A pillar of the Trail community, stonemason Bill Di Domenico recently passed away just shy of his 104th birthday. Here are people walking along the stone bleachers he helped construct at Gyro Park. (date unknown) Photos: Submitted

A pillar of the Trail community, stonemason Bill Di Domenico recently passed away just shy of his 104th birthday. Here are people walking along the stone bleachers he helped construct at Gyro Park. (date unknown) Photos: Submitted

Paying homage to a cherished Trail stonemason

Guglielmo “Bill” Di Domenico recently passed away just months shy of his 104th birthday

by Eileen Truant Pedersen

The Rock Wall Project

Trail’s beloved stonemason Guglielmo “Bill” Di Domenico died recently.

We, The Rock Wall Project, are mourning his loss.

He was three months shy of his 104th birthday, and was one of two surviving stonemasons out of 15, who erected stone walls all over the city—hundreds of them — between the 1930s and 60s.

Our dear Louie Bedin is now our sole surviving master from that era.

We Trail citizens have great reverence, appreciation, and respect for the back breaking work and conditions these masters and many other rock workers endured.

Guglielmo was born in the medieval farming hamlet of Beffi, Italy in 1917, in the rock and mortar family home that had stood for generations.

He and his brother Carlo, also a Trail stonemason, refined their trade in Beffi where men scrambled up ladders and along primitive scaffolding shouldering rocks, while the women followed with dishes of mortar, prepared from limestone and sand, balanced on their heads.

Masters indeed.

Bill Di Domenico worked as a stonemason for the city and Trail parks. Here he is standing at one of his split river rock walls on Eliot St. in Warfield.(date unknown) Photo: Submitted

Bill Di Domenico worked as a stonemason for the city and Trail parks. Here he is standing at one of his split river rock walls on Eliot St. in Warfield.(date unknown) Photo: Submitted

Bill arrived in Trail in 1948. He worked on city and park rock walls from 1958-1976.

A few years ago, after the death of his dear wife Gina, he moved to a Delta, B.C. senior’s care facility to live close to his daughter Lisa and his grandchildren.

He, alongside master stonemason Steve Como, did a ton of stonework at our beautiful Gyro Park along the Columbia River—the stone and mortar retaining walls under the sidewalk to Sunningdale, and the multi-level 240-foot long stone “Bleachers”, built with the dual purpose of shoring up the riverbank and providing seating for swimmers and sunbathers during the 1960s.

Guglielmo lived up the mountainside in West Trail and walked to many of his jobs.

As did others, such as Louie Bedin, he built split river rock walls for private homes after hours in various parts of the city, arriving on foot. These works of art add warmth and interest to people’s homes. Knowing where exactly to tap a river rock to split it cleanly was an art in itself.

The stories of the builders and the walls are preserved in the coffee table book, “Set in Stone~A History of Trail’s Rock Walls”, available at the library.

Most city stonework was usually done during winter months when government grants became available.

Work sites provided no bathrooms and no eating facilities. These men were fit, as you can imagine.

They took pride in their work, in a job well done, and in their mastery of joining rocks in such a way as to “last a lifetime.”

And each stonemason, especially those utilizing huge boulders, had their own signature way of working and finishing the stone.

They are truly works of art.

Several of Trail’s rock walls hold up our winding roads and hills and will for decades to come.

Guglielmo gave generously of his time while we were busy gathering information for the book. We would drive him to his construction sites, record his stories on cassette and video, then back to his home for a glass of wine.

With that characteristic twinkle in his eye he would ask “When’s the book coming?” “I hope in a couple of weeks” I’d say.

That conversation happened a few times … and he would end up answering his own question with “In a couple of weeks aye?”

We drove to see the cemetery stonework ‘one more time’ and he comically quipped, “Don’t leave me there.”

He had an easy going demeanor and a gentle nature.

He could not believe that anyone would possibly be interested in the stonemasons and in the stone infrastructure he helped construct.

It’s these workers that are rarely recognized. His friends, neighbours, and the community in general, had great respect for this hard-working friendly individual.

We invite you to take a moment to honour Guglielmo and appreciate his work by stopping along the walkway at Gyro Park, or sitting on the steps of the Bleachers to imagine the clinking and cracking of rocks being mortared in place 70 years ago.

R.I.P. Bill.

You left us a functioning living legacy to enjoy for decades to come.

We love you.

Read more: Bill Di Domenico obituary

Read more: Trail walking tour offers ‘Taste of life in Little Italy’

Read more: Trail Blazers: When 2 towns became 1



newsroom@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of Trail

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

Montrose resident Kimba McLean has hiked Antenna Trail every day since October and counting. Photo: Jim Bailey
Montrose man makes daily trek up Antenna Trail

Kimba McLean put on more than 800-km hiking Antenna Trail every day for the past six months

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
‘In grief for our dying world’: B.C. climate activists embark on 4-day protest

Demonstrators will walk through Vancouver for the first two days before boarding a ferry Sunday morning

Most Read