The Birth of the Società Caruso
The idea of forming and Italian association in the City of Sudbury had always been a dream of Luigi Battaino and Antonio Buttazzoni. After much discussion with members of the community, on May 18, 1947 the notion of forming an Italian society in the city of Sudbury was discussed at a meeting held at the Ryan Community Club on Albinson St. In the minutes of this first meeting, which was chaired by Enzo Mariotti, one notes the urgent necessity for the Italians to organize themselves since the Italians in outlying areas of the region had already done so. Everyone present was in agreement and Beniamino Scagnetti was appointed President, Luigi Favot became Vice-President and Giuseppe “Joe” D’Aloisio was given the task of Treasurer. In the minutes of the May 28, 1947 meeting of the appointed executive held at 26 Frood Rd. we discover that the proposed initial name for the newly formed association was “Fratellanza Italiana di Sudbury” (The Italian Brotherhood of Sudbury) and that a schedule of fund-raising events had already been organized by the executive. The number of members to this point was 76. At the August 17, 1947 meeting of the General Assembly formal nominations for the offices of the Board of Directors took place. The members present also voted to purchase five lots situated at Whittaker and Haig Streets.
Elections were held later on that summer with the following results: Pacifico Lasci was elected as President, Eugenio Mazzuchin as Vice-President, Joe D’Aloisio as Treasurer, Mario Blasutti as Recording Secretary, Bruno Lenarduzzi as Financial Secretary, Pietro Blasutti, Emilio De Simone, Luigi Toppazzini, Valentino Parisotto, Lino Tomini, Pasquale Carbone, Luigi Pin, Giovanni Turchetto as Directors, Luigi Battaino and Giovanni Tallevi as auditors, Luigi Favot and Elio Moro as Flag Bearers and Giovanni Clemente Colombo as speaker.
At the General Assembly meeting of October 12, 1947 the members were informed that the name of the Club “Fratellanza Italiana di Sudbury” had not be approved by the provincial registry office responsible for the registration of the association. Since time was of the essence, the newly elected Board of Directors proposed the name of “Società Caruso”, to honour the famous Italian singer Enrico Caruso, which was eventually approved and incorporated on November 21, 1947, and the new building was completed in late 1948. The original building contained the Heritage Hall with a mezzanine and bar and a kitchen.
The objective of the Società, a non-profit organization, as delineated in the Constitution that was revised and approved on January 9, 2000 include the following: to promote, enhance and preserve Italian culture and heritage within the Canadian Multicultural Mosaic; to render assistance to persons of Italian nationality in need; to establish and maintain a library and archives of Italian heritage. Many of the events that took place during the early years are still held today in more contemporary versions.
The Società Caruso building has undergone a series of renovations over the course of the years in order to meet the demands of a growing community and a blossoming business. In 1966 under the direction of the President of the day, Gino Pollesel, the Società embarked on its largest project -- the addition of a second level. The expansion was to represent the Italian contribution to the city’s centennial celebrations. As the executive feverishly canvassed members and their families for financial support, Louis Fabbro drew up the plans of what is now the present structure of the Società Caruso. The interior was complete by June 13, 1967 and the opening ceremonies took place on June 17, 1967. The renovation saw the opening of the Upper Hall that can accommodate up to 800 people along with the stage and bar plus kitchen facilities. The following year saw the opening of the Cordial Lounge and the renovation of recreation facilities in the lower area. 1980 marked another large expansion that saw the renovation and modernization of the kitchen facilities and the construction of five indoor bocce courts. In August, 1993 the Società saw its more recent renovation with the transformation of the Cordial Lounge and recreation facilities into what is now the Enrico Restaurant, the Member’s Lounge and the Boardroom. In 2011 the Società embarked on yet another renovation. This time the traffic between the Member’s Lounge and the Enrico Restaurant was made much for fluid with the complete reconstruction of the main bar on the lower level. It was also during this time that the Board felt it was time to name what was referred to as the “Upper Hall”. The Publicity and Public Relations Chair, John Ongaro, launched a competition among members to find an appropriate name. After studying over 65 submissions, it was decided to name the “Upper Hall” the “Sala da Vinci”.
The Società is among the largest Italian associations in the province of Ontario and it belongs exclusively to its members. It is an association that has undertaken various activities to promote its Italian heritage. In 1972 the Società embarked on its single largest event of the year that brings together practically all the subcommittees of the Board of Directors under one banner: the Italian Festival. During the four-day weekend event the City of Sudbury has the opportunity to participate in a variety of events and/or presentations. Many sporting events have taken place over the years during the Festival: cycling races, soccer and bocce tournaments, boxing and wrestling matches. Another event that takes place during the duration of the Italian Festival is the Miss Caruso Pageant. Italian culture is in the forefront during the “Festival Stars Variety Show”. One word that is synonymous with Italian culture is food and much of it is seen at the Italian Festival in a variety of presentations. A popular event as of late is the Regional Food Fair, and the Italian regions that have been most represented include Calabria, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Marche, and Veneto.
Other activities that the Society organizes during the year include the annual Membership Banquet which takes place in March of every year. In the summer the Società holds its annual picnic at Richard Lake for members and their families and friends. The first picnic was held in 1947 and it represents an annual event to which many look forward. In the last few years the Società has endeavoured to collaborate with other local Italian associations and has held the annual picnic in conjunction with the Associazione Veneta, the Fogolâr Furlan Club of Sudbury, the Calabria Social Club and the Associazione Regionale Marchigiana. The Anniversary banquet takes place in November of every year and celebrates the official incorporation of the Società. It is at this event that the Ladies’ Auxiliary makes its annual financial contribution to the association, the Società scholarships are distributed to children of members who are pursuing higher education at college or university and members who are celebrating their golden anniversary as members of the club are also honoured. The month of December marks the organization of the annual Christmas party for children of members and on December 31st both halls in the building are filled with people celebrating the New Year.
The Società, under the direction of the Culture and Education committee, has the mandate to organize a number of activities during the course of the year. In the past the club sponsored both junior and senior bands under the leadership of Oliver and Victor Comisso, and it continues to support a very active Coro Caruso and a Children’s Choir. The association also sponsored cultural nights in the past in which variety shows were organized under the direction of Mauro Ventura, Emidio Rusciolelli and Liliana Santoro. Special recollections are held for Bruna Antinori who was known for the theatrical presentations that she mounted -- particularly the shows dedicated to the “Musica Arabita”, typical of the Marche region of Italy. The association also sponsored Saturday morning Italian classes to children interested in learning Italian.
Sporting events are also very popular with the members of the Società. Tournaments of all types are organized on a regular basis. Among these we find: a 10-pin bowling league; a men’s, women’s, mixed, “Raffa” and “48" bocce tournament along with the “North, Centre, South” competition that sees men from different regions of Italy playing against one another; a curling league that is held at the facilities in Copper Cliff; an annual golf tournament that takes place in July; the “Società Caruso International Soccer Tournament” that sees teams from all over Ontario come to the Sudbury to compete; not to mention the variety of teams (baseball and soccer) that the Società sponsors at both the recreational and competitive levels for children and adults. The club has also sponsored a team in the annual Dragon Boat races held in July of every year.
In 1992 the Società Caruso took an historical decision to give women the opportunity to be registered as regular members and stand for any position on the Board of Directors. In fact, the first woman in the history of the Società to have been elected for a position on the Board was, quite fittingly, Dolores (Battaino) Dini, the daughter of Luigi Battaino, a member of the founding Board. The Società took a further historical step when in January 1, 2011 the first female president (Diana Colilli) was elected.
The Società Caruso has always sought to act for the good of the local Italian community and it is still the point of reference for the Italian immigrants, their children and grandchildren in the City of Sudbury.
In this spirit, the Società Caruso is also the home to the offices of the Patronato ACLI pension office and the Vice Consulate of Italy.
The Patronato ACLI Pension representative, Giovanni Cimino, offers Italian pension services which include: Early Retirement, Old Age, Disability, Survivor’s and War benefits pensions, as well as Requests for Contributory Periods, Life Certificates, Pension Transfers and Signature/Documentation Legalization.
Canadian services include: Old Age Security Pension, CPP Retirement benefit, CPP Disability Benefit, CPP Survivor's Benefit, CPP Death Benefit, Child Rearing Dropout Provision, Request for contributory periods, plus other benefits. Assistance with benefits from other countries is also available. The Canadian and Italian governments have signed social conventions with various countries allowing workers who have worked in these countries to apply for and claim benefits from the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, England, Luxemburg, Netherlands, United States, Switzerland, Venezuela etc. The Patronato ACLI Pension office is opened every Monday from 2:30-5:30 p.m. For further information call 705.669.0397.
The Italian Vice Consular office hours are on Fridays from 9:00 am to 12:00 p.m. for anyone seeking Italian citizenship, needing an Italian passport, a visa, or anything else regarding Italy (pensions excluded). For further information please call 705.822.5810.