Meana di Susa
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Meana di Susa is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Turin in the Italian region Piedmont, located about 50 km west of Turin. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 950 and an area of 17.7 km².
The village name is derived from its original Latin name of Mediana, signifying its location as the midpoint on the road from Paris to Rome. People of the village are known as Meanesi.
Each year on the Sunday closest to September 18, the village celebrates the feast of its patron saint, San Costanzo. The festival is centred on the parish church, Santa Maria Assunta. The festival also provides an opportunity for the community to honour the youth who are coming of age.
Emigration: With limited prospects for employment in the Susa Valley, young men and women began to migrate away the village in the late 19th century. For some, the destination was Marseilles in France, given as the place of birth in several delayed birth registrations, and given as the last place of residence for some passengers entering the United States through Ellis Island.
A few immigrants from Meana di Susa reached North America in the late 1890s, with a rather large number arriving between 1903 and 1914. Records from Ellis Island record approximately 400 passengers from Meana entering New York on their way to other destinations, although some were returning after a visit home. To a lesser extent, some immigrants entered North America through Canadian ports such as Quebec or Halifax, as well as some smaller U.S. ports.
According to passenger records, their main destinations were the Gravenhurst/Bracebridge/Huntsville area of Ontario; Toronto, Ontario; Welland/Port Colborne area of Ontario; The Seattle/Renton area of Washington State; San Francisco, California; New York City; Mellen Wisconsin, and several towns in Western Pennsylvania. Most of the first passengers were adult males, typically in their 20s or 30s. Many had wives in Italy. Most were joining a friend or relative, although in some cases the “friend” may have simply been a contact. The friend usually had a surname typical to Meana or to the region.
The passengers often travelled with someone else from Meana or one of the surrounding towns, notably Gravere.
The draw to Washington State and to Pennsylvania was work in the coal mines.
Those headed for Mellen Wisconsin and the Bracebridge/Huntsville area of north central Ontario were going to work in tanneries owned by the Shaw family, which actively recruited men in Meana and Gravere, first for the factory in Mellen and then for the Canadian faxtories.
Several of those who went to the Ontario tanneries later relocated to Detroit, Toronto, and the Niagara Peninsula, notably Welland.
Other tannery destinations included Acton Ontario, Munising Michigan, and Tomahawk Wisconsin.
In his book Italians in Toronto, Development of a National Identity 1875 to 1935 John Zucchi states that those from this region who went to Toronto were primarily employed in the catering and restaurant trades. Zuchhi in his book observed: A peasant in Meana or Gravere near Susa in 1910 realized sooner or later that working in a tannery in Acton or Bracebridge, Ontario or as a chef or waiter in Toronto was more remunerative than collecting chestnuts or fruit for export to France.
One result of emigration was a sharp drop in the birth rate. The civil records for Meana list 80 births in 1902, eight years later only 37 were born.
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fontsize:S pos:(20,20) text:Data from ISTAT
- All demographics and other statistics: Italian statistical institute Istat.
- Barabe, Joe. A Journey Into Mellen.
- Boon, Pat. La Nostalgia: Social and Cultural Traditions of Italians in Huntsville.
- Franco, Emile. Immigrants from Meana di Susa Italy who Entered Through New York
- Franco, Emile, From Meana to Canada, Huntsville Forester, December 23, 2003
- Jannon, Giorgio. Il sogno nella valigia. Storie e memorie di emigranti della valle di Susa fra '800 e '900.
- Patria, E. and Odiardi, W. Mediana: Storia Breve di Meana e dei Meanesi.
- Terzianno, Ed. The Little Town Band that Grew.
- Zucchi, John. Italians in Toronto: Development of a National Identity, 1875 -1935.