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VCB eNews, Vol 13, #15 - Italian Cyclists in Cape Breton




Volume 13, #15  -  Italian Cyclists in Cape Breton




Editorial: Italian Cyclists in Cape Breton 

VCB Tours in 2016

Health Fair at CBU

Did You Know?

Amendments to NS Motor Vehicle Act

Loose Chain Links

About That Funny


European immigrants brought the sport with them to Cape Breton 



Numerous Italian men made their way to Cape Breton during the early years of the 20th century to work in the steel mills or dig coal to make coke to fuel the mills.


Giuseppe Amadio came from the old country in 1914 and settled in Donkin to work the underground coal seams with other Italian and European immigrants.


Amadio started work at No. 6 coal mine and soon found a bride in good Scottish lass, Cecilia Campbell. They raised six boys and two girls while Guiseppe chipped away and pulled coal from various Donkin mines over the years.


One cannot over-emphasize the importance of immigrants to learn English during those years. My own failure at speaking Italian was because my Italian grandparents knew English ruled Industrial Cape Breton so their native tongue was downplayed at home. Unfortunately, this was simply the way it was. Giuseppe Amadio was wise to this notion too. He spoke no Italian at home around the children, having an English-speaking wife, yet prided himself on cooking his favourite Italians foods, especially polenta.


Amadio decided one way to improve his English was to get involved in sports. When the children were younger, they'd spend many hours swimming down at the shore close to home. Amadio would come from work, blow a whistle and the kids would come running. He'd spend considerable time training them in various athletic endeavours. It was through sporting competition they earned respect and admiration from the community in a time when prejudice against immigrants was, like some coal seams, not far from the surface.


The three youngest Amadio boys went on to become one of the more famous hockey families in Cape Breton. Neil, Leo and Dave all played or coached in various local and country wide leagues for years, including a three-year stint in the NHL for Dave. Their father's main sport wasn't hockey though. He was most passionate about bicycle racing.


Long before the days of clip-in bicycle shoes, Amadio had his own biking footwear. He was a big, strong man with large feet. For biking he used a pair of size 14 slippers with the backs cut out of them so he could fit into them better. Bicycling races were often held from Glace Bay to Sydney, a considerable distance to pedal, and pedal with all your might, in a pair of cut out slippers. He competed and excelled in many races as a young man.


In the neighbouring coal-mining community of Dominion, which sported even more Italian families, cycling was popular amongst the immigrant miners. Thirty-six years ago the late Condo Baggio related to Evo DiPierro the story of one of his more memorable bicycling adventures.


In 1927, 28 miners, mostly Italians, gathered in front of the Red Onion Hotel in Dominion to pedal their way along the gravel roads to North Sydney to visit relatives of one of their riders, Tavio Zaniol. They made good time arriving in North Sydney around noon and descended tired, hungry and boisterous en masse at a local Chinese restaurant. The poor Chinese proprietor was a bit nervous as the gang of burly-looking and foreign speaking sweaty men literally invaded his place. The chief of police who came by for a brief chat with a Mr. Manelli, the best English speaker, realized the men were quite innocent, and just hungry.


When Dominic Mancini, who ran a pop factory in North Sydney, heard of the visiting countrymen he went to the restaurant and invited them to a party in which he supplied salami, Italian bread and a 24-gallon keg of beer.  Of course the beer took hold and any thoughts of cycling back to Dominion were soon dispelled as impossible.


Mancini arranged for the owner of a large fishing boat to sail the men and bikes to Lingan harbour. A short shaky pedal across the beach got them all safely back to the Red Onion Hotel. On arrival, musicians were called over and the party continued until 4 a.m. when the second police chief of the day, 350 pound Vic Gouthro, showed up and decided the bike ride was officially over.


Reproduced by permission from the Cape Breton Post.  

Author: Paul MacDougall, an educator, a writer, a VCB member. He lives in Sydney. His column appears monthly in the Cape Breton Post.






Since the announcement sent a week ago, registrations came in at a fast pace.  So much so that at the last count this morning, there are only 8 guaranteed seats left for the Cabot Trail and 6 for the Tour du Lac.  After the total count reaches 40, a Waiting List will be kept to fill cancellation(s) if any.


Those of you who have registered early, you have received a confirmation of a seat on the tour.  Now, if you have friends you want to ride on the Island, let them know, there's not much time left for them to register.  And you who never experienced a fully supported tour with VCB, here's your chance to be pampered.


See info and Registration at the following Links

Cabot Trail:

Tour du Lac Bras d'Or:







The Cape Breton University Students’ Union will present the 7th Annual Healthy Living Week on campus.  


As part of the week-long events, on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 they will be hosting a Health Fair at CBU in the Multi-Purpose Room located in the Student, Culture, & Heritage Building (CE-Campus Expansion).    


VCB’s Elaine Swartz and Yolande LeVert will be there to promote Velo Cape Breton’s organization and especially promote the Heartland Tour visit in Sydney on Saturday July 16.  


The Health Fair will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 


Hope to see you there.!!







In 2013, most traffic crashes that resulted in a pedestrian’s or cyclist’s death involved men, occurred in urban areas, happened in clear weather conditions, and most frequently took place between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. 


Various factors—working separately or in combination—may have contributed to these fatalities and injuries, including increased walking and cycling trips; alcohol use; distracted road users; or road design practices.  





Driver distraction occurs when a driver diverts their attention away from the activities needed for safe driving. 


By “safe driving” we mean exercising sufficient awareness of the environment and control of the vehicle to maintain a reasonable safety margin allowing for unexpected events. This requires continuous monitoring of the road, infrastructure and traffic environment including the road ahead and the behaviour of other road users. 


Distracted driving is the state that occurs when attention is given to a non-driving related activity, typically to the detriment of driving performance. Diversion of attention might be due to some event, activity, object or person, within or outside the vehicle.


Driving a vehicle is a FULL-TIME job.







On January 21st the Halifax Cycling Coalition, with It’s More Than Buses, Walk ‘n Roll Halifax, Bicycle Nova Scotia and the Ecology Action Centre, hosted a walk-in event for the general public to weigh in on alternative amendments proposed by each group to make Nova Scotia’s Motor Vehicle Act more fair, effective and inclusive.  


You may not have been able to attend the Motor Vehicle Act Open House but we're eager to hear from you through this online survey. 


Please take a few minutes to share your opinions with the rest of us.


The outcomes will be presented to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.  






Germany Opens 62-Mile Bicycle Highway That's Completely Car-Free






1) You can't count your hair.

2) You can't wash your eyes with soap.

3) You can't breathe through your nose when your tongue is out.

Put your tongue back in your mouth, you silly person.




January 28th, 2016



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