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Galla Bakery







This digital collection was produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital Collections Initiative, Industry Canada.


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Working for the Community: The Gallas Embrace the Meaning of Family
By Giovanna Mingarelli
The presence of the Gallas here in Ottawa was marked by the arrival of Frank and Maria Galla almost 100 years ago in 1908. From their warm homeland of Calabria in Italy, the young couple came to North America searching for what most immigrants at the time were looking for – a place to start a happy life and raise a family. It is doubtful that the couple realized just how fruitful they would be in their endeavours.

The Gallas, still looking for a solid foundation to start their lives, lived in Pennsylvania, U.S., for approximately a year before hearing about a better opportunity to start their lives in Ottawa, Canada. Shortly after their arrival in Ottawa, the Gallas purchased a building at 597 Somerset (a building that remains to this day) and decided to live there permanently. They were blessed with six beautiful children. Five boys: Ross, Tony, Sam, Frank and Joe. And one girl, Anne.

In 1920, the doors to the first Galla Bakery opened.

“My family’s first adventure was opening the bakery,” says Anne, the only remaining child of the original Gallas here in Ottawa.

The Gallas closed the bakery on Somerset down and moved to Rochester Street, where they reopened and found immediate success. This time, all five of the brothers worked in the business and it became the main focus of their lives. They all remained bachelors for the larger portion of their lives until the bakery closed, at which point two of them married. All of the Galla sons lived beside one another on Rochester Street, next to the original family home.

“We never needed to worry about our neighbors,” says Anne. “We were all family and got along very well.”

The Galla family all worked together to make their business a success.


The family was so successful with their business that not long after the opening of the bakery on Rochester, Frank Galla Senior opened a grocery store next to the bakery. During the late thirties, a delivery service was established and the Gallas delivered to most of the Italians within the community, leaving them with fresh breads and other delicious goods.

At Galla Bakery’s prime, between the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, there were over 150 people working for the Gallas. After the Second World War, Ottawa received hundreds of immigrants, many of which were second and third cousins of the Gallas. Frank Galla Senior sponsored them with open arms and they too found employment within the family business. Other hard workers were welcomed into the business as well, creating many jobs for the immigrants.

“My family managed to build a strong and successful business with hard effort, attracting good people and then retaining good people,” stated Frank Galla Junior with pride.

With the passing of time, the Gallas took on more endeavours and soon were sponsoring a prominent amateur ball team. The team originally played at Commissioner Park (now known as Queen Juliana Park) until the Italian community came together to build the Booth Street Stadium. Many entertaining games were hosted.

However, the Gallas should not only be remembered for their incredible success with the business, but also for their involvement and support of St. Anthony’s Church. In particular Mrs. Galla, who looked after the church by having the clergy over for dinner, buying robes for the altar boys and supplying flowers for the altar. She donated a great deal to the church.

“My mother and father gave many donations to St. Anthony’s Church,” recalls Anne. “My mother especially. We didn’t know how much she had done for the community until after she died.”

Mrs. Galla had preferred to not boast about her support of the church, as she did not consider it necessary. She was a very private person.

The 1960’s saw the closing of the Galla Bakery and the beginning of new lives for everyone in the Galla family. To the great sorrow of many, Frank Galla Senior and Maria Galla both passed away in the late fifties. The bakery became too small to maintain the ever-growing business and had to be closed.

“It [the bakery] had simply outgrown its capacity,” said Frank Galla Junior.
Frank Galla Jr. and his father Frank Sr. at the family run Galla Bakery.

Soon after, land predominately owned by the Italians was expropriated by the city. Everything changed for the Gallas and many in the community.

“We were a very close family. We all stuck together, until all of us got separated. It wasn’t what we wanted at all,” Anne says with a sigh.

Many argue that things were never the same in the Italian community after the expropriation. The tightly knit community that they had once cherished, they felt, had fallen apart.

However, not all was lost. Anne, now the sole remainder of the original Gallas in Canada, still has a great deal to be happy about. She bore four children – Vincent, Tony, John and Barbara – all of who are very happy with their lives. She was also blessed with ten grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Anne took after her mother and volunteers at St. Anthony’s Church.

It’s heartwarming to know that Anne has lived such a long life full of such happiness and vitality. She cherishes the many memories that made her life so happy.

“Some of my best memories of the bakery were keeping the family together,” Anne remembers with a smile. “My brothers were very close… we were all very close.”

Though she could never reinvent the close community that she once cherished, Anne feels as though the Italian community in Ottawa is finally coming together again.

Through difficult and happy times, an incredibly successful business and expropriation, the Gallas have continued to strive in achieving happiness through hard work and broadening the Italian community. They will certainly be a cherished and remembered family in the Italian community for many years to come.

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