Domenic Rampone: The story of an important family

by Augusto Oriani

By now, winter is upon us, a nostalgic thought goes to the summer that has just abandoned us. Wonderful fruits that we would be forced to find on the market stalls next summer, especially cherries, a wonderful and wonderful fruit, just think that, said Jacques Prévert, French poet and screenwriter “Life is a cherry – death is his stone – love is a cherry tree. ”

In the Okanagan Valley, we can find really wonderful cherries, of course, we can find many quality ones. In this region, we find a wonderful lake surrounded by vineyards, orchards and marvellous cultivated fields. A landscape that looks a lot, in my opinion, to our lakes in particular to from Lombardy ones. Here we can find the Rampone family, one of the many Italian families with multiple sacrifices and self-denial has shown how important Italian work is in the world.

The adventure of the Rampone family began in 1893 when Domenic’s great-grandfather Luigi emigrated to Kelowna BC, from Frinco d’Asti (in Piedmont) .Frinco is a small town that has crops similar to those Giovanni Casorso emigrated to Kelowna in 1883, after which, he wrote a letter to his dear friend Luigi Rampone in Frinco d`Asti, saying that the Canada where he had emigrated had many opportunities for agriculture, in letter specified that people were very friendly and very selfless, ready to help others.

Luigi had a great passion for agriculture, but the farms that Frinco d’Asti had were limited, and he could not grow all the best products. Luigi made up his mind and went to Canada, naturally by ship, a long and exhausting journey, we must think that in those days, the ships were not like our cruisers. He landed on Ellis Island in New York.

He then headed to Montreal, then boarded a CPR train (certainly it was not a Frecciarossa with all the comforts) he arrived in Vernon after 5 days, so here too an exhausting and stressful journey, but his journey was not over yet, why he had to take a steamship from Vernon to Kelowna (on Okanagan Lake).

Luigi just arrived and started working for a few years with his friend Giovanni and also for the Family day (another pioneer family).

Archive photo Domenic’s grandfather , his brother-in-law Antonio Borgnetta, and Valentino Luigi’s father

He later bought a farm in Gordon Dr., growing vegetables, then became a major onion producer. In 1919, he made $ 19,000.00 from the local packing center, a fabulous income for that time.

The Rampone’s had a great relationship with the local Indigenous Community (Westbank First Nations), farming and fishing as good neighbours and sharing recipes from two different cultures it was an awesome friendship then and continues today.

In 1904 he called his two sons Domenico and Camillo who came to him and started working with their father. Camillo remained in Canada but Domenico returned to Italy to marry his Giuseppina, and then the First World War, he spent years fighting and injured himself and spent a long period of convalescence in the hospital, but he remained lame throughout his life. Then, after the First World War, Domenico and Giuseppina emigrated to Kelowna.

The great-grandfather Luigi had a bit of nastiness and that’s why his wife didn’t want to follow him to Kelowna. They didn’t see each other again, his daughter Giuseppina came a few months and didn’t want to live with her father and returned to Italy. Luigi sent money to his wife every month so that he could build a beautiful villa in Frinco (which can still be seen today) Luigi has always been willing to try different things. Luigi died in 1933 in Kelowna and his wife Melina died the same year in Frinco.

The Rampone family grew onions, apples, pears, grapes, melons, corn and every other type of vegetable, and for about 20 years they grew tobacco and were members of the British North America Tobacco Company and BNTC and produced around 800,000 cigars a year. The crampons then became breeders, and later producers of dairy products, achieving great success

In the 1930’s Rampone’s shipped what they called at the Winnipeg Greens (tomatoes) and they were green to Winnipeg.

In the 1960, Uncle Albert became an award-winning alfalfa grower. Camillo Rampone and his two sons became the largest growers of Anjou pears in Canada. In 50 years, the Rampone family has shipped tons and tons of peppers, tomatoes and aubergines to Italian families throughout Western Canada.

Domenic had 3 children Valentino, Albert and Palmina, Camillo had 7 children Louis, Ernie, Dora, Irene, Alfred, Rita and Angelina. The Rampone was giving them a chance in Canada and they took it and they were also proud of their Italian heritage and very proud of Canada which gave them a chance to enhance their passion for agriculture.

Domenic married Lina (born in Direnzo) whose family came from Celano, Abruzzo, 4 children and 8 grandchildren and are very proud of them. Domenic lingers by saying that his grandchildren are the sixth generation of Italians in Kelowna. Luigi is currently employed as a sales representative for West Manufacturing Ltd (steel and aluminum manufacturer), business development manager for International Coliseums9, they build Ice Arenas in North America) and also a national sales representative for Jealous Fruits, the largest producer of sweet cherries in Canada, you can check the website www.jealousfruits.com

Domenic is on the Board of Directors of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and the Okanagan Historical Society-Kelowna Branch. Member of the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club and of the Western Canada-Italian Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the Kelowna City Agriculture Advisory Committee.

Domenic Rampone is one of the most important Italian-Canadian Businessman, for us Italians is an example and a lustre, since 1893 the whole Rampone family has always had Italy as one of their priorities, and to feel truly Italian.

I thank Domenic Rampone for his availability and cordiality!

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