Antonio Lofaro was born in Campo Calabro, Calabria, a small town near Reggio Calabria. In 1955, his parents, Giovanni and Maria, like so many other Calabrese in post-war Italy, moved the family to Canada looking for a better life. Antonio was about 18 months when he arrived in Ottawa, his sister Lisa was three years old. The family lived in many areas of “Little Italy” before they settled on Laurel Street, where Maria still lives today.
Antonio went to St. Anthony’s School, followed by St. Agnes School, and then on to the newly-built High School of Commerce in 1967, Canada’s Centennial Year. It was there he developed an interest in writing, and wrote for the school newspaper. But actually, he got his love of writing from his mother. She wrote the most heart-felt, deep and sincere letters to her “Mama” back home. Antonio remembers seeing these letters written in long-hand, with beautiful long passages that covered every square inch of paper, down one side and up the next.
After high school, he attended Algonquin College and studied journalism. He was lucky enough to begin to freelance articles to The Ottawa Citizen. After seeing his first byline in the newspaper he was convinced journalism was the profession for him. The Citizen hired him as reporter in April 1976 and he has worked there for more than 35 years.
He later met the love of his life, Virginia and they were married in 1981 at St. Anthony’s Church. The couple have two wonderful sons, Anthony and Joseph. Last summer, Anthony married Maria-Francesca Cammisano, who is Sicilian and French Canadian, and a formerly from Montreal. Anthony is a field sales representative at Rogers Communications and Joseph is a reporter at Metro Ottawa newspaper.
Yes journalism runs in the family. Antonio has enjoyed a long and interesting career at The Citizen, writing about everything from crime to politics, sports and celebrity profiles. He has interviewed and met such famous stars as Paul Anka, Michael Buble, Celine Dion, Tom Jones, John Travolta, even Zucchero. On assignment for The Citizen he travelled to Italy to report on a documentary Anna Chiappa was researching on the 1943 crash of a RCAF plane in her hometown of Bardi (region of Emilia Romagna).
He also co-wrote the script for SOS Arandora Star, a TV-documentary about the sinking of the Italian ship by Germans during WWII. He published a biography on Ottawa native Dan Boyle, a star defenceman with the San Jose sharks, and edited a fitness book for Ann Aberg, the former wife of Paul Anka.
He has been close to Ottawa’s Italian community all his life, and has attended and written about its cultural and social events including Settimana Italiana, the Associazione Culturale Calabrese Savuto-Cleto’s Community Achievement Awards, CHIN Radio, and the Preston Street Arch. He has interviewed prominent Italians, including former Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli, celebrity hair stylist Rinaldo and Mario Giannetti of Preston Hardware. He has been a supporter of fundraising events of The Kidney Foundation, Villa Marconi and multiple sclerosis society of Canada.
Soccer and movies are among his many passions and he’s a big supporter of Juventus, a team he has followed since 1983. He was fortunate to attend the 1994 and 1998 World Cups where he cheered on his beloved Azzurri national team. He counts The Godfather and Cinema Paradiso as arguably, two of the best films ever made. He has returned to Italy five times, and also visited the quaint house in the town where he was born. One day he hopes to make it to the island town in the Azores (Portugal) where his wife Virginia was born.
As a reporter and resident he has seen Ottawa grow and develop into a thriving city. Ottawa, he believes, is a beautiful, friendly city with a lot to offer and it is the envy of many Canadians. And even today he still finds time to come down to Preston Street where he has family and many friends who operate businesses there. It’s a place he knows very well, and where he spent many wonderful years . For Antonio it will always feel like home.