Skip to main content

Italian Tradesmen and Entrepreneurs

A long factory building with narrow windows and doors.

The Columbia Macaroni Works, Fernie, BC, was opened around 1909-1910 by C. Marinaro who enticed Emilio Picariello to come to Fernie from Toronto to run it in 1911.


Newspaper advertisement.

Advertisement for Phillip Carosella, general and wholesale liquor merchant. Carosella also ran a general store and the Opera House in the nearby mining community of Hosmer, BC for a short duration.

While the majority of Fernie’s Italian immigrants worked in coal mines and for the railways, a number were businessmen. Philip Carosella arrived in 1881 and worked for William Fernie. With brother Louis, he opened a general store in Fernie’s Old Town. Philip also built the Roma Hotel, which was run by his son-in-law Dominic Nicoletti. The premises were destroyed in the 1908 fire with losses totalling $25,000.

A group of men standing in front of the Roma Hotel in winter.

The Roma Hotel was built by Philip Carosella in 1903 and was destroyed in the 1904 and 1908 fires. It was leased and later purchased by Al Rizutto, who operated a small bank on the premises to serve Italian immigrants.


Newspaper advertisement

Advertisements placed in the 1910 Catholic Directory by the Rizzuto Brothers

Alessandro (Al) Rizzuto immigrated to the US with a guardian in 1888 when he was 15. In 1895, Al walked to the Thompson placer mines in the Cariboo District and then went to work for the CPR. He used his fluency in English to serve as a court interpreter. With brother Angelo, he leased the Roma Hotel from Philip Carosella, where he operated a small bank; he also ran a livery stable. The Rizzutos lost $10,500 in the 1908 fire. They rebuilt and purchased the Imperial Hotel and established a construction business. Al became a member of the Fernie Board of Trade, almost un-heard-of since it was a bastion of the British establishment.

Ice cream wagon pulled by two horses with children in front.

Emilio Picariello ice cream wagon being driven by son Steve Picariello, Fernie, BC, ca 1916-1917. Picariello gave free ice creams in trade for bottles which resulted in the nickname “the Bottle King.” Breweries and distilleries bought these back from him for re-use.


Emilio Picariello arrived in Fernie in 1911 from Ontario and took over operation of the macaroni factory established in 1909-1910 by G. Maraniro.  Between 1911 and 1918, Picariello started a number of other businesses including cigar and ice cream factories, and a wholesale food delivery operation.

The number of Italian businesses continued to grow as individuals made money in the mines and chose more congenial enterprises.

A store in the background with a wagon with horses in the front.

Delivery wagons outside Guzzi’s general store in Fernie, BC, 1911. Paul Guzzi holds the reigns of the wagon (his daughter Connie is seated next to him) and his wife Liberata is in the doorway. His brother Domenico is standing right.


Audio clip with transcript:  “Italian Immigration History | Al Rizutto Story (03:05)