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Home > People > Rose Licari Lalande
Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother: The Proud Store of Rose Licari Lalande
By Louise Daniels
Images of seven happy couples on their wedding day adorn two bookshelves beside a small organ in Rose Lalande’s tidy living room. A picture depicting a crowd of young children sits on an end table beside her flower-print couch. These are all photographs of her 17 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. (One more child will be added to the total in June.)

Also adorning her house is a foil “Happy Birthday” balloon still floating in Lalande’s dining room. It’s left over from her 85th birthday party on April 16.

Rose Licari Lalande gave birth to seven children in the years between 1932 and 1957. If this does not impress you, then you should also know that she took care of three more children while her husband Marcel served in the military in 1960, during the Vietnam War in Saigon.

Her children: Elaine, Gail, Linda, Gary, Debbie, Sandra and Brenda were all born and raised in Ottawa. Today they have all had children of their own and most of them still live within the Italian community.

Lalande has a true fondness of family life and comes from a family of six herself.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My family to me is everything,” she says.

With tears in her eyes, she explains the indescribable feelings that accompany being a great-grandmother in such a close family. “When I sit back and think of my days with my children. When I see my children with their children, and their children with children, it just gets to me, it hits me.”

This energetic mother says that her secret in motherhood was her love of housework and keeping busy. She says this is what made it so easy for her to raise all those children. “I didn’t find it hard, because I loved housework,” she says. “I washed and ironed steady, I used to love it.”

The energy must have rubbed off on her children because Lalande says that when her children were young, “they were never idle. They always found a little job to do. Always. They were really, really good kids. They weren’t the lazy type.”


For nine years, Lalande and her family lived in a one-bedroom apartment.
“We had three children in the bunk bed, the little baby was beside me in the bed and Elaine, my oldest daughter, slept on the chesterfield in the living room,” she says.

For nine years, during the 1940’s and 1950’s, Lalande and her family lived in a one-bedroom apartment with five children.

“We had three children in the bunk bed, the little baby was beside me in the bed and Elaine, my oldest daughter, slept on the chesterfield in the living room,” she says.

Every Saturday night, after all the children had taken a bath and gone to bed, Lalande would get all their clothes ready for mass in the morning and shine their shoes for church.

“But I warned them: ‘today is Sunday, don’t you dare get dirty.’ They knew what they were supposed to do.”

She kept herself busy at home and after 27 years of marriage she took a job binding books at the National Printer.

“It was great getting out,” Lalande says. “It’s funny. At first I felt guilty going to work and leaving the family but the kids said: ‘why do you feel guilty mom? We’re here.’ Oh they were all wonderful.”

Lalande is also proud that she earned some extra money by looking after those extra three children while her husband was away.

“When my daughter Elaine got married all my daughters were old enough to be flower girls. I had enough money to get them dressed, and I had this seamstress make all their dresses,” she says. “It just made me feel so good that I saved that money.”

Mother’s Day has always been a big celebration in her family. Everyone usually gets together at one of her children’s houses for a feast. Lalande never knows exactly what is going to happen because “they always do little sneaky things behind me and then everything appears in front of me,” she says. “I don’t know what’s coming up so I just stay put.”

She remembers her first Mother’s Day fondly. She and her sister-in-law were going to take her mother-in-law out for lunch downtown.

“Don’t I forget my purse at home, and my sister-in-law didn’t have enough on her, so my mother-in-law paid for the Mother’s Day lunch…we laughed so much about that.”

Lalande’s family is very close and they often get together for many different occasions such as birthdays and Christmas holidays. For example at Lalande’s 85th birthday party, Lalande explains laughing, that there were so many people that “it looked like a funeral parlour in here, there were so many flowers.”

Thirty people packed into the three-bedroom condominium to wish her well on her birthday.

Her whole family also gets together every year for a Christmas exchange. They rent a large hall and have a party, even Santa Claus comes.

“I played Santa Claus one time. My daughter Sandra helped me get dressed and I had the whole outfit, the boots and all. I came down and one of the children said ‘I knew it was you Nanna because of the way you laughed,’” Lalande chuckles and continues, “They knew right away it was me.”

There is yet another First Communion and a Confirmation coming up in May and in June her family is planning another get together. There will be a baby shower for the 10th great-grandchild in the party room of her apartment building in Nepean.

“It’s amazing how the time flies. Every year there’s something,” she says.

Lalande cares about her family very much and they also show how much they care about her. In early April, Lalande was at a meeting for the Ladies Aid group at St. Anthony’s Church and her daughter and sister came to bring her and her friends a birthday treat.

“They come in and they had sandwiches, they had a party for everybody,” she says. “I didn’t know a thing about it. They had a vegetable platter, they had pickles and they had everything.”

For now, Lalande just takes each day as it comes. Every day she says her prayers and thanks God for her family.

“I’m living the good life and I’m enjoying my life with my family. I’m really enjoying it.”

This article was originally published in the May 2002 issue of Il Postino.
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