Lawrence Grassi was a trailblazer in every sense of the word. A working-class man of humble Italian origins who worked as a labourer and a coal miner for most of his life, Grassi had a deep passion for the Rocky Mountains. He was famous in the region for his commitment as a guide, a mountain climber, and a builder of greatly admired hiking trails. Today, in or near Canmore, his name graces a mountain, two lakes, and a school, and he is commemorated at Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park. In Lawrence Grassi: From Piedmont to the Rocky Mountains, Elio Costa and Gabriele Scardellato uncover the deeply private man behind this legend, from his birth in the small Italian village of Falmenta to his long and inspirational career in Canada. Using previously unexamined family letters and extensive information on Grassi's cohort of Italian immigrants, the authors reconstruct his personal and professional life, correcting myths and connecting his story to the long history of Italian immigration to Canada. The definitive biography of this Canadian mountain hero, Lawrence Grassi will be essential reading for those interested in the history of immigration, sport, and the Rocky Mountains.
Elio Costa is a professor emeritus in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics at York University. Gabriele Scardellato is an associate professor and the Mariano A. Elia Chair in Italian-Canadian Studies at York University.
Introduction 1. The Beginnings: Falmenta, the Cannobino Valley, and Emigration 2. "Dear Son Write to Me": Those Left Behind and Life on the North Shore 3. Lawrence Grassi in the Mountains 4. The Trail Maker Epilogue: "A Symbol and a Legend of the Canadian Rockies" Appendix: Letters from the Grassi Collection, in Translation