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Tony Alloggia





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


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Tony Alloggia

Tony Alloggia, my father, was born in the town of Camarda, l'Aquila in the region of Abruzzo, Italy. At the age of 3, he left with his parents to move to the town of Charleroi in Belgium where they lived for a year before immigrating to Ottawa. He grew up in the New Edinburgh neighbourhood where he attended New Edinburgh Public School. As a teenager, he attended Ottawa Tech high school where he met many of his good friends. After high school, he went to Carleton University where he received a Bachelor's degree in math and sciences and where he met Anita. They took an Italian class together. My father obviously didn't take the class seriously as he often copied my mom's homework. They eventually got married in 1977 and ten years later they had twins. He was a civil servant in the RCMP for over 30 years.

What can I say about my father? Obviously the attendance here today speaks for itself. First and foremost he was devoted to his family. He constantly reminded my sister and I that our three most important priorities at the moment are school, school, and school. We took trips together to Italy almost every summer where he took us sightseeing and was our personal tour guide. At the beach he would take us snorkelling and in the mountains he took us hiking. Even in Canada he would often take my sister and me to Gatineau where we would take nature walks. Travelling with my father always took ten times longer than it should since he would stop every two seconds to take pictures of us, or a church, or a panoramic scene, or flowers, you get the idea. When my sister and I were in school, he would make sure that if we had any problems he would help us with homework, especially with math and science. In fact, he was able to help me all the way to first year engineering, and then he said, "You're on your own kid", obviously still helping with moral support. When my sister decided to go study in Italy, he wasn't thrilled at first, but once he got used to the idea he didn't waste an opportunity to boast about how his daughter studying in Italy. Last fall he accompanied my sister on a two-day road trip to Amiens, France where my sister was pursuing a study abroad program in languages. At that point, my father was really beaming with pride. After a few days, my mother joined them and together they travelled around France. My father couldn't stop talking about how bad the road signs were. My dad also liked cooking, often creating conflicts when he and my mom were in the kitchen together. However, he loved my mom very much, even when she nagged him about procrastinating for things he didn't enjoy doing. When my mom was in Italy, he always made sure that I ate well, asking me first thing in the morning what I wanted for dinner. My father was surrounded by two loving parents, Giovanni and the late Berardina, his sisters, Maria and Lucia, and his brother, Raffaele. My father did everything in his power to make sure that Fabiana and I grew up with a sense of respect for others and teaching us morals and values.

My father had many interests. He was a very cultured man, a walking encyclopaedia. He knew everything about everything and didn't miss an opportunity to lecture us about history, philosophy, politics, art, anything that he thought would fill our brains with knowledge. He was constantly reading books and he had the amazing ability to retain everything he learned. He sometimes couldn't remember where he left his wallet or cell phone, or I'd come home and notice the house keys still in the lock of the door, but he could recite a book that he read twenty years earlier. He loved photography. I don't even know how many weddings and events he photographed. I'm sure many of you here today had your wedding photographed by him. He always brought cameras and lenses wherever he went. He loved music. We must have several thousand records sitting somewhere in boxes. He taught himself classical guitar many years ago and then taught himself to play the piano. He played even when it was time for bed and my mom always gave him an earful. Music was one of the things he had in common with my girlfriend Milena, whom he loved very much. My father was also a very active member of the Italian community.


To learn and come to understand Tony, now that he is gone, is through stories. His actions and deeds speak loudly of his persona and the measure of the man that he was.

Recollection of Tony, Our Friend

Tony, my friend, our friend, great plans were germinating as we dwelled on the adventures in retirement. A new era to romp in, with unlimited possibilities. But it lasted for too short a time. It seems that God has other plans for you, and for us without you.

Tony at Tech

As we, who believe to be your closest friends, reminisce, it seems that when you barged into our circle back in grade ten at Ottawa Tech, our neat little structure broke up in chaos. Had we taken the time, we could have written great papers on the potential of the human mind when it is in dis-array. Entropy lives on! And Tony, for us, you were the first "outside-the-box" thinker. You were definitely the philosopher amongst us. And for this reason, you were like gluons that hold the nucleus of atoms together, a gooey, non-intrusive glue that, no matter what happened, kept us bonded over the time of your life.

As we got to know you, we didn't find it strange seeing you one morning, in sandals and shaved head, walking down Slater Street carrying a 12-foot dead tree. Over, the next few weeks, as we prepared for the production of the play, Godot, we knew that you, above all, were fully in tune with existentialist thought and stream of consciousness and you saw and felt what most never do. Along with your musical talents, you brought to the delight of the audience, other plays, including some that you wrote, to the stage.

Too bad that you couldn't bring similar talents to help our school on the field. A soccer player you were not! No matter, you had many other talents. For most of the high school years you were king of briscola and a pretty good chess player.

Thanks to Prof. Italo Tiezzi, students from Immaculata were allowed to take Italian at Tech! Imagine, for the first time, girls were going to take classes in an all-boys school! A follow-up to this was that Tech was given a special invitation to the Immaculata dances. Pretty good idea. Girls' school invites boys' school. Well, we all had to go to the dance, but who would have guessed that it was sold out?! Standing outside Immaculata, Tony signalled through the open door to one of our friends inside. Three of us followed Tony to the side of the school where we began removing the few screws that held a metal screen in front of a lower window. Sure enough, as our friend, who was already inside, opened the window, we jumped in and found ourselves in the girl's bathroom. Humming, "she came in through the bathroom window", we quickly ran out the door to the dance hall where we were greeted by the chaperone-Sisters. They were not happy! Out we were! The following week, the principal of Immaculata sent a letter to the principal of Tech who read it on the intercom, "All the boys at the dance were such gentlemen. We must do this again!" Then, the principal concluded with, "Could the following four boys please come to the office." Oh! Oh!

Tony the director

As Tony took a foothold in the Theatre Arts class, his expertise and interest embroiled him in the Theatre of the Absurd. Not only did he extensively research this field but also wrote several plays, some of which were performed at Tech. Of course, his experience and talents made him a natural director.

A play that was in preparation during, and took place a few weeks after, the Immaculata-dance event, caused him much excitement. It was a short play in the realm of theatre of the absurd, which attracted many young people. So it was a little strange to see three old ladies (very old to us teenagers) dressed all in black entering the theatre and crossing to the other side to sit near the back. They brought to mind the three haggard witches in Macbeth. The theatre was draped all in black and the set was a sitting room with half a dozen Modigliani's hanging on the walls.

When the play began, the lights dimmed, the actors acted and murmurs from the three old ladies began. "What is this? What are they talking about? This is not what we paid for!" (Not the reaction you would expect from patrons of theatre of the absurd, no??) The threesome would not let up and before the end of act one, they noisily made their way to the door, patrons standing to let them through!

They returned for the second and final act. Incredible! Concerned, Tony asked that chairs be brought in so as to have the ladies sit by the door. If they did not like the remaining act, they could easily leave or be encouraged to leave without too much disruption!

Things settled down, except for the odd exclamation coming from the ladies, "It's dark! It's getting hot in here! Can we open the door a little?" As the climax of the play approached and the protagonists were at each other, the lights were to be completely turned off and the theatre was to remain dark for about ten seconds. During these ten seconds, Tony, dressed all in black, with black make-up, would go out on stage and put smiles on all the Modigliani's elongated faces. The smiles would accentuate the great discovery revealed in the climax.
When the lights went off, the three ladies began screaming and screaming. Movement could be heard. "Where is the door? Where is the door? We want to get out!" There was no choice, the lights had to come back on, and yes, Tony was seen, frozen on stage, somewhat camouflaged. Quite a disappointment, that the audience missed the emphasis of the climax by the expression change on the Modigliani's!

Dejected, make-up still on, Tony exclaims, "I can't believe this! I can't!" (He may have used slightly stronger words!) As he watched the audience leave and the three old ladies slowly walking away and laughing with each other, Tony could not help but make a quick connection, "Do you think that those three ladies were Sisters from Immaculata? Couldn't be! They wouldn't be so upset with us sneaking into the dance that they came to ruin my play?" One of many unsolved mysteries!

Tony the Absent-Minded Scientist

It was no surprise to us that Tony went on to study chemistry at Carleton University. After several unintentional attempts at destroying the chemistry lab at Tech, filling it with smoke and starting sodium fires, the chemistry teacher always peeped in the room to make sure that it was safe before entering. Luckily, the university didn't ask him for a letter of recommendation! But we knew that you would do well, Tony. It was in your blood.

Tony's father, Giovanni, was already practicing food chemistry, being a great cook, a master at curing meats, and making cheese and wine. Often, just before sitting down to an evening of card games, the gang trekked down to that dark area in the basement where this great cheese culture was rising. It looked like it was moving. Giovanni would reach in with a knife and spread this cheese on the thick, Italian bread. It was best to eat it in the dark if you were squeamish about those white crawly things that were responsible for the great flavour of this cheese.

So, Tony was primed for chemistry! There are many stories to reminisce and some of his quests remain a mystery! No time for them here. But, there was the challenge to confirm the alcohol content of store-bought wine and to compare it to that of homemade wine. Not a big deal for chemists! It would have to be done after-hours. Who would believe that after breaking into the chem lab late one evening, amongst all the spatulas, pipettes, stirrers and other stuff, we would discover that chemistry labs actually do not have cork screws? The glass-cutting diamond file did the trick and, success, the alcohol experiment went ahead. Then, Tony noted that the homemade wine was somewhat cloudy, and seeing that we were in a chem lab, no problem! Activated charcoal powder, as a filter, will clear it up! Big surprise! Activated charcoal not only cleared the wine, it actually removed all the red wine pigment. So now, Tony changed the wine to water. Well, not quite, the alcohol was still in that clear water. This was a great discovery. We could now sneak this wine into any restaurant and, even the Carnevale!

Tony the Homemaker

Tony then met Anita, the love of his life, and all this experience made his home life much more interesting. Experimentation continued. Yes, it may be possible to brew a nice cup of cocoa in your stove-top espresso maker but sometimes the espresso maker doesn't survive and that nasty fine cocoa can make a big mess in your kitchen. Forever patient, Anita, restored the kitchen, till the next time. And of course Fabiana and Damiano were never bored. They shared in Tony's great insight, human thought and nature and of course in the more mundane but bodily need for food. Tony's great tomato sauce pasta was always available on demand!
Tony loved Alfa's. One summer while Anita was in Italy, he bought an Alfa 2000 GTV. How was he to break the news to Anita? Tony decides that he would surprise Anita by picking her up at the airport. Meanwhile, through the grapevine, Anita learns that Tony is burning rubber in Ottawa with his new toy. The day arrives when Tony drives to Montréal to pick up his sweetheart. Anita gets in the car and says nothing. Tony waits and waits for Anita's comments. Getting very impatient, Tony finally asks Anita if she hears the renowned musical notes emanating from the Alfa exhaust! "Yes, Tony, I hear them, and I knew about the car, but have you painted the house or have you just been driving around showing off your car?" Oh! Oh!

Tony and Anita arrive home, unload the car and Tony, taking Anita by the hand, walks her over to the kitchen. Voilà! Look, Anita, a nice dishwasher just for you! Seeing Anita's expression, Tony forever the loving husband, whispered, "and you can drive the Alfa, if you want!"

Unfortunately for Tony, the neighbours came to welcome back Anita. They mentioned that Tony was ever so considerate and did buy the best dishwashers. They also added that after connecting and loading the washer to make sure that it was in working order, he went outside to chat with them. Then Tony went back to check that the wash cycle was complete. All that could be heard was loud, strong language. Rushing in, the neighbours saw Tony amidst half a metre of soap suds that covered the kitchen floor. It seems that laundry detergent is a no-no in the kitchen!

The Secret life of Tony at RCMP

Often, I would ask Tony, "So what did you do today at the RCMP?" He would reply, "Oh, I just entered a bunch of info on a national database." "What kind of info?" I would ask. "Nothing important," he would reply. Then, I would remind him, "Tony, I have my secret clearance, you can tell me!" "It's just boring stuff!" "OK fine! Then, I am not going to tell you any of my super-duper secret stuff either!" I would tell him. This conversation would be replayed quite often, so there is no news to report on Tony's tenure at the RCMP.

Magnetic Personality

During the short period that Tony was at Casa Abruzzo, he made an impression on people, just on their first visit. For a while, Anita was also cooking there a few days a week. It was great! Many people, mostly non-Italian, who happened to go there for lunch met both Tony and Anita and for them Casa Abruzzo was referred to as Tony's Place! This reflects on the man. He was one of those people with a huge aura that encompassed you from a distance, and as you get closer, you would be smothered in his spell of kindness and understanding.


Tony, by no means are these highlights of your life or of your character, as those could have only be felt by being present with you and by noting what you worked to leave behind, a throve of loving friends and a caring, and loving, tight-knit family.

Tony, Always There!

Tony, we will miss you but you left this world a much better place. Thanks! You were a director, a playwright, a musician, a photographer, and a philosopher. Tony, you will always be with us!

See you!

Ettore Contestabile

Credits: Anita, Damiano and Fabiana for some of the stories they shared recently.

by Damiano Alloggia

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