Filipo Menecola along with his eldest son Nicola were among the second group of about 30 men led by Dr. Cardo that left Roseto Valfotore in March 1883 traveling by train to Naples. There they boarded the Anchor Lines steamer Brittania bound for New York, arriving at the port of New York on April 23rd, 1883. Dr. Cardo secured employment for the group as laborers in Amsterdam, New York likely on the construction of the West Shore Railroad which was completed by early June, 1883.
In July 1883 the group found employment in the area of Peterborough, Ontario near Indian River working as laborers for the Canadian Pacific Railway which was then constructing their rail line from Peterborough to Perth. After a short six months winter came, their jobs ended and the group disbanded. They failed to repay Dr. Cardo who returned to Italy feeling deserted and embittered. Some of the group then joined their fellow Rosetans already working in the slate mines of Bangor, Pennsylvania: Lorenzo Pacifico, Algelo Maria Castellucci, Domenico Stefano Ruggiero, Nicola Falcone, Nicola Cacciacarro, Nicolangelo and Lorenzo D’Uva and Nicola Rosato. In 1887 Nicola Rosato built the first home in the new settlement close to Bangor, PA that they called New Italy. It was later renamed Roseto after their home town back in Italy.
The Minicola family may have spent some time in Pennsylvannia as well and likely also worked in the area of Peterborough, Ontario in 1884 and 1885. Jobs were plentiful in the area with numerous railway projects and the building of the Trent Severn canal system. They ended up eventually settling in Peterborough, Ontario and the rest of the family was brought over from Italy in 1886. Mother Lucia (Ronca) and the rest of the children: Marguerite, Rosaria, Leonardo, Donato, Maria and Pasqualina arrived in New York on September 16th, 1886. Also listed on the manifest is the oldest son Nicola Menecola who must have made the long trip back to Italy to help settle the family’s affairs and to accompany the rest of the family to Canada. They traveled on the Brittania, the same ship as 3 years earlier. Mother Lucia and the rest of the children are listed with the last name Ronca. It was customary at the time to use the mother’s maiden name in ship manifests.
The earliest listing for the Minicola family in Peterborough is in the 1888 Peterborough Directory showing ‘Philip Minigold’, laborer living at 67 Elm St. The writers of directory must have had problems understanding his thick Italian accent. For a brief period of time before this they may have also lived in Trenton, Belleville and Cornwall, Ontario. The majority of these early years in Canada were likely spent in the Peterborough area working as laborers.
The 1891 census of Canada lists the family as living in Peterborough, probably at 67 Elm although the address is not listed in the records. The records show Philipho 49, Lucie 45, Edward 14, Thomas 13, Mary 10, Norrie 8, Joseph 3, Nicolas 27, Matilda 23 and three Lodgers including Cipriano and Filomena DeFranco. Cipriano DeFraco had traveled from Roseto Valfortore with the Minicolas in April of 1883. As for what they were doing at the time – Filippo and Nicola are listed as General Laborers and young Edward (Leonardo) is listed as a Water boy. Edward, Thomas, Mary and Norrie are listed as being able to read and write. It appears they were able to attend school during these early years allowing them to learn to read and write in English. Note the names that were changed: Leonardo is listed as Edward, Donato is listed as Thomas and Pasqualina is listed as Norrie. Pasqualina was later known as Nora. The two older girls – Margerita and Rosaria are not listed as they had both married and moved away by this time. Margerita had married Donato Sabatino and was living in Lakefield. Rosaria had married Antonio Vecchio and was living in Toronto.
The family was renting the house at 67 Elm up until 1894. According to Peterborough city land records Filippo was finally able to purchase the house in 1894 from George A. Cox for the sum of $1000. In later years the houses on the street were renumbered and 67 Elm became 519 Elm. After 1955 the street name was changed to Hopkins Avenue. The old family homestead is still there at 519 Hopkins, the red brick covered in white aluminum siding. The home was converted into apartments years ago and is no longer owned by the family
Filippo Menecola is listed as owner and grocer at 519 Elm until 1901. In the 1901 Canadian census he is listed as living at a property in North Monaghan (later Erskine Ave) and his occupation is listed as a farmer. By 1911 Leonardo Minicola and his family are listed at the Erskine ave property in North Monaghan. That same year the census lists Philip Manicola working as a labourer at ‘Stone Mill’ in Trenton, Ontario (Hastings West) . So it was some time between 1901 and 1911 that Filippo had returned to the Trenton/Belleville area to find work. Lucia Ronca stayed in Peterborough and was known as the strong matriarch of the family. She then ran the grocery store at 67 Elm Street. The large home was also used as a boarding house for newly arrived Italian immigrants.
Lucia Minicola is listed at 67 Elm St. in the Peterborough directories from 1901 to 1915. Both the 1901 census and the 1911 census list Lucia or Lucy Minicola as grocer at either 67 or 519 Elm St. She passed away on March 17th, 1915. Note that before 1908 the address is 67 Elm St. In 1908 the street is renumbered and the house number changes to 519 Elm St, it is the same house though. Filippo returned to Peterborough and lived out his later years at the House of Providence home for the aged. It was located at the site of St. Joseph’s hospital on Rogers Street in East City. He passed away on March 2nd, 1923 at the home of his son Donato (my great grandfather).