Douglas & McIntyre
Whoever Gives Us Bread

Book details:

May 2011
ISBN 978-1-55365-607-4
5" x 8"
368 pages
16 b&w photographs
$32.95 CAD


  • "Whoever Gives Us Bread" has won the 2012 F.G. Bressani Literary Prize for Creative Nonfiction

Douglas & McIntyre

Whoever Gives Us Bread

The Story of Italians in British Columbia

A lively peopleís history from the 1860s to the 1960s, as told by an award-winning historian

In the early 1860s, Italians began trickling into British Columbia via San Francisco. Fleeing grinding poverty back home, they came north to the isolated valleys and cities of the province to pan for gold, raise cattle, dig coal, fell timber, build railroads, smelt copper and refine lead, or to start small businesses. B.C. welcomed them grudgingly.

Recounting the stories of individual immigrants, celebrated author Lynne Bowen has crafted a loosely chronological narrative of the Italian settlement of B.C. Itís a story rife with discrimination and tragedy, with families torn apart when their men left Italy for more promising futures, but always there is a rich sense of community and a sense of pride.

Here we meet Joseph Fontana, who incensed his fellow striking miners when he crossed their picket line near Ladysmith. We meet Sabina Teti, who ran a boarding house in Vancouverís Italian district of Strathcona. We hear stories of the 53 Italians who were rounded up from B.C. and shipped off to Kananaskis internment camp for fear that they would form a fifth column in support of Mussolini. Through these stories, Bowen also reveals the Canadian labour, immigration and multiculturalism issues of the time.

Today, the B.C. Italian community is Canadaís oldest by 50 years. Bowen has spent 10 years conducting interviews and combing through newspapers, government records and letters to write this definitive history. Whoever Gives Us Bread will appeal to the large Italian population in B.C. and across Canada as well as to readers of social history.

About the Author

Lynne  Bowen

Lynne Bowen

Lynne Bowen writes western Canadian history for a general audience. Her five books include two with D&M - Muddling Through: The Remarkable Story of the ...

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