A Greeting as a result of the Mafia and the 1918 Armistice

Discussion in 'User Introductions' started by ecalpald, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. ecalpald

    ecalpald Chick LaPlace

    I am blessed with possessing my Dad’s war diary, photos and red cross arm-band & documents. Before I continue to introduce myself and my deceased Father, I need to tell a short story. This will set the stage for his WW2 years and my present-day plans within this forum.

    Family lore relates that in the early 1900’s three brothers fled the Sicilian mafia to America. They would settle apart in British Columbia, Alberta (my Grandfather) and New Jersey. The reason for their departure is supported by the following translated excerpts from a 1925 letter written by a Sicilian lawyer to the brother who resided in British Columbia:

    “Your bad neighbour has been arrested. The new Prime Minister Mussolini and the Prefect of the Province, are taking energetic measures to arrest numerous criminals who were a continuous danger in our land.”

    “As I told you in my last letter your neighbour Spitale Giuseppe has been arrested with other people who were very close to him. Other people have been charged with many crimes for the death of your mother and brother.” (my Great-Grandmother & Great-Uncle)

    My Grandfather, Nunzio LaPlaca, would marry an Irish woman who was sponsored to Canada by the Salvation Army. My Dad would be born on Armistice Day, 11 November 1918, in Calgary and would be named “Charles Peace LaPlaca”. He was never known as “Charles” or “Charlie”, in adult life, as far as I know. Everyone called him “Chick”.

    Chick and his siblings would be raised in the coal mining district of Southern Alberta, the “Crowsnest Pass”. Chick would be employed at West Canadian Collieries in Bellevue, Alberta. Here he would continue to advance his Saint John First Aid & mine rescue qualifications. This skill set, likely was a factor in his trade assignment and posting to the Canadian Field Ambulance R.C.A.M.C. as a stretcher bearer.

    When WW2 broke out, Chick and two of his brothers abided to their Irish mother’s demand that they use a different name to enlist under. She was fearful that if they were captured, by the Italians, that they might be treated harshly because of their Sicilian surname.

    As a result, they enlisted under the name “LaPlace”, a perfect name for a Canadian. After the war all three brothers continued to use this surname. Their elder brother, who did not serve, retained the original surname “LaPlaca”. In 1968 the Canadian Government finally caught on to this name deception and Chick, my mom, myself and my three siblings were required to legally change from LaPlaca to LaPlace.

    In late 2017 I decided to honor the 100th anniversary of my Father’s birth by researching his service records and matching them to his diary entries in order to put together a document and have it ready for the family on 11 November, 2018. Unfortunately, the Canadian Library & Archives were unable to meet this deadline and I did not receive his service records until after. A doc has yet to be written.

    Since 2017 I have often referred to this web site to provide me with info, techniques, leads and ideas. It is now time that I commence participating and repaying with the jewels of my research. Special thanks to member TOLBOOTH who recently shared some back-channel info with me & hint-hint-nudge-nudged me into posting an Introduction to this forum. Further postings to commence shortly.
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Welcome to the forum
    I had seen you lurking around now & again.
  3. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Welcome to the forum
  4. Tolbooth

    Tolbooth Patron Patron

    Welcome Don.
    Now you're here, you'll never leave!
  5. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Welcome to the forum.

    I also had relatives (long lost until 2012 when I traced them with help from forum member Alieneyes) living in the Crows Nest Pass and working in the coal mines there - initially at Coal Creek, Fernie BC and latterly in Michel BC. From the Census and Voters Lists I recognise many Italian families also lived and worked there.

    William (Bill) Fowler RCAF 263 Squadron RAF (Typhoon) 1944/45

    My mother’s cousin Bill Fowler (1921/86) from Michel, British Columbia served as a Pilot in RCAF and was attached to 263 (Typhoon) Squadron RAF in Europe during 1944/45. He married and settled in Calgary after 1945.

    He features on the Mural of Honour in the Military Museum in Calgary. His image is #209 - towards the middle of the next to bottom row - immediately beside the A in the superimposed CANADA shoulder title in the interactive (on a desktop PC/ laptop only) image shown in the below link. I visited the Museum in September 2013 when I visited my relatives in Calgary.

    The Military Museums - Mural of Honour

    Bill Fowler’s daughter took my wife and I on a road trip from Calgary to Fernie to see where my great aunt’s lived when they arrived in Canada. What a beautiful place:salut:

    You probably know that Michel is one of the many old mining “ghost towns” in the Crows Nest Pass area.There is no longer any trace of the old buildings as the inhabitants (Michel, Natal & Middletown) were relocated to nearby Sparwood “new town” in the late 1960’s when it was feared that the nearby coal spoil heap might collapse and destroy the town (similar to U.K. 1966 Aberfan, Wales disaster).

    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
    Tolbooth and Owen like this.
  6. ecalpald

    ecalpald Chick LaPlace

    Hi Steve
    Thanks for the note. Sorry for the lateness, as I just discovered that I can reply to postings such as yours. The home town of my Dad's family, Bellevue, is at the foot of the Frank slide. I'm sure that you remember that vista. The mine that he worked in now conducts tours through it. The locals just call the "Crowsnest Pass" the "Pass". Pre-war times, the "Pass" was a melting pot of immigrants from all over the world. The foothills & mountains in Southern Alberta are world class scenery. Did you know that the "Duke of Wales" bought a ranch East of Calgary? (1930's I think)
    Take care, I'm sure we will cross paths again on this site.

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