James Franceschini

Plot 3, Lot 4
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto

When 15-year-old James Franceschini arrived in Canada from his hometown of Pescara, Italy in 1906, the young man spoke virtually no English and was totally penniless. Befriended by a Toronto city policeman who found Franceschini a place to sleep that first night in his adopted city, the youngster found himself a job the very next day. Franceschini had soon earned enough to buy a horse and wagon and eventually began his own small excavation company. Time passed, and the young man could soon afford to add a steam shovel to his equipment list. He suffered a major financial setback in 1916, but was able to recover and within a decade was the country’s largest road contractor. One of his many enterprises was called Dufferin Construction.
   In 1939, Canada went to war and Franceschini did his part by establishing the Dufferin Shipbuilding Company at the foot of Spadina Avenue. Here he contracted to build minesweepers for the government, but suddenly, and as it turned out, without proof, James Franceschini was arrested, fingerprinted and consigned to an internment camp as an enemy alien.
   Investigations subsequently proved Franceschini’s innocence, but a full year went by before he was granted a pardon. But due to government ineptitude (as a result of what was later proven to be blatant racism) Franceschini’s release was held up for another five months. Finally, a physician’s report on the deteriorating health of the 52-year-old Canadian citizen gained him his release. Once free, Franceschini purchased an estate in the Laurentians where he died on September 16, 1960.

Mike Filey
Mount Pleasant Cemetery: An Illustrated Guide
Second Edition Revised and Expanded

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