is the first in a series of Italian Canadian family-story
articles. All information will be catalogued, itemized, and
stored in our Italian Canadian Archive. We invite any family
wishing to share their story to call IL POSTINO, and make
was minus 39 on that bitterly cold January day when Luciano
and I arrived at the Giammaria home on Prince of Wales Drive
Giammaria greeted and welcomed us into the warmth and understated
elegance that is their home.
sun streamed in through the back windows, adding natural light
and warmth to the surroundings. Two brave ducks paddled in
the water below as I gazed from their family room up and down
the river. The mist was rising and curling like thick white
smoke, and although part of the river was open and the water
running, the ice had formed on either bank, adding to the
majestic beauty that is the Giammaria's back yard.
over steaming hot espresso with freshly baked biscotti, Bruno
shared his family history.
was born on January 12th, 1940, the third of seven children.
He grew up on his family's farm at Contrata Valiana, at the
base of Patrica, Frosinone, Italy.
May 11, 1957, Bruno's parents Luigi and Amelina, and six of
their seven children set sail for Halifax from Naples on the
vessel Saturnia. Their eldest child Ester, married and expecting
her first child, stayed in Italy, later joining the rest of
the family in Ottawa.
to Ottawa and not speaking English, Bruno, aged 17, went to
work at La Torren Hotel on Elgin Street. His job included
peeling potatoes and carrots, and washing dishes. He attended
the High School of Commerce at Carling and Bronson in the
evening. Bruno worked at the hotel for two months with very
little pay, but was told he would receive a $2.00 raise within
the week. The week came and went, and when Bruno questioned
his supervisor, he was told his raise would come "next
week". He was so upset; he left this position and never
Father Jerome Ferraro of St. Anthony's Parish found Bruno
a job as a labourer with Cummings Construction. Using only
a shovel and a wheelbarrow, Bruno and Carmelo Gruppi were
responsible for spreading gravel for the ground floor of Brookfield
High School. Bruno worked for Cummings for two years, until
Father Jerome found him a better position as a plumber's apprentice
with Edge Ltd.
Edge Ltd. declared bankruptcy in 1961, Bruno went to work
with Baker and Jules Plumbing Contractor at Central Park Lodge
located at 2374 Carling Avenue. When this project was finished
he began working for Crump Mechanical.
1963, Bruno went to work in the Bahamas. The money was good,
but Bruno was lonely. He returned to Ottawa after three months,
and went back to work for Crump Mechanical at the Ottawa Civic
1964, Bruno received his plumbing and heating license, and
supervised a laboratory at Tunney's Pasture. Later, he was
responsible for the Kempville School.
obtained his Master License before his third project at Deloro
Stelite Foundry in Belleville, and worked at Crump Mechanical
for a total of eight years.
life changed when he returned to Ottawa in 1968. Romeo Toscano,
a supervisor at J. Lewan Mechanical offered him the position
of director of plumbing and heating for the building on Kent
(Joe) Fagnano, who worked with ceramic tiles, asked Bruno
if he would like to meet Norma Cellini, a lady from his wife
Maria's home town of Sulmona. Norma lived on Rochester Street
with her aunt and uncle, and they began to date.
and Norma were married August 2nd, 1969. Their first home
on Clifton Road was a wedding present from Bruno's parents.
Bruno and Norma have three children, Luigi, Paolo, and Patrizia.
May 1st, 1971, Bruno's Plumbing and Heating opened, operating
from their home on Clifton Road. Among Bruno's accomplishments,
he became the "first Italian plumber's apprentice";
the "first Italian plumber", and the "first
Italian Plumbing Contractor in Ottawa".
Plumbing and Heating's new location officially opened in 1975
at 275 Richmond Road.
Bruno and Norma purchased their property on Prince of Wales
where they live today in 1977. Ten
years later the new house was built, and Bruno conceived the
idea for his "invention". For 15 years, they saved
energy, as well as approximately $1000.00 a year on their
his basement, Bruno explained his hot water recirculating
system. When a tap is turned on anywhere in the house, "almost"
instant hot water runs from the tap. In a traditional water
line, it can take approximately 40 seconds before cold turns
to hot water. Hot water is continually recirculated through
pipes, and the water then returns to a heater via a series
of ball and check valves. In the past, Bruno's invention attracted
the interest of city officials to determine if this is practical
to install in Ottawa Community Housing projects.
initial installation costs vary, but to equip a 2,000 square-foot
home, it would cost approximately $2,000.00, and would take
three to four years to receive any payback.
2006, Bruno obtained his U.S. patent; and in 2007, he received
his Canadian patent for his hot water recirculating pipes.
Pope John II visited Ottawa in 1984, Bruno installed ten drinking
fountains as well as the plumbing for two emergency hospitals
at Lebreton Flats.
our espresso cups empty, and the biscotti finished, we once
again headed into the reality of Ottawa's freezing January
days, trying to recapture that warm, cozy feeling within the
welcoming walls on Prince of Wales Drive.
Ruth Perley Fortin