It is with heavy hearts we announce the passing of Domenico on January 14, 2024 in his 92nd year. He is reunited in Heaven with his beloved wife of 61 years Aldina (2017). Beloved father of Teresa (George), Paula (Domenic), John (Cinzia) and Luciana (Don). Caring nonno of Diana, Debbie (Andrew), Mario, Matteo, Bianca, Chiara, Domenic and Sofia. Proud bisnonno of Giselle and Carmelo. Loving brother of Vincenzo (Giovanna) and Paolo (Renée). Cherished cousin of Giuseppe Vigilanti, and Vincenzo Vigilanti (pre-deceased 2021).
Born in Roccasicura, Molise Italy, Domenico emigrated to Canada in 1959 in search of a better life to provide for his family. He was passionate and proud of his family. He loved to play bocce and bingo, and was an avid supporter of his favourite soccer team, Inter Milan, and his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs. He was trained as a calzolaio and a master at cement forming. He will be deeply missed by family, friends, and all who knew him. Visitation will be held at JERRETT FUNERAL HOME – ST CLAIR CHAPEL (1141 St. Clair Ave W., one block east of Dufferin St.) on Wednesday, January 17, 2024 from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm & 6:00 pm- 9:00 pm. A Funeral Mass will be held at St. Clare’s Catholic Church (1118 St. Clair Ave W.,) on Thursday at 10:00 am. Entombment to follow at Prospect Cemetery (1450 St. Clair Ave W.). In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Domenico’s memory to Parkinson Canada.
Eulogy - Domenico Siraco
Thank you to everyone for coming to honour and remember our carissimo papa’, Domenico Eduardo Siraco.
Affectionately known as Mincuccio.
A man that I am proud to say was kind, intelligent, strong, loving, with a great sense of humour. He was a true Gentleman, a family man.
Born on Nov. 8th, 1931, in the “Comune di Roccasicura, provincia Isernia”, in the Molise Region of Italy. A town that he loved. He was very nostalgic about Italy, and often told us tales of his youth, people that he knew and his time there.
He recalled his childhood with his “Tatone Jesué “, his step-grandfather, sitting on his knee and who often
gave him treats.
His dad Paolo was recruited for the Italian army to fight in the Second World War. Unfortunately, he passed away when my dad was 12. My dad, together with his younger brother Vincenzo, were left to assist my grandmother Teresa in making ends meet, for there was no widow’s pension or government assistance. Despite his having to work the land, the vineyards, and orchards, my grandmother wanted to make sure that dad learned “un mestiere” so he began to apprentice to become “un Calzolaio”, a shoemaker, at a young age. He put his training to work by getting a job once in Canada, and by providing handmade leather sandals for his children and himself.
Growing up, dad loved his two younger brothers, Vincenzo & Paolo, who was 12 years his junior. There was of course a sibling rivalry with Vincenzo, being so close in age. Vincenzo apparently followed his older brother around. Uncle Vince may disagree. But dad loved both of his brothers very, very much, always, no matter how life would intervene. Dad missed Uncle Vince when Vince emigrated from Italy. Of course he loved his baby brother Paolo, whom dad hoped would continue his studies and go to University, and was proud of him when he graduated from U of T.
I cannot forget to acknowledge his love and affection for his “cugini carnale”, Vince and Giuseppe Vigilante. They were like brothers, especially since both of them lived with dad and his family while they attended school and when Zia Nice and zio Cornelio emigrated to Canada. Dad was especially close to Peppino, “erano della stessa classe”. He admired him for his eloquence, his education and respected him for his career as a lawyer and judge, and the time they spent carousing.
His time in the military exposed dad to city life in the city of Milano. He made friends, visited the main tourist attractions of La Scala and il Duomo. He was fascinated by “La Borsa di Milano” and picked my brain trying to understand equities.
Everyone knew each other in Roccasicura, and dad knew my mom from a young age. He fell in love with Aldina as a teenager, he was smitten. They were married April 9th, 1956; his love continued to the day of her death and sustained him through difficult times. His decision to immigrate to Canada was not made lightly. He had a wife and 2 children, Teresa & Paola, to support, and with a recession in Italy at that time, dad was hard pressed to find work.
He arrived at the port of Halifax in September of 1959, alone, hoping to find employment and lodgings, and a future for his family, who followed in October of 1960. He proceeded to Toronto and joined nonna Teresa and zio Paolo, with zio Vincenzo on his way. Together with other friends and family from Roccasicura, Carovilli and Villa san Michele, they formed a tight knit community. Upon arrival, my mother my sister and I joined him on Claremount, near the Kensington Market, but we all quickly moved to Millicent to less cramped lodgings.
Life was not easy; he remained a frugal immigrant, who did not like to spend money frivolously
He worked as a shoemaker in a shoe factory on Geary Street. I remember him taking me and Paula with him the occasional Saturday. This lasted for 12 years. In 1970 he was able, with the help of his brother Vince, to start working in construction building roads until he retired at the age of 62. The pay was much better, he had benefits and a pension, all the reasons for supporting his family of 4 children. Yes, John and Lucy were born in Canada.
What was it like growing up with dad? Well, my sister and I were very much afraid of him when he gave us “The Look”. But we couldn’t wait for him to get home. As he got off the bus and walked down Lappin Ave, Paula and I would race to give him a hug. We learned to pour him a beer, a Red Cap, so as not to have any foam. On hot summer nights, we would climb out the second story window onto the roof for dad to drink his beer. Dad would take us into his vegetable garden to TRY to teach us the ins and outs of growing tomatoes, and to make sure we watered them properly. He wanted me to learn to make wine, even though I was a girl. He also took me hunting once and tried to get me to shoot a rifle. I was having none of it, but I did learn to clean his Rifle. Yes, he did love the outdoors, Hunting, fishing. Purchasing a cottage was a big dream of his. He did purchase property in 1971 at Woodland beach. He felled trees to make room for our large tent. He slept on a cot with a rifle underneath to protect his family as the area was deserted. My sister and I first learned to drive up at “the cottage”. When he was unable to get a building permit, he continued his hobby of looking for properties at Wasaga Beach and was still doing it at the age of 90.
Dad loved perusing the real estate pages, and actually flipped 4 different houses. He would fix them up, rent them and sell them for a profit. His skills were put to use for me and my sisters, becoming our personal handyman and contractor. He loved music and sang many times while he was working around the house. Traditional Neapolitan songs, songs from Giuseppe Verdi’s operas. He instilled this love of music in all of us, ensuring that we each went for music lessons like he did for the clarinet. 3 of us had no choice, we had to go for “Fisarmonica”/accordion lessons.
My fondest memory of my dad from my early teens is having many discussions with him around the dinner table, about everything. Current events, the meaning of life, religion and finances. But he made us watch Westerns, wrestling and of course there was Hockey night in Canada. I was not a fan, but my sister Paula and my brother John were right there with him, cheering on the Leafs, with little Lucy ready to make banners for the team.
When I was in University, I had a curfew of 10:00. My dad would question why I was leaving at 8:30 only to return by 10. I usually got home by midnight. My brother John however, had a lot more leeway when it came to curfews….
On that note, my brother John will now say some words….
My father told me a story once of a “paesano” in Italy on his deathbed. This man’s only regret is that, now at the end of his life he still had so much to learn. I think dad felt the same way. Although at the end, we believe he was ready to finally rest he felt he had more to give. Dad was an inspiring teacher, always reminding us of the way that things could be done better and more efficiently.
He was sometimes critical, yes, but always in a way of making us better … and he was a great driving
Teacher – far more patient than we are with our kids!
Dad had challenges at the end. However, he maintained his wit and always needed to make sure everything was just right. He knew which one of his kids he would task with the requirement to get the job done. Although he would often ask each one of us the same question until he got the answer he wanted.
Teresa was the brains of the family. Any financial issues would be relegated to her. Although he would not always agree with her, as there had to be a better way to save money. Always the frugal immigrant, who did not like to spend money frivolously; he could rub 2 nickels together to make a buck.
Paula provided dad with distractions such as sports and music. She would play the accordion for him while he sang along. Paula, my dad and I shared a love for hockey and soccer. We would watch games together and cheer on the maple leafs through good and bad… mostly bad, with little Lucy creating placards for their team!
I was the one who would fix or build things with him, although when I did … not that it was wrong, but dad would say there was always a better way. He taught me that anything was possible and would push me to be better.
Lucy provided reason and insight. They would have meaningful discussions about life and current affairs, as she would try to get him to see the other side of the argument by saying … but papa… and he would simply reply … “caala”!
Some of my favorite memories were spending Saturday nights as a child in the garage listening to The Leafs on the radio. With the sound and smell of wood crackling in the stove while we took something apart that was broken and found a way to Macgyver it back together. If it wasn’t quite right or if we were struggling with it, he would simply pause and say, “beveci sopra”… and we would get back to it the next day.
Dad always hoped for the best. We had a plaque hanging in our home that we bought together in Italy. It read:
Il possibile l’abbiamo già fatto L'impossibile lo stiamo facendo
Per i miracoli ci vuole un po di tempo
Dad loved bicycling and watching Giro d’Italia. Growing up, our bikes were hand built. He would find abandoned ones and bring them home. He taught me how to rebuild them… fix the brakes … repair the tires ... oil them and make it our own. Saturday morning trips to Canadian Tire or the local bike repair shop was a regular thing.
Dad’s cousin, Zio Peppino, recently told us about how our dad was one of the best cyclists in his hometown. This was because he always managed to win the slow bike races where the winner was the cyclist who was able to cross the finish line last, but only if their feet never touched the ground throughout the entire race. Our dad was able to balance himself on the bike throughout the race travelling the slowest of all the other riders. I remember watching in awe as a kid, dad showing me this in our back laneway, behind our garage, with one of the bikes we just rebuilt. Would you believe he would ride his bike in Italy with my mother sitting on the handlebars it in front of him!
Some fun memories with dad included: trips up to Wasaga Beach, camping in tents, and floating in tire tubes in the lake (because he was a terrible swimmer and could only dog paddle!) Dad had purchased land there and I remember building the essentials for a family getaway … a picnic table … an outhouse … and of course a bocce court in the middle of a forest. He would bring his hunting rifle to protect us and teach me how to shoot with it.
And then there were all the Italian traditions we experienced doing with dad growing up, which included the making of bottled tomatoes, sausages, pizzelle, and of course the wine! Along with the many wise “proverbi” from the old country that she shared with us.
Dad loved us and his grandkids and great grandchildren dearly. When his health still permitted it, he spoiled them with gelatos, and attended their countless recitals, games, etc. in order to watch and marvel at their talents. He also spend hours with his grandsons watching soccer and hockey.
Even in his later years, dad enjoyed telling us stories and recounting his experiences growing up in the
little town of Roccasicura where he was the happiest.
Later in life, dad’s love of Bingo started when he began going to the social club with his brother and cousin after Mom passed away. It continued when he transitioned to the Villa Da Vinci retirement home.
In the end, dad still had so much more to teach and so much more to learn....
Dad, we will miss you dearly!