One of the main reasons we went to Fernie was to find anoother tangible attachment to Carmela and Giuseppe Amato.  We found two: Carmela’s sister’s grandchildren and Concetta Amato Migale’s gravesite.

Apparently, Concetta and Raffaele Migale had Seven children, Santina, Mary, Bruno, Caterina, Francescantonio (Tony), Gennaro (Jimmy) and Josephine. Bruno was named after his paternal grandfather, Bruno Migale. Francescantonio was named after his maternal grandfather, Francescantonio Amato, who was dead before Tony’s parents even married. Raffaele had already named his daughter from his first marriage after his mother. Santina was named after an aunt. Mary was probably named after the maternal grandmother, Marianna Tozzo Amato. Thus the parents, Concetta and Raffaele, kept to the Italian tradition of naming the children, at least the first four.

Also, by tradition, the good Italian father would pick a husband for his daughter. Raffaele did not do well with the first daughter and the sisters all revolted after that. Not a single other sibling would marry an Italian. Thus, the Italian influence was much decreased in the second generation. Except for the great cooking. The family is now thoroughly Canadianized, except for the one sister, Caterina, and her family, who became Americans.

Cory, my co-researcher on this project, showed us several graves. Raffaele, Concetta, several of their daughters. 

He brought us up a dirt road to Cold Creek, where coal mines existed until the mid 1950s. The whole village was demolished and bulldozed and the denizens sent to live in Fernie, a mile down the road. But the coal coke ovens are still there. It looks strange to see a long row of brick and stone 10 foot high arches stretching for almost a mile through the woods. In their heyday, those arches were one continual structure, lined with brick and had heavy metal airtight doors. The coal was thrown in and heated to 3200 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat must have been horrid in those woods. Coal would come by the train car load and dumped in. They would be burned down to bricks of coal coke which burned better than regular coal, and easier to transport. I can see why so many died of lung cancer.

The sad thing is that the historical society and various Historical Projects have not been able to keep up with the vandalism and nature. That has even extended to the cemetery, where kids think it is fun to knock crosses off the stones. One of our cousins’ grave stones is missing.

Eventually, sadly, we left our friends in Fernie. 2965 miles into the trip. The easiest route was back the way we came. Through the Canadian Rockies’ Crow’s Nest Pass, scene of the most disasterous rock fall in Canadian history. You can still see all the rocks. Enough to destroy a small village. Big rocks, small rocks. Mostly granite. The pass is wide enough in places to have a village along a two mile stretch, one road wide. Some places were probably very narrow. But there is a Tim Horton’s! We turned north after the pass and headed along the Rockie’s foothills for a day. Billboards told us that we could never afford a house in that area. “Bungalows starting at $400,000”!

Since I wanted to see Banff, we stopped at a campsite seven miles from that famous town, Canmore. All that area is famous for skiing and shopping. Posh boutiques and Swiss-look condos. Sign on the entry to the RV park: “Watch out for children and bunnies”. Free range bunnies play in the roads. We went out for dinner that night at a family style restaurant. Leaving the restaurant, we decided on a tour of the town. There were two elk, a bull and a cow, just meandering around. Elks look like overgrown deer, not the massive size of moose.

Animals have the right of way on most roads. Going through a narrow area the next day, we had to come to a stop. As we looked along the row of trucks ahead of us, we saw the problem: A mountain goat was walking nonchalantly down the center of the road, trying to decide which way to turn.

The most fascinating thing I have learned so far on this trip is the absolute immensity of the whole country. Mountains are so high. The roads are so long. The horizons are so far away! You start to learn that the attitudes of people depends on where they are. Someone from the Dakotas just isn’t going to put up with the whining and helplessness of someone from New York. Out here, there just aren’t enough people to depend on. You have to do for yourself. Obviously, friends will help when possible, but it isn’t the same as looking for that government worker to do for you what you could do for yourself.