Blog

Book launch: This Pilgrim Nation

I’m launching my book This Pilgrim Nation on Wednesday, January 15, starting at 7am, at the Supermarket Bar on 268 Augusta Avenue, Kensington Market. The event will feature a brief performance by the Portuguese guitar maker and player Nuno Cristo, a conversation between myself and Dr. Susana Miranda, and a reading from the book. Refreshments will be provided. See here for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/500665777202899/

City Builders documentary episodes 3-4 & new oral history videos now online

Episode 3, titled “New Heights,” focuses on the introduction of new building techniques and materials (i.e. concrete forming, flying form and drywall) in Toronto in the 1960s and how they disrupted the industry, especially its unions. It examines the controversial organization of concrete forming workers and the intense battles between international and national unions. This episode features interviews with the former labour organizers and construction workers John Stefanini, Marino Toppan, Quinto Ceolin, Rocco Lotito, and Angelo Zaccaria.

Episode 4, titled “New Lows,” focuses on the infiltration of organized crime and the multiple episodes of violence in Toronto’s construction industry in the 1960s-70s, leading up to the Royal Commission on Certain Sectors of the Building Industry (1973-4). This episode features interviews with journalist and author Catherine Wismer and the former Local 183 business manager John Stefanini.

Also available are nine new oral history videos featuring the retired construction workers, union organizers, and community advocates António Filipe, Carlos Botelho, Gunter Hartleb, John Ferreira, Mamadou Bah, Norm Pike’s family, Pasquale Cerra, Quinto Ceolin, and Rosemarie Powell.

This Pilgrim Nation: book pre-order

My first book This Pilgrim Nation: the Making of the Portuguese Diaspora in Postwar North America is coming out this Winter with the University of Toronto Press. The official publication date is December 9, 2019; just in time for Christmas. But you can pre-order your copy now at a 25% discount on the University of Toronto Press’ website: https://utorontopress.com/us/this-pilgrim-nation-2
Details about the book launch coming soon.

City Builders & Myseum of Toronto exhibit at the Columbus Centre

The City Builders’ exhibit at the Columbus Centre, part of this year’s Myseum of Toronto Intersections festival, was launched on March 24 with a reception held in that Italian-Canadian community space. About 50 guests attended the event, which started out with a series of brief speeches from Emanuele Lepri (Villa Charities/ Columbus Centre), Jeremy Diamond (Myseum of Toronto), Jason Ottey (LIUNA Local 183), Gabriele Scardellato (Mariano A. Elia Chair in Italian Canadian Studies), and a presentation by the project manager Dr. Gilberto Fernandes. After the audience members toured the exhibit, they were able to ask questions directly to Dr. Fernandes and Marino Toppan – a retired construction worker, union organizer, and key interviewee in the City Builders documentary. Members of the press were also present, including CityNews and OMNI TV (Italian programming), which reported about the event in their evening news.

Photos by Vincenzo Pietropaolo

The CBC (radio and online) also interviewed me for a story about the City Builders exhibit. You can read the article here. Unfortunately, the article attracted white supremacist and anti-immigration remarks in the comments section, which I addressed in Twitter thread, here.

Given the large public interest and turnout, we extended the length of the exhibit for an extra week. The end date is now April 7.