SOI TRIESTE LODGE HISTORY
In 1935 the Trieste Lodge of Hamilton suffered a tragedy when its first venerable and one of the founders of the lodge, Rosario Ingrassia, died unexpectedly of a heart attack. According to the obituaries published to commemorate his death he had been one of the moving forces behind the creation of the Trieste Lodge. This was formed by Ingrassia and others who had previously been members of an organization in Hamilton called the First Italian Society for Mutual Benefit and he may well have used that experience in the effort to create the Order's Mutual Benefit Society. The name of Rosario Ingressia, "labourer, Hamilton", was recorded as one of the charter members of the OSIO Mutual Benefit Society in its letters of incorporation of 1926.
Photograph of Order Sons of Italy House, Hamilton, ON, Date Unknown. [Ontario Archives]
In his obituary, the date for the inauguration of the Trieste Lodge is given as 1 January 1922 when Ingrassia himself presided as the first venerable. However, Ingrassia is also said to have worked for the creation of a lodge of the OSIO for some time before that inaugural date and the lodge might well have met before it was officially installed in the Order. Ingrassia held the position of venerable of the Trieste Lodge from 1922 to 1926 and from 1934 until his death in January 1935. In the same year in which Ingrassia died the officers of the lodge that he had helped to found were recorded as:
Venerable Luigi Lanza, Assistant Venerable Antonio Marcogliese, Past Venerable Francesco Zaffiro, Orator Rev. C.A. Fornataro, Administrative Secretary Salvatore Scime, Recording Secretary Giuseppe Bocaccio, Treasurer Fiorindo Calzonetti, and Trustees Luigi Mascia, Antonio Olivieri, Pasquale DiPaolo, Domenico Pertoncini, and Francesco Genovese.
At the ceremony held to install these officers in 1935 the presiding grand officer, Grand Administrative Secretary Aurelio Del Piero, himself from Hamilton, recommended that the Trieste Lodge study the possibility of creating a female lodge in the city just as other lodges had done elsewhere in Ontario. This recommendation was favourably received and the result was the creation in February 1936 of the Roma Imperia Lodge, the first of two female lodges that would be created in Hamilton in the inter-war period. The new lodge was inaugurated in 1936 and was immediately successful. Its first venerable was Maria Spallaci and as early as April 1937 the lodge was reporting a membership of more than 120 and discussions were underway for the possible creation of a juvenile lodge for young women in the city. In the same year, the lodge reported that it had been able to contribute
Photograph of group Order Sons of Italy, Hamilton, ON, 1950-1960s. [source]
the considerable sum of $1,000 toward the building fund for Hamilton's Casa d'Italia. The second female lodge in Hamilton, the Lodge. Imperia, was inaugurated in 1938 though it is unclear from available records whether this was the lodge for young women that the Roma Imperia had intended in its deliberations in 1937. All three Hamilton lodges survived the turmoil of the Second World War though they suffered considerably because of their loss of the Hamilton Casa d'Italia. The accomplishments of the Hamilton lodges of the OSIO, both in the inter-war and in the post-Second World War period, are tremendous in their variety and it will be possible only to touch upon a sampling of them here. The Trieste Lodge, in particular, has distinguished itself through a variety of achievements in Hamilton ranging from the seemingly insignificant to the inspirational. Whether it was simply providing assistance for the
families left behind in the tragic aftermath of
an auto accident in 1959, for example, or in the various major building projects that the lodge has sponsored over time, its members have worked with dedication to promote the better good of the Order.
The lodge's building campaign began in the late 1950s after it had already been deprived of one hard-earned property during the Second World War, the Hamilton Casa D'Italia. By the early 1960s the lodge was able to purchase a new building which was then renovated through materials and labour provided by its members. In the mid-1970s the lodge successfully carried out some $40,000 worth of further renovations and a decade later it was able to announce a major construction program, in the sum of two million dollars, to acquire or construct 50 family housing units. Most recently, the lodge has been working toward the realization of its dream Villa Italia, a nursing home, and retirement complex to be built on Hamilton Mountain on 75 acres of land that have already been purchased.
Throughout all of these concerns with building programs and the like, considerable sums of money have also been donated to a variety of charitable causes from the Hogg's Hollow Tunnel Tragedy Fund to the Kidney Foundation of Canada. In 1993 alone, the Trieste Lodge was able to donate, amongst other sums, some $5,000 of a total of $15,000 that it has pledged toward the building of a new Ronald McDonald House in Hamilton and in the same year it has managed to raise, through the efforts of its bingo volunteers, roughly $30,000 for its Villa Italia campaign.