Trail B.C.'s Italian community celebrates decades of memories through photo project
Fred Romano has been collecting family photos in the hopes of preserving the town's heritage
You might not think that Italy and Trail, B.C. have much in common, but the small town actually boasts a massive Italian population.
Now, one man is working to preserve that community's history, one photo at a time.
Fred Romano, chair of the archives and cultural committee at Trail's Colombo Lodge, has been collecting family photos for three years now and posting them on public platforms like YouTube and Facebook.
"It's just to make sure that we get the stuff that's in the archives out to the public, the pictures of days gone by," Romano said.
He's also working on a map of the city that will document where old families used to live.
It's set to be displayed outside the Colombo Lodge in the spring.
Romano said the lodge now has 40 honorary members, who are over 85 years old. Some of the photos he's collected show them back in their teenage years.
Romano said the town's Italian community exploded in the 1940s and 1950s when dozens of families in Canada headed west in search of work.
"When you came to Trail, the scenery and the mountainside and the homes on the mountainsides attracted the Italians to settle here," he said.
"There was opportunity here."
He said that nearly 20 per cent of the community have some Italian heritage. Trail has a population of nearly 8,000.
The lodge was founded in 1905, and acted as a "benevolent society" that supported families as they moved into town.
In its golden years, it boasted between 800 and 900 members, and frequently hosted social functions like banquets, picnics, wine-tasting events and bocce ball tournaments.
Now, the membership is down to around 350 people, but the society continues to host events celebrating Italian food, music and games.
Romano, who arrived to Canada with his mother in 1952 and settled in the area around Trail's Rossland Avenue, said his efforts to preserve and display the photos are worth it when he sees younger people react to the old pictures.
"They see their family, they see their mothers and dads when they were young," he said.
"Some people didn't even know what their grandfather looked like and when they see a picture of him as a young man, they love it."