My father immigrated to Canada from Italy when he was 26 years old. He left his homeland in search of a better life, for himself, and his future family. My father defines the Canadian dream. He came to Canada with only two suitcases, which now hold my sister’s Barbie dolls. He did not speak any English; he did not have many friends. The only thing he did have was a dream to be successful and make it in this country.

fatherat26

The author’s father at 26

He had various jobs when he arrived to Canada. He worked in a winery and worked in a local bakery delivering bread to houses. He took English classes at night so he could work during the day. He worked hard and long hours. He saved everything he made and after years of committing his life to the bakery, he ended up purchasing it from the owners who were retiring.  

Through many sacrifices, hard work and long hours, he lived out his dream and is very successful at it. I always admired the person he is. My father is in his 70’s now, yet he still wakes up early, goes to work, and spends most of his waking moments at the bakery. After more than 40 years, my parents still own and operate the bakery.

When reflecting on my childhood, my happiest memories with my dad were making wine with him in our garage, making homemade sausage, going on bike rides, taking road trips up to Toronto with my sisters to pick up supplies for the bakery, and when we went to Italy to visit family. Although my dad worked long hours, he did his best to teach us his traditions and spend time with all four of his kids.

We may not agree on things all the time, but I truly appreciate all he has done for me. He sacrificed his life to provide a better one for his family. He taught us family traditions, modeled a good work ethic, and always provided for us. These are qualities I hope to pass on to our son, Milo. I am excited to do the things with him that my father did with me. I want to take him bike rides, teach him to bake, and show him the world. There is nothing more rewarding about being a parent than seeing your child grow and learn.

Although I’m lucky enough to celebrate being a dad every day, I’ll admit it’s nice to have a day dedicated to fatherhood. So, let me take the opportunity to with all the fathers, grandfathers, uncles—and anyone who is a parental figure—a very happy day this Sunday.

And to my own father: Happy Father’s Day, Papa. I love you.


More from BJ & Frankie:

Mom, Dad: I’m Gay

One Interfaith Couple’s New & Old Traditions

Why Do Gay Dads Have to Fight to Be Accepted?