Stories of St. Anthony’s School


Licari Family

Raffaele and Concetta Licari lived on Balsam St. in Little Italy.  They raised eight children--Florence, Mary, Josephine, John, Barbara, Frank, Diane and Ralph - all of whom attended St. Anthony’s School.  Our family spent some 60 years being educated at St. Anthony’s.  We have fond memories of teachers Sister Mary Ida, Sister Eleanor, Miss Carioto, Miss Chenier, Mrs. Wallace, Miss Gillhouly, Miss Jarden, Mr. Lundy, Sister Bertha and Mrs. Simpson who ruled with an iron hand, smacking students with a large pointer stick.

Licari family 001

Sister Mary Ida assigned John the task of cutting the grass at the all-girls Immaculata High School on Bronson.  For John, being allowed on school grounds with all the girls would have been compensation enough, but for his efforts he was also rewarded with cookies and milk.  For all the good John did, he was also a bit of a disturber.  He disrupted the class frequently and sometimes found himself being disciplined by having to sit under the teacher’s desk.

Frank loved sports and his fondest memories are his involvement in St. Anthony’s school teams.  He excelled in hockey and softball and this set the foundation for the many sports he played in high school and beyond.  In class, he got the strap often.  On one occasion he came home with a very swollen hand.  When his father found out what he had done, he received another smack – this one on the side of the head!

Not all the Licari children were enamoured with St Anthony’s - at least, not at the outset.  Ralph’s mother, Concetta, accompanied him on his first day of school.  There, she left him in the line for the kindergarten class.  He wasn’t happy and ran home crying.  Mom was not impressed and brought him right back to school.

Fortunately for St Anthony’s, the Licari girls were much more studious and more well behaved than the boys. They were model students and were loved by all their teachers.  After school, Florence, Mary and Josephine continued their studies by taking Italian classes.

St Anthony’s school holds many fond memories for the Licari’s.  Truth be told, we can’t accurately remember them all - it was such a long time ago!!  Still, the school is very dear to our hearts as the foundation of our education.  The Italian influence was a pillar in our childhood, and something that our entire family is proud of.  Happy 90th Anniversary to St. Anthony’s School.

Florence, Mary, Josephine, John, Frank Barbara, Ralph, Diane Licari Family 1940/50–St. Anthony


Italo Tiezzi

My ties with this school date back to its founding since my father, Gino Tiezzi and Luisa Guadagni, were teachers of “italien à l’école Academie Dante” until it changed to the English Catholic system.

Italian classes continued in the evenings to 1939.  My brother, Silvio  was in the advanced class taught by my father while I attended the primary class taught by one of my dad’s students, Lena Guzzo (Cuccaro).

Gino Rosa and Ada Tiezzi St Anthony's Silvio Tiezzi and Tony

.My first grade teacher was Sister Anne of the Cross. She was the perfect grade one teacher. I liked her so much that I sat at the front of the class nearest the door which meant that I would be the door boy. In those days, my mother, Rose and her friend Assunta Zuana were collecting eggs for the St. Patrick’s Orphanage and of course, when they came to the classroom door, I had to let them in.  It was my first embarrassing moment: letting my mother into my class. Sister Anne had us sing “Little Robin Red Breast, sitting in a tree…”

Grade Two: Dorothea McDonnell was not only our teacher but also the music teacher. She later became the Music Supervisor for the Catholic School Board, taking Mrs. O’Neil’s place.

Miss Grant was the fifth grade teacher who read to us the entire novels: “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott and “Ann of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Miss Grant was obviously a feminist of sorts but in retrospect it wasn’t bad for us boys in the class because we probably would never read these classics on our own.

Miss Frances Godin, teacher of the sixth grade, loved my compositions. She told me that the one in which I was obliged to give up my pet horse (?) because we were moving to an apartment made her cry. Miss Godin had a picture of a handsome military man on her desk. My envy dissipated when I found out it was her brother who was overseas. That was the year I was president of the Junior Red Cross and the first of a number of  presidencies in my life.

Sister Bertha was the principal in my time up to grade seven. She was a strict disciplinarian with a great heart and great devotion to the students’ wellbeing.

She was a believer in sports and had a hockey team formed for the school.

She entered Silvio in a public speaking contest. I sat next to her during the contest. I watched her twisting her ring nervously as the speeches were given.  Later, the inspector for the Catholic Schools told Sister Bertha that Silvio was the best but they could not give him the prize because his father was interned as an enemy alien. (Wrongly, as has been acknowledged by the Canadian Government).

Interestingly, the CBC put on a series of school programs regarding the war effort. Dante was assigned: Poland.  Silvio took the part of a young Pole and I remember his voice coming out of the radio: “Poland will live again!”

The school yard was divided into two parts: the boys’ side and the girls’ side and woe to anyone who crossed it.  We had to line up in perfectly straight lines before entering or re-entering the school.

Sister Bertha would allow a snowball fight once during the winter.  It was an event to which we all awaited anxiously, well, almost all, I didn’t. I always got hit.

The kids from Cambridge School would call our school “the banana school”.  We just thought they were dumb.

Sister Frances Maurice was my grade eight teacher.  She took the place of Sister Bertha.  She was intent on teaching us Scottish folk songs. One, “The Tangle of the Isle” had its lyrics changed by a couple of the boys at the back of the classroom. Sister’s hearing was not perfect but she made it clear that someone was not singing the proper words as many pupils giggled.

Dante Academy, with its creaky wooden floors, smelling of coal oil on cleaning days was a true learning institution with close connections to the church across Gladstone Avenue. Many of the boys would serve at Mass before class in the morning.

These are just a few thoughts about Dante Academy. Fondly remembered. Italo Tiezzi.


Cliff Foley

Four children pictured at the bottom of a globe, each from a different culture. The motto “ We Help Each Other” printed under the picture of the children, in hopes of capturing the essence of St. Anthony’s School.

How did St. Anthony’s School come to be symbolized by this crest and motto?  Hopefully, by the time you read this, you will have a clearer understanding of its significance.

There is a well accepted saying which reminds us that, “It takes a whole village to educate a child”.  This is where the story begins …………

Cliff Foley

        When it became obvious to the staff that very few students in this ‘inner city school” had the opportunity to play organized sports or take music, dance, karate lessons, etc., the staff decided that they would do something. The intent was to assist the St. Anthony’s students (mostly New Canadians) gain experiences so they would be on the same “level playing field” as most of their peers, who lived in other communities. The local Catholic School (St. Anthony) and the local Public School (Cambridge), joined forces to lobby for After School Programs for their students. With the help of the Somerset West Community Health Centre, Trustees of both Catholic and Public School Boards, Principals, Teachers, Parents, United Way, Stephen Greenberg from Osgoode Developments, J. and M. Walkley Restaurant, Fund Raiser Products, and the Canadian Italian Association, we acquired enough donations to offer the program. Students paid $1.00 a week to participate in After School Programs consisting of Reading Club, Dance Club, Arts and Crafts, Sports, Storytellers Club, Science Explorers, Gymnastics Club, Cooking Club, Homework Club, Girl Guides and Wado Kai Karate Club.  With the help of some very dedicated volunteers, an average of 160 students participated in these programs, on a weekly basis, which lasted for 15 years.

For those of us who worked at St. Anthony’s in the 90’s, we inherited a Breakfast Club, which was founded by previous staff. Research shows that if children have a good breakfast, they are more likely to be more attentive during the early school hours. With the help of the Ottawa Carleton Learning Foundation, United Way, and the Catholic School Board, we were able to continue this Program.

Approximately 40 to 50 students came to school early and were offered toast, juice, milk, etc. from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.  Often some staff members would join them to make everyone feel at home.

In addition, the May Court Food Box Program provide the school with nutritious snacks for those younger students who forgot theirs.

With so many New Canadians attending, we opened a Clothing Exchange Room, which was meant to assist those who were not as well prepared for our harsh winters. Staff donations, and donations from the Kiwaniannes Club helped start the program. An anonymous donor provided us with an extremely large amount of new Gap clothes, semi-annually for four years, and so this room was able to assist many families.

In the mid nineties Big Brothers of Ottawa, Xerox, Ottawa Carleton Learning Foundation and St. Anthony’s School formed a partnership to explore and develop a program called an In-School Mentoring Program.  The intent was to match 12 trained employees from Xerox with 12 students attending our After School Program in order to open the doors to helping students who really needed some positive affirmation, at this point in their lives. Twenty years later, this Mentoring Program is still offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters at St. Anthony’s School, as well as in many of our Ottawa Schools and has helped hundreds of students believe in their abilities

In the Spring of 95, with the help of the Somerset West Community Centre and the Ottawa Carleton Health Department,  we were able to have the St. Anthony’s students participate in the Child to Child Project. It was based on the concept that  children can be taught how to use their Community Resources and in turn teach other New Canadian Children and their parents, what they learned. It seeks to build partnerships between children, adults and the community. In essence, children became agents of change in their families and communities.

If you believe in yourself you can do anything. The problem is before you believe in yourself, someone has to believe in you.  With this in mind the teachers at St. Anthony’s tried to be as positive as possible with their students. In addition the Parent-Teacher Council sponsored our Student Of The Week Program. The intent was to catch a student doing something good and reward their role modeling. In essence we looked for a student who showed really good effort, a good speller, a good helper, etc.  Their names were printed in the weekly newsletter and they were provided coloured crayons, pens, pencils, skipping ropes, balls, etc. The idea was to provide them with awards they could use as well as create an opportunity to make them feel good about themselves.

Another activity which the Parent Council supported was with the Picture Program. This consisted of taking pictures of as many students as possible throughout the year and displaying them on the school walls. At the end of the year these pictures were placed in the student’s report cards to bring home as souvenirs of their school year.

In order to assist us with the large number of New Canadians who did not have the advantage of being read to at home, the Kiwaniannes provided us with a Literacy Program. Once a month, a student from every class was chosen to go to the National Book Services Store to choose a book of their choice. This program opened up a lot of “teachable moments” in our aim to show students the importance of reading.

Other “helpers” at St. Anthony’s School were the Neighbourhood Alert Committee which greatly helped build a safer community, Volunteers Sharing in Education Program which provided a host of volunteers, Katimavik Program, Christmas Basket Donations, Annual Variety Show which showcased some awesome talent, Knights of Columbus, Willow Street Angels, Algonquin Internships and Co-op Programs.

If you were to ask teachers what their favorite part of teaching at St. Anthony’s was , they would unanimously say that it was the STUDENTS.  The school was very multi-cultural and the students were extremely welcoming to each other. It was a pleasure working with such delightful and diverse students who were always very thankful for the many learning opportunities that they were offered.

It really does take a village to educate a child.  In the 90’s,  St. Anthony’s School averaged approximately 250 students a year and had approximately 187 students who spoke a language other than English or French at home.

Special Thanks to the  over 100 “villagers“ who so graciously assisted the St. Anthony’s students from 1991 to 1997. Each of these individuals, in one way or another,  genuinley touched the lives of the St. Anthony’s students in the 90’s.

Anne Louise Andrade, Elizabeth Arnold, Shirley Atkins, Flo Barclay, Iris Baxter, Anik Bergevin, Francine Berube, Patricia Blackburn, Faye Bolton, Kim Bou, George Bouliane, Dennis Boucher, Kara Boyce, Michel Brisbois, Father Marcel Brodeur, Alicia Broomfield, Ana Brown, Lise Doire-Campeau, Bernita Capstick,  Sister Rosetta Carlabro, Nicole Causely, Marie Claire Carpentier, Isabelle Caruana, Cecila Buchanan, Fran Campeau, Irene Chahley, Judy Cogan, Gerry Cousineau, Sylvie Delisle, Louise Deslauriers, Barbara Dombrowolski, John Dorner, Leslie Faraday, Kathy Farquhar, Leonie Diks, Angelo Filoso, Claire Fox, Gail Gall, Chantal Gingras, John Kelly, Elizabeth Knowles, Theresa Gardner, Sheila Gifford, Tim Gilmour, Lynn Grandmaitre, Linda Groulx, Diane Holmes, Debbie Hurry,  Angela Ierullo, Joanne Jazzar, Victor Lacroix, Betts Lalonde,  Trudy Lang, Sue Larocque, Joan Laurin, Peggy Letts, Jennifer Long, Cathy Lortie, Antonietta Mariani, Rosemary Marshall, Nimet Mawji, Leslie McCarthy, Linda Niksic, Christine McGee, Nora McKnight, Michael Murray, Nicole Myre, Danielle Neron-Baril, Mike O’Neill, Jean-Yves Paul, Marjorie Phalen, Patricia Pizzoferrato, Don Quellette, Richard Quellette, Natalka Rueben, Jack Sammon, Sharon Sammon, Theresa Kelly-Sayers, Tony Schrankler, Peter Scott, Maureen Smith, Jean-Marie Stewart, Beth Stringer, Maureen Sullivan, Jean-Claude St. Fort,  Sister Emilia Testa, Mrs. Vispo, Martha Walsh, Carolyn Watson, Lee Watson, Keenan Wellar, Shirley Wenkoff,  Marie West, Sally Whiteley, Barbara Wright, and Becky Wright.

(Sincere apologies to any that were missed, there were so many of you).

At St. Anthony’s School, we really did and continue to “Help Each Other”

Cliff Foley


Ermilina Mancini

We landed at Pier 21 on a cold and drizzly March morning in 1961.  “OK” was the first English word I learned and I heard it often.  I was seven years old, the oldest of four siblings at the time.  Two more would join the family by the time I was nine.

Ermilina Mancini 003 Passport Photo

I was enrolled at St. Anthony’s and was put in Mrs. McDonald’s grade 1 class.  Technically, I should have been in grade two but because I did not speak English, I was put in the lower grade.  Half-way through, I was moved to Miss Zanetti’s grade two class.

Ermilina Mancini Report Card-1

Ermilina Mancini Report Card-2

I had already made my First Communion and Confirmation in Italy so I sat patiently while those in my class prepared to receive these sacraments.  We were taught the Act of Contrition and I learned by rote, which means basically “the mechanical repetition of something so that it is remembered, often without real understanding of its meaning or significance”.  And so it was that I judiciously went to confession every Saturday at St. Anthony’s church and when the priest would absolve me of my sins and ask me to recite the Act of Contrition, I did so fervently… “Oh my God, I am hardly sorry for having offended Thee…  The word was supposed to be “heartily” as you might have guessed, but that’s not what I heard and so I went through most of my youth basically telling God that I didn’t give a rat’s ass for having displeased Him.

In grade three my teacher Miss Lazinsky was so impressed with my cursive writing that I won a picture Bible for my efforts.  I do remember that Ross Talarico won for the boys.  We were also asked to come to school dressed in our First Communion clothes for picture-taking day and my mom wouldn’t let me – she thought I was trying to pull a fast one on her because I loved wearing that beautiful white dress on special occasions.  As it was, I was the only one who showed up not wearing a white dress so Miss Lazinsky improvised by asking one of the other girls in the class to lend me her stole.  I was moved from the front row to the back of the row so that only my upper body was visible and no one was the wiser when the photo was taken.

Ermilina Mancini 001

In Mrs. Fraser’s grade five class I remember learning all about the explorers – Marco Polo, Vasco de Gama, Magellan, etc.  I also remember the Italians in the class cracking up when we learned about the Bella Coola River and Lake Titicaca.  I broke my right wrist in grade five – slipped on the pavement in the schoolyard. (It’s a good thing they’re fixing that yard!!)  I tried to get out of writing exams because I couldn’t write with my left hand but Mrs. Fraser would hear none of it.

I nearly got the strap once by Mrs. Wallace, but she spared me because I was shaking like a leaf.  It all started when that dreaded recess bell rang – the brass bell that dangled from her hand out the second storey window at St. Anthony’s School.  You had to freeze in place when you heard the first peals of the bell.  And freeze I did – right where I wasn’t supposed to be – high up on the cement embankment that surrounded the school and held the chain link fence in place.  I guess I thought it would be a good idea to walk up it;  it was on an incline, and it got steeper the higher up you went.  I was at its highest point when the bell rang – I had no concept of time and had no idea that recess was about to end.  So there I was up at the very top of the embankment and I stood still when that first bell rang and Mrs. Wallace perused the entire yard turning her gaze this way and that way and I stuck out like sore thumb high above the ground and she pointed her finger at me  and said “You, into my office.”  Well I had found it easy getting up there, but I looked down and I was awfully high up and that’s when I realized I was afraid of heights and so I started to cry and my feet wouldn’t move and she asked me again to come down and I couldn’t.  So the janitor had to come with his ladder and rescue me and I spent the afternoon crying in Mrs. Wallace’s office, wondering when the strap would come, but it never did.  Whew!

Ermilina Mancini 002

Grade six in Mrs. Harmony’s class was spent at St. Dominic’s because there was no room at St. Agnes to accommodate everyone.  Grade seven we got bussed to St. Conrad’s, again due to lack of space.  Finally, in Grade eight we spent the year at St. Agnes.  We started rotating class to get us ready for high school but that didn’t quite work out so our teachers -- Miss Latendresse, Mrs. Casselman and Mr. Gallant rotated instead.  What an awesome trio.

These are some of my fondest memories.

Ermelinda (Mancini) Whiting


Joe Pavia

It was the end of grade 8 and my last week at St. Anthony’s before the new experience of St. Pat’s High School the following September.

Mrs. Rangongo was our grade 8 teacher and a great role model and teacher.

In any case there was to be an awards ceremony in the church hall where graduates were going to receive various prizes for achievements that year and most students were going to get diplomas.

The room was  abuzz as all the parents were in attendance.

Joe Pavia 001

Finally the names were read out and each kid walked to the front of the church hall to either receive a diploma or a special gift in recognition of the specific skill they excelled at.

About 20 kids received these awards but my name was never called.

I feared that I wouldn’t receive anything even though I felt I was a pretty good student.

Well by the time the principal announced the last award category for best student in grade 8, I had lost any hope of receiving anything. I didn’t think I was best student material.

Well I just about peed my pants when my names was announced as the best student in grade 8 and I was called to the front.

I received a diploma and a book called “An Otter’s Story”.

To this day otters are my favourite animal and St. Anthony’s gave me one of my fondest memories.