Tag Archives: Family

My Nonna Ida Pollarolo

11 Sep


Date of lunch:
Sunday, September 11, 2011

The company:
This was a Lunch with Mary first. My first lunch out of town (it was in my hometown of Ottawa) and my first lunch with a family member. I had lunch with my nonna (that is Italian for grandmother) Ida Pollarolo. She is awesome! She moved to Ottawa from Italy in the 1950s with my mom, my uncle and my nonno. Quick aside: Since there weren’t many other Italians in my elementary school, I never heard the words nonna and nonno except with my grandparents. I thought they were their actual names and I thought it was such a lovely coincidence that these two people with such similar names had found each other. I have always been very close with my nonna. I remember in high school on a P.A. Day, a lot of my friends were getting together for something fun, but I declined and biked over to nonna’s to hang with her. I miss her a lot since I have moved to Toronto but I try to call her often and send cards and letters when I can.

The food:
We ate in the dining room of the Lord Lansdowne Retirement Residence where my nonna lives. The food is pretty good at this place. I sort of wish I could have stayed for dinner as it was lobster tail and filet mignon. Although not surf and turf, our lunch was pretty delicious. We both started with the Lansdowne salad, which is a salad that includes grapes, melon and strips of ham. Nonna let me know that she does not like having sweet salads and salads should just be salads without fruit, except tomatoes “which they say is a fruit”. For the main course, I had the meat lasagna and she had chicken cordon bleu. I had apple pie for dessert and she had a fruit bowl. I also had coffee and we both drank water. Total bill is unknown to me as meals are included in her rent and I do know she has to pay a little to have a guest but she didn’t tell me how much.

The lunch lesson:
We talked a lot about her childhood in Valdagno. She lived there all her life before coming to Canada and it’s where my mom was born. I have been there a few times, it’s a very lovely town in the foothills of northern Italy. She grew up on a farm and started working where she could as early as she could. She had jobs such as collecting eggs from the chickens and helping her grandfather plant the potatoes. She was the youngest of eight – 7 girls and 1 boy. She spoke very highly of her mother and told me how great a mom she was and that the best thing she taught her was to respect everyone. Nonna said how her mom taught her that no matter someone’s background, education, etc., that we’re all equal. This is a great lesson that her mom passed on to her and one that was passed down to me as well.

The lunch:
I love my nonna a lot and treasure all the time I can spend with her since I live in Toronto and don’t get to Ottawa that much anymore. Lately she hasn’t been feeling that well so I decided to come to Ottawa for a weekend and spend as much time with her as I can. I was very happy that she seemed in great spirits, energetic and able to head down to the dinning room for our lunch.

We talked about the books that she’s been reading lately. She’s an avid reader across all sorts of genres. She just finished Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy by the same author as Under the Tuscan Sun. She then told me that the book is nice but how do people live like that? She said Tuscany is like that if you’re rich, but not if you actually have to work for a living. It was a great observation. Italy isn’t all about tasting wine, eating and basking in the sunshine – there is work to be done!

I also just have a general observation about Italian homes. Any Italians that read this, please feel free to weigh in. When you go to a home in Italy (and I have seen this in Italian-Canadians’ homes as well), no matter the size of the home, there is a room somewhere, often in the basement, with a table that seats about 20 people. I always found it strange. So although there is work to be done, we do love to eat!

I was telling my nonna how I was going to a wedding the following weekend in Toronto (yay Maja and Mike!) and that I had just recently been in Vancouver for another wedding (Ali and Adrian!!). She looked at me and said that she doesn’t know about weddings anymore, it’s just a ceremony and what’s most important is honesty and being honest with one another. She said if you have honesty, that is all that matters. She is a wise lady.

After our lunch, as I left her room to head out and catch the train back to Toronto, we said our usual “I love you” and she followed with what she always says “be good”. So I said “nonna, you be good” to which she replied “there is not a lot of chances here to be bad”. Oh nonna, you’re the best! Tanti baci.


United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada Genealogist Doug Grant

11 Feb

Lunch with Mary 049

Date of lunch:
Friday, February 11, 2011

The company:
Doug Grant is a member of the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada, the editor of Loyalist Trails and the genealogist for the Governor Simcoe branch of the UELAC. He is also my 5th cousin once removed (or 4th or 6th or 7th – I need to do a bit more research into my family tree). Doug is a descendent of loyalists and both him and I descend from the same loyalist, Michael Warner, who came to New York Province in the mid-1700s. Being loyal to the British Empire cost him his home in the American Revolution, but for that loyalty, Michael was given land in Canada for free by the king.

The food:
We ate at Mangia e Bevi, which I just found on Google when looking for a restaurant in the King and Sherbourne area. And what a discovery! It’s actually pretty hard to locate because it’s back from the street across a parking lot but it is awesome. The restaurant smells delicious and has a main dining area, as well as a smaller room for larger groups. The décor is very cool. Once we saw how huge the pizzas were, we decided to split a pizza and a salad. We had the Four Stagioni pizza which has mushrooms, prosciutto, artichoke hearts and olives, as well as a Caprese salad with tomatoes and boccaccini cheese. I had a ginger ale and Doug had a small Steam Whistle. Total bill was $35 with tax.

The lunch lesson:
The lesson from this lunch actually is not something I learned at the lunch but more the spirit behind the lunch itself. I am just glad that I have taken this step to learn more about my family’s history. At times in high school I will admit that I found my Canadian history class a bit boring. I also didn’t know about the whole loyalist family connection thing yet either. But knowing now that I am part of this history, as we are all part of history, really does make it that much more interesting, and I think everyone should take the time, if they can, and learn a little more about where they came from.

The lunch:
My grandfather, Roger Warner, passed away in November. I went back to Ottawa for the funeral and we drove to the area where my family comes from along the St. Lawrence River. The Warners have a lot of history in the area – from Cornwall to Russell and beyond. My great-grandmother’s farm actually no longer exists because it is now underwater in the expanded St. Lawrence seaway – it was flooded in the fifties. When I was in the area and at the cemetery, I saw how rich my family history was and how little I knew about it and I decided I wanted to learn more. I knew that we did descend from loyalists so I emailed the association and Doug wrote back and indicated that his mother was a Warner and we are, in fact, related. Crazy.

The story of how the loyalists ended up coming to be is quite interesting. And Doug was very patient in explaining it to me and I hope I can at least summarize a bit of it accurately. The British soldiers –  both professionals and loyalist regiments raised from the local population – were fighting against the rebels (Patriots). It was basically a civil war. My loyalist ancestor, Michael Warner, was a member of the loyalist King’s Royal Regiment of New York. As the countryside fell out of Britain’s control, the loyalists’ lands were confiscated. Loyalties were divided, towns were divided, families were divided. The loyalist soldiers and families had to leave and go to British-held areas where many of them lived in refugee camps, several of which were located in what is now Canada.

At war’s end, in order to provide for the loyalist soldiers and their families who could not return to their former homes, the king granted them land. Members of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York were  settled along along the St. Lawrence River.  In the following years, to keep these families loyal, the king also granted land to their sons and daughters right until the mid-1800s.

So we know that Michael Warner stayed loyal and received land from the king. Documents haven’t been completely clear as to where exactly it was although we know it was in Osnabruk Township in Stormont County and many believe it is now underwater along with my family’s land.

My mother was born in Italy and because her family history was so far away, we did go to Italy a few times in my youth to see where my mom grew up, meet our cousins and learn about her history. So it’s funny that there was such rich Warner history just an hour or so away from where I grew up and I never took the time to learn it all. I guess Italy always seemed more glamorous (it is pretty awesome) but I am glad that I now know a bit more about my dad’s side and I am very grateful to Doug for giving me a little glimpse of the rich history that I hope to learn.

Oh and the neat part is that Doug signs his name with UE (United of the Empire) at the end and I have since learned that I can do the same.


Mary Warner, UE