Lamantia, Larry

Larry Lamantia was born in Toronto, growing up in the city’s east end in the Pape-Danforth neighbourhood. His father ran a grocery market, and Larry grew up in the care of his grandmother, as his mother died when Larry was only five. The family experienced some of the anti-Italian backlash that spread through Toronto at the time, but Larry remembers that many in the neighbourhood defended his father’s business and ignored the boycotts. When military service was approaching, Larry went to enlist in the RCAF, but he was turned away; when 1944 and his 18th birthday came, the army came for him, and he reported to the Exhibition and basic training. In 1944, he was sent to western Canada, arriving in BC shortly after the internment of Japanese-Canadians. Larry understood this painful episode well; members of his own family were interned at Petawawa, at a time when many Italian-Canadians were put under needless suspicion. Even with that, Larry did his turn in the Canadian Army, answering the call when he turned 18. Much of his war was spent in western Canada, as Larry was kept on the home front. When the war concluded, Larry made his way back to Toronto, where he was discharged later that year. He returned to work with his father, where he met his soon-to-be-wife through members of her extended family. One night he needed a date for a party at the Royal York, and their relationship began there.

Larry was interviewed for this project courtesy of Deirdre Piercey, whose father Min Yatabe is also featured here. Scott Masters and Eric Brunt interviewed Larry in his home in January 2019.