April 10 was 75 years to the date that 15 men from San Martino al Tagliamento first gathered to form a tight-knit club in Trail. Its mission was to help those affected by the Second World War. There’s been much joy, laughter, song and homemade wine over the decades, however the club’s primary purpose of giving back to the community has never wavered.

After 75 years, San Martino stays true to origins

The San Martino Club of Trail continues to be an integral part of the Italian community

There was a time when Annable had its own community hall. Lights were on Friday nights, laughter from the San Martino Club spilled into the street and after homemade wine had been sipped, the knocking sound of a competitive game of “Morra” took over the quaint little space.

The hall is long gone, it was never rebuilt. But all these years later, the San Martino Club continues to be an integral part of the Italian community who originally hailed from San Martino al Tagliamento – or “St. Martin ‘the Cut’ (as in the river cuts the land.)”

The club is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year – in fact, April 10 was 75 years to the date that 15 men first gathered at the Colombo Hall to form the “Family Circle of the Citizens of San Martino al Tagliamento.”

The reason?

“The purpose of this meeting was because of the long and disastrous war,” the men stated in the first recorded minutes dated April 10, 1942. “We learned from newspapers and correspondence of the poverty and squalor this war had left in general.

“Since in all parts of North America everyone is trying to alleviate the suffering of these poor people, this group too, is united to try and do some good to this end.”

Many descendants from those original 15 members are still living in the Trail and Greater Area. Throughout 75 years including present day, the group has continued the mission of helping others, though the club’s mandate has been somewhat updated to include staying connected to “our Italian culture, our roots, and to organize and support activities where we can reconnect with our heritage.”

Longtime executive member Louie DeRosa stopped by the Trail Times to provide the original minutes as well as photos from past events like the annual “San Martino Cabaret,” which is slated for April 29 in the Colombo Hall.

DeRosa’s family has been San Martino members since they arrived in Trail back in 1948.

“This group of people is like, holy smoke, how compassionate, forward thinking and community-minded they were,” DeRosa shared. “I mean they were no high rollers, yet these were all people who somehow found it within themselves to give something back.”

After 25 years on the San Martino executive, DeRosa continues to be inspired by all those who came before him.

“You’re working with such a broad cross section of people with a broad section of skills,” he said. “My life in Canada has been a bounty, success and good things. So this is my way of saying, ‘you know I can give something back.’ And the good feeling is why I keep doing it.”

DeRosa’s words echo the club’s present mandate, “As immigrants, our parents and grandparents made the ultimate sacrifice. They left their homeland to provide a better life for their families, here in Canada. Today, our club plays a fundamental role in community health and vitality. We volunteer, participate, and contribute to the many facets and specific needs within our community.”

Recent contributions include donations to the health foundation and Heliport Project at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital; Greater Trail Hospice; Sanctuary; the Rock Wall Society; and annual $300 scholarship(s) to J.L. Crowe graduates. Besides financial support, the group continues to help the community “hands-on” with various initiatives such as Holy Trinity Catholic Church projects and work in Trail parks; and they volunteer for many local events including Silver City Days and Festa Italiana in the Colombo Piazza.

The 15 men – F. Moro; G. Bertuzzi; Giuseppe Truant; V. Bressanutti; P. Fantin; F. Facchina; C. Orlando; Toni Bertuzzi; Angelo Bortuzzi; Primo Ongaro; D. Dean; U. Truant; R. Babuin; Lino Zilli; Lino Sovran; and Toni Tonelli – initiated the club or “Family Circle” to collect funds and “try, if possible, to help at least some of the extreme cases.” Notably, women and men were welcome, which was not the norm for that era.

The admission fee was $2 and 50 cents per month thereafter, donations were either monetary or merchandise.

San Martino al Tagliamento is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Pordenone in the Italian region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, located about 80 kilometres northwest of Trieste and about 20 kilometres northeast of Pordenone.

Morra is a hand game that dates back thousands of years to ancient Roman and Greek times. Each player simultaneously reveals their hand, extending any number of fingers, and calls out a number. Any player who successfully guesses the total number of fingers revealed by all players combined scores a point. Morra can be played to decide issues, much as two people might toss a coin, or for entertainment.

Just Posted

Trail Kidney Walk followed by a rafting trip

Endless Adventures from the Slocan Valley will be guiding two trips down the Columbia River

Trail bus line readies to takeover Kelowna run

Silver City Stage Lines must have a booking site up by Sept. 30; two vehicles activated by Oct. 26

Grand Forks SAR rescue lost hunter

Grand Forks SAR was called out mid-afternoon Saturday for reports of a missing hunter

High hazard in downtown Trail

Roofing work began early Monday morning at the Trail Memorial Centre

More burning prohibitions rescinded in southeast B.C.

Category 2 and 3 fires will be permitted in Southeast Fire Centre as of 1p.m. on Wednesday.

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

East Kootenay town considers public smoking ban ahead of cannabis legalization

Under the proposed regulations, anyone caught smoking or vaping in public will face a $2000 fine

B.C. woman facing animal cruelty charges after emaciated dog seized

Kira, a Rottweiler, had kidney and bladder infections

Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if US takes steps too

Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon.

Dozens speak at Vancouver hearing that could see duplexes replace single homes

The city clerk says 73 people signed up to speak at the hearing that began early Tuesday evening and adjourned hours later with 34 speakers still waiting.

North Carolina gov pleads with storm evacuees to be patient

The death toll rose to at least 37 in three states Tuesday, with 27 fatalities in North Carolina.

North and South Korea say they plan to bid for 2032 Olympics

Moon and Kim announced a sweeping set of agreements including a vow to work together to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

Russia’s reinstatement after doping scandal goes to a vote

The World Anti-Doping Agency is due to vote Thursday Sept. 20, 2018, on possible reinstatement of Russia.

Ontario wins stay on ruling that struck down council-cutting plan

The province had argued the stay was necessary to eliminate uncertainty surrounding the Oct. 22 vote, and the Court of Appeal agreed.

Most Read