My grandfather Antonio Stefani and his wife residing in Bolognana had 9 children, one of whom died in the war, the family was a lot, the misery also; my father was a carabiniere, the only remedy at that time, was emigration so 2 sons decided to go to America, the 5 daughters instead decided to join the "Brides by Proxy." Many men emigrated to English Canada (Columbia) where everything was still wild, in fact there were still Indian villages and bears roaming the woods and these men who worked in the mines, had asked to be able to have an Italian wife and marry her by proxy. So it was that so many women joined and the brides' ship left, the journey was long and painful because of leaving their homeland and as they were leaving Italy, they thought about the man they would find, whom they barely knew only from some faded photos, but strong was the hope for a better life. These things they told me when a few years ago we decided to visit our cousins and left with my family and my cousin Fernando from Bolognana with his wife.

The journey lasted about 20 hours and when we arrived there were a lot of people waiting for us, here were the Italians they said, and they all spoke our language, and they all wanted to tell, to tell especially those women who when they arrived had given themselves as brides by proxy to those unknown men.

They told their stories, that at first they had been uncomfortable porche houses were not there, so that they had to sleep in cellars: There were not even roads however they had hope in their hearts that work in the mines and a few extra jobs could give them a better future.

They took us to see the mines the first houses made out of tree trunks, they seemed happy with their men they had begun to love amidst sacrifice and hardship Now everyone was fine and we were like their prisoners , because they never left us and were constantly telling us about what had now been the past and always brought us little gifts: salmon, sweets, invitations to dinner, they competed to show us everything they had made and we followed them, they took us to the hospital and to a big plant where they processed the minerals they extracted from the mines, coal, copper, iron, silver, gold and we also felt very proud because Italians in the world never disappointed.

Gallicano December 23, 2003

Cesarina Baldacci