Neri married his wife Yolanda in 1948 and found that the political
atmosphere in Italy was unsettling.
King had abdicated,” Dr. Neri explains, “and there was
the threat of communism.”
he had never been involved in politics, Dr. Neri wanted to be somewhere
with less turmoil. He learned through his wife’s brother and
mother in Venezuela that there was a need for doctors in this South
American country. In 1948, the couple left for Venezuela where Dr.
Neri took up a post as a rural physician.
were primitive. The clinics were new but water was brought in buckets
on the shoulders of donkeys,” he recalls.
Venezuela, Dr. Neri celebrated the birth of his son John in 1949
and daughter Patricia in 1951. In order to make ends meet for his
growing family, Neri briefly switched careers to work for an American
drilling company. The job separated him from his family , but it
also gave him a chance to learn English from his co-workers.
workers were Venezuelan and the technicians were American, but there
was one Canadian,” Dr. Neri recounts. “He suggested
that Canada was in need of doctors and there could be a good life
idea settled itself quickly in Dr. Neri’s mind. In 1952, Dr.
Neri moved his young family to Canada, stopping off in New York,
Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa before deciding to settle in the latter.
Disliking large cities and seeing job opportunities in Canada’s
capital city, the family found Ottawa to be a perfect place for
to different countries and challenging his medical knowledge and
ability to adapt did not seem to hinder the young doctor.
doesn’t scare me. I’m a sucker for it. I can’t
resist it,” says Dr. Neri upon reflection and he smiles at
this new city he immediately began as an intern at the Civic Hospital
where he did everything from surgery to diagnosis.
I came to Ottawa, Carling was a little road with no paving. To get
to the hospital it would take half an hour or 40 minutes,”
Dr. Neri recalls.
second year in Canada saw Neri take up residence at then Grace Hospital
and become recognized by the College of Physicians and Surgeons
of Ontario. From there, Dr. Neri opened a private practice that
he worked at full-time until 1965. In Ottawa, Dr. Neri found an
Italian community that was large, active and tight-knit. He remembers
that Grace Hospital was only female and almost exclusively a maternity
hospital. With the young Italian-Canadian community there were many
deliveries to keep him busy.
of my hardest challenges was when I decided to leave my practice
because I was taking a completely different course," says Neri
"As a practitioner I was doing well but I was very busy. I
rarely saw my children. They were calling me ‘the stranger.’”