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Museum talk to feature prominent homestead family

A Cochrane area poet and family historian will be at the museum on Wednesday to speak about her family's 110-year history.

A Cochrane area poet and family historian will be at the museum on Wednesday to speak about her family's 110-year history among the region's first homesteaders.

Wendy Vaughan, whose ancestors were the Zuccolo family – Italian immigrants from the Udine region of Northern Italy – has prepared an extensive history complete with historic photos of her family who moved to the Cochrane area in 1910 after first settling in British Columbia.

The photos on display at the museum are of amazing quality for the period, a credit to the work of Vaughan's cousin Keith Putt.

"He takes photos of old photos and those are really good photos for the time they were and that was the 20s and 30s," she said.

The granddaughter of Thomaso and Angelina Zuccolo, Vaughan has a collection of stories and poems about the original family of nine – six daughters and a son – who set up on land as farmers near Horse Creek on a property that is no longer in the family.

The Zuccolo family was unique in many ways. Among the first wave of Italian immigration that began in the late 19th century and saw around 11,000 Italians cross the ocean by 190, they were the in the 25 per cent minority hailing from the Northern region of the country. Unlike the majority of their peers, they also chose to move west while many at that time stayed in Montreal and Toronto.

In 1948, they sold the farm and moved to Cochrane to a home near Cochrane High School and resided there for the remainder of their lives. Angelina died in 1956 and Thomaso later in 1965. The pair, along with daughter Catherine and son, John, are buried in St. Mary's RC Cemetery in Rocky View. 

"I am so happy that I did this," Vaughan said of the collection of research she plans to reference during her talk.

It's also a chance to promote the work the museum is doing to help residents explore the rich family histories in Cochrane.

Jade Lewis, who has been working at the museum for the past three seasons and is a multi-generational Cochranite herself, said anyone interested in researching family histories can make use of the museum archives or ask staff to help them with gathering the information.

Following Vaughan's July 17 talk, the museum is hosting its Chautauqua fundraiser on July 21 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to fundraise for the work that has been done to repair the museum's basement after it was flooded back in the spring. The completed work includes new carpet, drywall, paint and furniture.

Storytellers and poets, including Vaughan, will attend the event and people are welcome to bring vintage mementos and antiques to scan and photograph to share in the museum in an effort to replenish some of what was lost to flood waters. Those planning to attend are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs for the entertainment that will be held on the outdoor stage.



Chris Puglia

About the Author: Chris Puglia

Chris is a SAIT-trained journalist with more than 20 years of experience.
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