From The Ground Up

From The Ground Up

An Italian Immigrant’s Story

By Frank Colantonio



Frank Colantonio’s story stands as potent testimony to a life dedicated to family, community, and social justice. Like countless other Italians after World War II, Colantonio, born in rural Molise, emigrated to Canada. Putting down roots in the rapidly expanding metropolis of Toronto, he worked his way through a variety of occupations: farm labourer, terrazzo grinder, carpenter, and trade union activist.

In 1960 and 1961 he was the key organizer of Italian-born carpenters in the momentous strikes that paralyzed the construction industry in Toronto. These events form the centrepiece of his stirring narrative. In later years, Frank Colantonio became a tireless advocate for workers’ safety, and a successful entrepreneur in the safety shoe business. In semi-retirement, he wrote his memoirs, the first of their kind, in his adopted language, English.


Grazie, Franco. La ringrazio per questo suo libro col quale ci fa partecipare alle esperienze della sua vita di emigrante–vita fatta di lavoro e di famiglia, di sacrificio e di lotta che non esito a definire eroica. Inoltre, il suo libro rivela una dimensione comune a molti emigranti, uomini e donne; i quali con determinazione riescono spesso ad avere successo, creandosi una vita nuova e migliore in Canada.

– Franca Iacovetta

Colantonio’s story will touch you, anger you, amuse you, and make you think. Many Italian-Canadians will find a part of their lives described in these pages. You will meet an intelligent, curious, hardworking, and committed man. Written in the language he acquired as an adult in a new land, Colantonio’s story is one of courage, defiance, triumph, disappointment, and success.

– Franca Iacovetta, author of Such Hardworking People: Italian Immigrants in Postwar Toronto