple years and he decided he wanted to go back to Italy. And he did. And he didn't stay long, maybe a year and he said “No, no.” So he went back to Montreal and never came back to Toronto. My father didn't change the name of the company, it was Pasquale Brothers and it remained.
AP
Speaking of Italian Canadians, what was being of Italian background like growing up, when you were growing up in Toronto?
GM
Well there was discrimination. Being Italian Catholic was not the greatest. There's quotas at the university for Italian Catholics, or Italians. I didn't have any trouble. Perhaps my mother and father were very modern and they mixed with -- you know we had a lot of Jewish neighbors, all kinds of different experiences. We didn't live in a ghetto like a lot of them lived on College Street and so on. No, we had a big old Victorian house on Gore Vale Avenue facing Trinity Bellwoods Park. My father bought it in 1926 because at that time he owned a car, and a truck. And this huge mansion, I think 30 feet wide, had a three car garage. So never looked back and from there just bigger and larger and whatever.
AP
The house on Gore Vale, what was the neighborhood like? Who was--
GM
It was mixed, there was everything. Jewish neighbors, Polish neighbors, the original Bishop Strachan School was in the park. We used to watch cricket clubs playing and my older brother and his buddy, Teddy Roderman who is one of the most famous trombone players in Canada-- they built cricket bats for us and we played and so on.
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GM
There was always a bunch of kids playing. In the winter time, there was the outdoor skating rink. We'd skate after school.
AP
Before you guys moved to the house where did you live in the city?
GM
Oh, down in The Ward
Toronto's historic immigrant neighbourhood
, but I was 6 months old when we moved to Gore Vale. So I think I was born on Chestnut Street or, pretty sure it was Chestnut -- or Elm. Maybe Elm Street. I know that my father had a store at 110 Elm Street because I found a document of his. I've been going through papers and souvenirs lately and there was one mentioning 110 Elm. I don't know if that exist anymore.
AP
I'm on Elm Street every once in a while. I'm going to look for that address to see if there's anything -- or what. There's a lot of big buildings on Elm Street now so I wonder what's at 110.
GM
Well don't know. They talk a lot of both The Ward lately. And they talk about the slum. I don't remember it being a slum. I used to visit an aunt and uncle that lived at 16 Laplante. I think Laplante is still there, runs off of Gerrard. It was just a little house but it wasn't a slum, that's for sure. My grandmother lived on Hayter Street. It was just an old house but it wasn't a slum. So I get very annoyed when I hear people talking about The Ward as a slum. Where was it? not where I thought.
AP
I've heard the same thing mentioned -- people I know from India who say when people look at certain communities they say it's a slum. But the people living there would say “It's not a slum at all. This is our home.” So yeah it's interesting that you mention that in that context as well.
GM
I remember the two houses. In fact, we were living, this huge house on Gore Vale. My older sister had some disagreement with my parents and she packed her little suitcase and she was going to run away and live with her grandmother, ok? On Hayter Street. Now would she have gone there if it was a slum? I don't think so. She died in 1936 by the way.
AP
Sorry to hear that.
GM
Well, an old memory.
AP
How many siblings did you have?
GM
Well there were five originally but my sister died in 1936. My brother George died in 1925 when I came along the next year, they called me Georgina after he died of a pneumonia. My brothers died quite young, well I call it young. 63 and 68. Today's climate, it's young.
AP
Did the two brothers also work in the family business?
GM
Everybody works in the family business. I can remember my father always took inventory December 31st. You come home from work and bring all those little slips home. We'd sit around the dining room table and he'd give us little calculations to do. We were all absolutely bright in mathematics, where there'd be 15 cases of something at $3 a case, what was it? And we didn't have the electric adding machines, we didn't have computers at the time. But I remember that clearly.
AP
How did you guys get around the city. You said your father had a car but did you--
GM
Oh, the TTC
Toronto public transit company
. You asked what the community was like. The house on Gore Vale stretched a whole block. There is the house facing the park. Little bit of a garden then a 3 car garage on Bellwoods. I had friends on Bellwoods that I used to go to school with. And some of them were quite poor. I remember one family, the husband, at least the father was a presser at T. Eaton company. And they would be only able to afford a car -- they had a car, but they could only afford the license every two years. So they didn't have money. We used to go downtown. We'd walk down because they didn't have the money. And some kids they didn't have the $0.15 or $0.05 or whatever it was to do things. So I walked with them.
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GM
We walk down to Queen Street, along Queen. We would walk past the Cameron House. I don't know exactly where it is on the north side of Queen. And there would always be a couple of veterans from the First World War, standing there with crutches. A leg amputated or something.
AP
That's quite different from the Cameron House now which is sort of a venue for musicians.
GM
It's still there?
AP
It's still there. Cameron house is still there. I haven't been there in a couple of years but it is still there. But like I said it's quite -- now people know the Cameron House as a place where you go see interesting bands and such. That's a different Cameron house than you'd remember.
GM
I'm never inside it. We would just walk by and sort of divert our eyes and see the veterans. Now days I guess they would be fit with prosthesis.
AP
What was the intersection of Spadina and Queen like?
GM
Quiet. There was nothing there. Nothing of any particular -- what we use to, we had Jewish neighbors that I was quite close to. As I said my sister died when she was 16, I was only 10. And her girlfriend adopted me as little sister. And as I got a little older, Sunday night, they had this routine. They had a car and they would drive up to College Street and go for a walk along College Street. And I would be with them of course. And there was Koffler Drugs, the original Koffler, Murray Koffler's fathers drugstore. Tiny tiny little-- that was a treat to go out on Sunday evening for a walk on College Street. Another thing that I remember, I think it was Becker's. There was a delicatessen on College Street. We could walk up for a corned beef sandwich. I think it was $0.15. My father smoked Winchester cigarettes and there is a smoke shop at the corner of Bellwoods and Dundas and he'd give me a quarter to go get a package of Winchester cigarettes.
AP
College Street at that point would have been quite populated by Italians? Or still not yet?
GM
Not yet. There was quite a few but not a lot. There is only as I said 20 000. So there's a little bit on College, a little bit -- they are starting to move up to St. Clair, and some still downtown.
AP
Downtown in The Ward area?
GM
Yeah, well, downtown in The Ward area.
AP
What else do you remember from The Ward?
GM
Pause Well, the early -- I told you the two houses that I remember. There was old Angelo's Hotel. I think it was at Bay and Elm. Is that considered The Ward? I think so. Never went there at the time but one of my uncles was taking out the daughter of the owner laughs. They didn't marry but anyway. And Angelo's was there for a long time. And that was the place to go for an Italian meal. Of course we didn't eat out. That wasn't fashionable, yet.
AP
The Italians in Toronto at that time, where they mainly Southerners or --
GM
Oh sure, nobody would come from the north. The south was --they used to refer to it as La Miseria. Misery. No one would come from the north because they had jobs and so on. My father-in-law, they came from Calabria, right down south. He came in 1901. He left behind his widowed mother, his young bride with a small baby. And he came here. I think he's the bravest man I have ever met. Illiterate, came to Toronto, got a job at the City of Toronto Waterworks in I think 1905. Saved up enough money to bring the family here, and worked there for fifty years until he retired. He had his little retirement. I sent it along to one of my nephew who is doing some family stuff. But that was tough for them. Jobs -- they would have never have left if they could find work. My grandfather, my mother's father, they lived just outside of Rome. Poverty-stricken. He walked all the way to Rome looking for a job here and there.
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GM
I don't know where he got the money to come to Canada. And then my mother -- her mother and sister came --my mother came when she was four. And how did they ever get here with laughs -- I can't imagine.
AP
The Pasquale Brothers were also Calabrese?
GM
No, no. From just outside of Rome, Abruzzi.
AP
So both your mother's parents and father's parents we're from the Rome area?
GM
Yes. It was my husband's family that was from Southern Italy.
AP
So I guess you growing up would have been eating the cuisine of that part of Italy?
GM
My mother was a fabulous cook. She made everything. She learned some recipes from -- we had Romanian Jews living next door to us, some of their recipes. There're all sorts of things. And a friend of ours used to come once in a while and she said “ Your mother's a genius. With a couple of vegetables she can serve 10 people.” We were not hard done by. We always had.
AP
Your father was importing things straight from Italy, so I guess you guys had a steady supply of foodstuffs from Italy.
GM
Uh huh. pause Here's a funny story, but this goes up to say, 1980, 1981. I was on a trip with the Toronto Symphony. And one of the musicians, a woman, I think she played the harp. But I don't remember exactly, but I think it was the harp. She was from the 'States. Married an Italian from Toronto who also played in the symphony. And she told this story, “Georgina”, first summer she is here she talks to her mother-in-law and says “ Well I guess we better go down to the market and buy a couple of bushels of tomatoes so we can preserve them.” And mother-in-law said, “ Are you crazy? Just go down to Pasquale's and buy a case of tomatoes.” That was it. She told me that story laughs. And here at Bradgate Arms I mean there aren't too many young people here. As soon as I mention the name Pasquale, everyone says “Oh I remember going down to get the olives.” One fellow said he grew up on Treffan Court, I'm not even sure where that is. I think it is near Shuter Street. His mother used to put him in a wagon and bring them down to the store to shop. Another one who was living in Lawrence Park, “Oh I always went down to Pasquale's to shop.” So you know.
AP
So the clientele was--
GM
Everything.
AP
All sorts of backgrounds at the store?
GM
Uh huh. you might remember the name George Drew. He was the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in the '40s, I think. He married an Italian woman, Fiorenza Drew. And early --late 1940s, she used to pull up at the store with her chauffeur-driven car and come in and buy stuff. Lieutenant Governor's wife.
AP
How did your business change and how did the Italian community change when people started coming after the war in the various waves of Italian immigrants?
GM
The Immigrant started to come in, but before that, my father, my brother, my brother was older and doing things, started to expand out west. Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton all the way to Vancouver. Opened a branch in Montreal. So already we were bigger. We moved off of King Street. We left the store, but we moved up to Wingold
street further north in Toronto
. We had a 35000 square feet Warehouse. We were already packaging and so forth. And then that wasn't enough. We moved up to Keele Street, 8000 Keele Street. 100 000 square foot warehouse which is a pretty big warehouse. So we kept expanding. A lot of Italians were coming and from the 20,000 originally -- I don't know how many there are now. Who can count them? And everybody wants to be Italian. Everyone wants to cook Italian. They want to go to Italian restaurants.
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GM
Which was good. I can think of worse things.
AP
The warehouse on Keele, that would have been Keele and ?
GM
Number 7 Highway.
AP
Keele and 7.
GM
We bought 12 and a half acres there. We had the warehouse constructed -- this was our Centennial project. Started in '67, we move the May 24th weekend of 1968 and everybody was working. I had -- I was working at the time up there and I designed the office for the -- maybe they were 15 people in the office by the time. At least 15. The large office. Then the executive office was gorgeous, Rose wood paneling, my father, my brother, mine was a small little pause oh God I can't think of the name I want to use. Anyway, just a small little private room where you could have lunch, have meetings or whatever. And then my husband died in 1979 and I lost all interest in working. He was downtown on King Street and I was up at Keele Street. And then I started to have health problems and I thought that's it, pack it in after 41 years.
AP
Keele and 7 in the late '60s would have been quite a barren landscape.
GM
It was country. It was-- we had a farm that was expropriated for the marshalling yards. We had gone into thoroughbred horse racing and we had a hundred acre farm and it was expropriated. So we bought 150 acres off of Dufferin Street and then that all started to develop.
AP
Yeah when I now think of Highway 7, there's definitely a pretty sizable Italian presence up that way.
GM
Well there wasn't at the time.
AP
Not then, yeah, no its--
GM
Back in the '60s it was nothing. Farms.
AP
So when you were working there in the family business, were there a lot of female employees?
GM
No.
AP
Mostly males?
GM
Mostly males. There were maybe pause two others. Oh and then Kyo. But when I started I was the only female employee. Then there was one of my aunts, took a job there. And so I was pampered and spoiled. One of the fellows that worked there would always go out and buy me a chocolate bar. burnt almond, I'll never forget. One of the salesman, my father would tell him, “Johnny, go take Georgina over for a malted milk or a milkshake.” No, I was pampered. But here's a really funny story. Do you want funny stories?
AP
Sure, yeah.
GM
Of King Street? My father bought me my first fur coat when I was 19. It was a beaver coat. I was tall and slim. And we used to go out for lunch every day from King Street. We'd walk over to sometimes Yonge Street, sometimes just on King Street. My husband was already working at the -- I wasn't married yet. Only 19,20. Some customer comes in and says to my husband, “Henry, you should see the girlfriend Mister Pasquale has. I saw her walking along, this beautiful--” laughter. My husband starts laughing and says “daughter”, because we always linked arms when we were walking. And when he bought me the coat he said, “ This is the last fur coat that I buy you. After this your husband has to buy you fur coats.”
AP
This just came to mind. Your father, uncles and family, were they wine drinkers?
GM
My father once made wine, only once. He never made it again. Wasn't a wine drinker. Everybody drank hard liquor in those days. I didn't drink at all but, I mean Seagram's was a big, big name at the time. My uncle Enrico, he was a real connoisseur of food and so on. He might have been a wine drinker.
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AP
Because I remember as a kid a lot of the Italians that I knew through school and such, they would always be making homemade wine. But that's not something you grew up with.
GM
No, no. No Italian. My mother and father spoke English all the time. Never spoke Italian. And then they decided that my older brother should learn to speak Italian. And they got him this tutor, Mr. Manzo. I'll never forget, he to come to the house I don't know once or twice a week. And I think my brother was in grade 8 or 9 and he failed because he was so busy with the Italian. And he spoke a good Italian. I didn't speak any Italian. I understood a few words so I decided when I was maybe 19, 20, going to learn Italian. And had this wonderful teacher Dedina Morelli. I'll never forget her. She was a vocal coach for would be opera singers, and it was down on McPherson Avenue. And I go in for my lesson and walk in and all this glorious music, the scales and so on. But I gave up. I had no flair for languages. Fast forward another thirty years or forty years, I'm going to learn Italian. Wonderful teacher who grew up in Florence. But I found it very difficult. I can get by if I'm in Italy and so on, but not great Italian. I can read, I know a lot of vocabulary and so on. But as I said, we always spoke English.
AP
You've been to Italy many times?
GM
Enough times. Six maybe. I went on business trips with my husband. The first time was 1957. We went for a whole month. Started off in Northern Italy, went all the way down to Sicily seeing customers, not customers, suppliers. Suppliers of tomato paste, suppliers of provolone, suppliers of parmigiano, olive oil, different cheeses all the way to Sicily. Gone the whole month. We left the four children and I was the first time I was going to be away from the children, the three children, there were only three at the time. I'd been away from them for a long time. I cried all the way from Toronto to New York. So my husband said, “ Okay we will cancel the trip.” We'll send telegrams. But I stop crying and it was quite the trip. And we had tickets to go to the Vatican for -- we were there for Easter and we still send some money to an orphanage in Rome. And I guess when they translated the Canadian Dollars into Italian Lira, it was a lot of money. And they thought maybe we were royalty and they deliver these gorgeous invitations stamped from the Vatican. And we had choice places in St. Peters. No, some interesting, interesting-- When we went back the second time we had an audience -- well it wasn't a private audience there was a couple of hundred people there. And the Secretary of State had sent his secretary to pick us up and bring us. And he told us, “ When you get there there's going to be a lot of people in front of you. Don't be shy, push yourself forward, keep pushing, pushing until you're in the front row.” So I did exactly what she said and the Pope stopped and he asked me “ Where are you from?” I said “Canada” and he said “ Would you like to speak English or French?” without batting an eyelash. And I said “English” and I don't know he said two words. I don't know what he said to me and then I became a celebrity. Everybody came over, “What did he say? what did he say?” And the Secretary of State, Domenica Tardini, who had been sending the Christmas and Easter money to invited us to his private apartment. I wasn't old enough to appreciate what it was at the time. But it was fascinating.
AP
So you enjoyed your trips to Italy.
GM
Well, the business part was tough. My husband was fluent in Italian, but I had to struggle with the language and it was a busy schedule. And you didn't have washing ware like you have now. The laundry was a huge problem. My husband's shirts and so on. And for a month I had four huge suitcases.
00:45:05.000
00:45:05.000
GM
You did not have wash and wear. I'm going back to 1957. And gifts for this one and that one and the other one .
AP
Italy in 1957, would there still be any sort of scars of the war left?
GM
In Palermo particularly I remember they were buildings that had huge holes on the outside and those were from the bombs that had hit and so on. The hotels, there weren't that many hotels for the tourists and so on. And if you wanted heat in your room you had to pay extra. That I remember. But the food was fine. We had some relatives that we visited. My mother had been sending parcels by the year. And my older brother had made the first trip to Italy in 1950. That was really right after the war. When he came back we said “ What's Italy like?” None of us had ever been. He said “Organized confusion.” laughs And he had the movie camera and he took pictures of cousins and so on. And there were my two cousins, younger than me both wearing suits, old suits, that my mother had sent in parcels. She used to send sugar, coffee, close, fabric. So it was tough for them after the war.
AP
You're going to have to pardon me for using a stereotype, but this is a bit of my personal interest creeping in. Did you -- the Italians that I grew up with, we always had a great bond of talking about soccer. Is that something that was a part of your life in any capacity?
GM
laughs The first soccer game that I saw was in 1974. With my husband, we had come on a business trip. We had been in Copenhagen and it had been as cold as anything when we were there. We'd been in Romania, it was cold. And the Communists were still there and our room was bugged. We'd had a terrible, terrible -- I mean, I shouldn't say terrible. It was stressful. So our last stop was Madrid and then we were coming home. We get to Madrid and we checked into -- I'll never forget the Euro Hotel. And the first thing we always asked was, “Where is the closest Catholic Church?” And they gave us directions. It wasn't that far. So it was a nice warm sunny day, afternoon. We could walk down to the church. We come out of the church and there are throngs of people walking. My husband said “ Where's everybody going?” I said, “ I have no idea. Let's follow them.” They were going to the soccer stadium. We had never seen a soccer game. This is 1974. It was a Real Madrid. My husband got two tickets in the front row. I was fascinated. It was a difficult game to play. So now I follow soccer when there's a big tournament. But no, soccer was not big in 1974 I'll tell you.
AP
That's quite the game to go to, one of the great teams of the world, in the history of the game.
GM
It can only go down from there.
AP
Yes exactly.
GM
We didn't stay for the whole game. I thought, how can these guys run up and down the pitch? That was fascinating.
AP
I would like to ask about Kyoko again. When you met her and got to know her, did she talk much about her time in the camp or her parents' experience?
GM
The only thing that she talked about was when they had the knock on the door and they had to pack a suitcase and leave. They had to leave the house. They had a piano and she hated leaving the piano. And she didn't talk about her other experiences and I didn't press her. Maybe I should have, but you know. And I think she had a fairly decent lifestyle growing up. Her mother was a flower arranger. Can't remember what her father did. But they had a house and a piano so--
AP
Do you know where she lived prior to leaving? in Vancouver?
GM
In Vancouver, that's where she was.
AP
Did she ever mention which internment site she was sent to?
GM
If she did I don't remember. Listen that is 70 years ago.
00:50:02.000
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GM
A friend of mine wrote a little note here. pause, reads He thought the Japanese camps were old mining camps or ghost towns. By the Autumn of 1942 eventually these people dispersed themselves across Canada. Of course rice being a staple of most Japanese, we needed it immediately. But they weren't released in 1942.
AP
Some of them moved at that time.
GM
As long as they moved East, I guess it was.
AP
So she mentioned the piano --
GM
The piano was the only thing she mentioned. And the house.
AP
Both were gone. They never got that back?
GM
Oh she did receive the $19,000, ok? You know what she did with it? Took a trip to Japan. She had never been.
AP
Did should talk about that trip much?
GM
She loved it. Alex: Did she mention where she went?
GM
She did a lot of travel. Of course I didn't see her as often by the time she got the $19,000. I wasn't working anymore.
AP
And she came to Toronto with her parents?
GM
Oh she was 30 when I met her. I don't even think her parents were still alive when she was 30. pause Maybe yes, maybe no. Didn't mention them particularly that I remember.
AP
She worked as--
GM
Secretary. but she was good. And she stayed with us as I said. Reliable, self starter.
AP
So she would have been one of the few females working there and the only Japanese Canadian?
GM
Oh yeah, the only Japanese. By the time she was hired, there are maybe four females. So she made five, I was six.
AP
That's very interesting.
GM
She was very cheerful, always cheerful. I'm sure she had issues, but she never brought them to work.
AP
What else do you remember of her if anything?
GM
Well I think she inherited some of her mother's skills. I used to do a lot of entertainment. And I would give her bowls and she would do a flower arrangement for me, instead of me going to a florist. Which was good. And she decided one day, I don't know what year it was, she was going to cook a treat for us. Make some seaweed. Oh dear. None of us could eat it. I don't know what -- tasted like or the aroma. That was not a happy time laughs, the seaweed. I don't know what seaweed is supposed to taste like. That was the one and only time. When her husband died, I think the service was at the Japan Cultural Center. I'm sure you know it. And they were sharing -- quite a few people spoke. All men. All of them talked about Joe her husband. Nobody said anything about Kyo. I was sitting there and I was thinking I can't let this go by. I put my hand up and I had to go and say a few words about her. And I did. and she came over and thanked me. And when she died, I was there, and again I had to say a few words. And Carol
Kyo's daughter
came over and thanked me. No she was a good friend. And a nice lady. She was tiny.
AP
Do you know where she lived in the city?
GM
Eventually they had a house up in Downsview
neighbourhood of Toronto
. pause Maybe in the middle of the night the name of the street will come to me.
AP
I'm curious to know, how did she come across the job with you guys? Was there a posting that she responded to?
00:55:04.000
00:55:04.000
GM
No, no, no. My father spoke to so many of the Japanese people that came in for the rice ration. Like he had personality and so on. And he said I think we need someone to help. And whoever it was recommended Kyoko and she came. And the interview, there was no doubt.
AP
Did the rice business taper off in the years following the war? Or did you guys--
GM
No we always sold rice.
AP
Did you continue to have Japanese Canadian customers?
GM
Sure, maybe not as many. Because then you could get rice at a corner store. You didn't have to come down to King Street. Same way that in the early years of the store, if you wanted olives and Parmesan and stuff like that you had to come down to the store. I mean Loblaws didn't carry it or Dominion stores.
AP
That rice that you were selling initially, was that coming -- do you know where was being imported from?
GM
I think it was American, but I wouldn't swear to it.
AP
I think I have kept you for a long enough.
GM
I'm all talked out. The only thing that I can give you, I can show you the two--
AP
Sure. Georgina takes out photos and letters to show Alex. So this letter is from '41.
GM
They are both from '41, but one is from June and one is from December.
AP
Wow, this is amazing.
GM
It's from my father's papers and I had boxes of stuff I saved.
AP
Was this the oldest brother writing to your father?
GM
No, the oldest brother only stayed one year .
AP
He addressed it to the store address. Prisoner of War Mail
as indicated on the letter
.
GM
And some of it is censored.
AP
Well, being a prisoner of war, they were gracious enough to let them mail stuff for free. Pause. Georgina writes on some photos. So your father spoke English but he obviously could read this in Italian with no issue.
GM
Now the uncle that wrote that had limited schooling. And he was living in Montreal, mixing with different people. They would laugh at his Italian. He said, “Nobody is going to laugh at Enrico Pasquale.” And he taught himself with the newspaper or the radio or whatever. He spoke the most beautiful French, English and Italian.
AP
So he had a good knack for languages then.
GM
Oh he did laughs. And all his children did. Three languages in one sentence.
AP
Are those -- is that branch of the family still in the Montreal area?
GM
They are all dead. Cousins and -- well there is one cousin still alive but she has Alzheimer's and so on. There's a couple of the younger generation. a handful. Where is here we had a fair-sized family.
AP
So the Pasquale presence is more in the Toronto area now?
GM
Uh huh. Now, my uncle who wrote those letters, he was very, very successful. He made a lot of money in the '20s in the stock market and so on. He used to go to New York for business for the cigars. And later on I found out through my New York cousin whom I didn't need until years later, she would go with him and he would go to one of the Saks Fifth Avenue, whatever it was, and have the models show dresses so he could buy something for Auntie Dell to bring it home. She was always beautifully dressed. Spent a lot of money. Then the stock market crashed, then the war, and it was never the same lifestyle for him.
AP
You have some pictures there.
GM
These are for you, you can take them. I sort of wrote on the side.
AP
Oh thank you.
01:00:01.000
01:00:01.000
AP
███████So, if you'd like I can shut the recorder off.
GM
Or you wouldn't want me to say anything else. What else could I tell you?
AP
It's entirely up to you.
GM
What do you want to know?
AP
laughs We already talked about The Ward. Where did you go to school in Toronto, prior to leaving?
GM
Grade school I went to Charles G. Fraser. It's on Robinson and Manning or Clermont, one of them. And they had a school reunion about 20 years ago or whatever it was. And I remember the staircase being so large and the school so large. Someone called me and said there's going to be a reunion so I went. Oh, everything was so small. But I remember it being kindergarten and skipping around. When I was in grade 7 -- tells you how responsible I was -- the teacher, grade 7, used to give me her deposit to bring down to the bank at Queen and Bathurst. Deposit the check and bring back the -- Grade 7. And then she asked me to come in and help the kids that were slow learners or whatever, which I did. Then I went to Central High School of Commerce and -- there was a resident here, I went to high school with her brother Alfie. Anyway, then we move to Forest Hill and I transferred to Forest Hill Collegiate. And I was bored out of my mind, I was this bright student, wanted out of school. So I dropped out of school, November 15th, when I was 16 years old.
AP
What did your parents say about dropping out of school?
GM
Fine, come to work. Yeah, no big deal. laughs
AP
So I will shut this off then.
01:03:19.000

Metadata

Title

Goergina Maddott, interviewed by Alexander Pekic, 14 December 2016

Abstract

Georgina talks about her family's migration to Canada from Italy and the establishment of their family food import business, Pasquale Brothers, and their eventual growth. She then talks about memories of Toronto growing up, her family and travels. Georgina also talks about her employee and friend Kyoko, a Japanese Canadian, and what she knew of Kyoko's life.

Credits

Interviewer: Alexander Pekic
Interviewee: Georgina Maddott
XML Encoder: Stewart Arneil
Publication Information: See Terms of Use for publication and licensing information.
Setting: Georgina Maddott's home, Toronto, ON
Keywords: Toronto ; Italy; Italian(s); food; Pasquale Brothers; business; The Ward; Japanese; women; Friendship; 1900s-present

Terminology

Readers of these historical materials will encounter derogatory references to Japanese Canadians and euphemisms used to obscure the intent and impacts of the internment and dispossession. While these are important realities of the history, the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective urges users to carefully consider their own terminological choices in writing and speaking about this topic today as we confront past injustice. See our statement on terminology, and related sources here.