History Versione Furlane
The people of the Fogolar Furlan Windsor originated in the Friuli region of northern Italy. The region encompasses a beautiful landscape bordered by Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and surrounded by the Alps. Their homeland's history can be traced back for centuries whose people were dedicated to agriculture and to artistic autonomy. The Friuli ancestors had tenacity, strength of spirit and a reserved disposition unlike any other. The region was ruled by many throughout its history, each giving the land its own characteristics which are still upheld today.
The Roman Empire gave language in the early days which evolved into a “Friulano“ vulgar language. The Longobards of the Sixth and Eighth centuries gave the land its love of agriculture and the arts. The Middle Ages brought the building of castles making the land famous even today. The Church of Aquileia then emerged which nourished the people up until it was taken over by the Republic of Venice. The Venetian rule brought out change and improvements in the Friuli region. The completion of artistic developments and the progress of the Friulano language highlighted these times of greatness. The fall of Venice was marked by her inability to keep Friuli united; dividing the region with the French of Napolean and the Augsburg Empire. Napolean created even more divisions, but in the early 1800s the people found the strength to renew itself, abolishing the ways of the old and enforcing the civil code. These times proved to be very important in the land’s history as they overcame adversity to continue to uphold their values and way of life.
The unique lifestyle of the Friuli people then made its way to Canada and the city of Windsor where a dedicated group of men and women started a new life. They were ambitious people who had left a motherland devastated by war and tragedy to rekindle their spirits in the fire of the Fogolar. The Fogolar signifies the hearth or the fireplace which is the centre of the family life. The second World War brought a new wave of immigrants into Canada. The Furlans of Friuli found themselves in a new land with a different culture. Gone were the Sunday gatherings in the local bar where they could have a drink and play cards. This had been the custom in the old country and a few dedicated men decided to resurrect this missed tradition. The idea that tradition should continue was brought in large part by Giuseppe Demonte and on April 14, 1961 the very first committee of Fogolar Furlan Windsor was created. The group continued to meet in the basement of the home of John Masotti. The need for a larger meeting room became apparent as more and more members joined. So with this new found popularity the meetings moved to the Polish Hall on Langlois and Hanna Street. November 24, 1961 saw the first General Assembly where 32 members were present. As the months passed, the Club grew more and more popular and in the spring of 1962 plans were set for the first Club banquet where 300 of the local people, some members and some not, joined together in celebration. This banquet allured more people to becoming members of the Fogolar Furlan Windsor and by 1963 they decided to incorporate a new Club to fulfill its needs. However, following a lengthy wait, the Provincial Government refused their application. During this time the “civedale” (above right) was designated as the Fogolar’s symbol and brought even more unity to the group of Furlans. By 1964 the group definitely needed its own facilities and decided to ask its now 140 members for funding to purchase the land. The Club was given loans by the members interest free and on November 7th, 1964 the down payment was made on 14 acres of land on 1800 E.C. Row. Seven days later the government finally accepted their application and the Fogolar Furlan Windsor was incorporated under the laws of Ontario.
After all the paper work had been completed the true spirit of the local Furlans had emerged. Now tedious manual labour was needed. The Furlans came out in full force and cleaned up the heavily forested area, turning it into a park-like atmosphere. A sign was constructed reading “New site of the Fogolar Furlan of Windsor” and the President of the Friuli nel Mondo symbolically turned the first shovel of earth paving the way for construction of the Fogolar (above left). In the Spring of 1966 the first building was erected with materials that were either purchased or donated and the labour done voluntarily by its members. As the years passed, the Club grew.
The first physical structure was completed in 1966, as seen in the photo above. During the next 10 years, additional facilities like the Dante Costa hall (1970) and outdoor picnic grounds (1972) were developed to deal with the rising number of new members. However the new Dante Costa hall was outgrown and by 1978 even more construction was required. The main building was modified to make way for the new Canada and Friuli halls, each with a capacity of about 350 people (below). The grand opening of the new halls took place in 1981, the Club celebrating it's 20th anniversary. The Sports Complex with bocce courts, a racquet ball court, a gymnasium, and a banquet hall was added as a new building starting in 1983 and the grand opening of the Sports Complex coincided with the Fogolar's 25th anniversary in 1986. The Fogolar had experienced constant growth during its first 25 years and development now shifted to social initiatives. The Gotis di Rosade youth choir was established, the Club represented itself in the community by holding various historical exhibits, and the Fogolar Furlan Library was created.
However, the millenium struck and construction started again. This time it was renovations to the banquet hall in the Sports Complex. The racquet ball room and games room, which were extensions of the banquet hall, were no longer being used and thus were eliminated to allow for the expansion and renovation of what is now the Udine Hall. Windows were added into the rear of the room overlooking the Fogolar's back fields and the kitchen was modified to deal with the increased capacity. Downstairs, the lower half of the racquet ball court was converted into the Pordenone Room, a salon perfect for small business meetings or family gatherings.
2002 saw huge improvements to the Fogolar's cooking facilities, as a million-dollar state-of-the-art kitchen was built on the north end of the main building (above left). Following the completion of the new kitchen, the committee focused their attention on the aging gymnasium in what was now called the Udine Complex. No longer being used for what it was intended, the gymnasium was converted into a modern banquet facility, complete with dynamic ceilings, hardwood floors, a digital projector & plasma televisions, and an elegant semi-circular bar. Completed in 2005, the Windsor Hall (above right) has been received by the public and the members with open arms. Easily one of the most beautiful banquet rooms in all of Windsor, the hall also has a gas fireplace and accesses a small patio.
The Fogolar Memorial Chapel (left) was also built in the Fogolar's forest during this period to pay tribute to all of our deceased members. Every year, after being blessed at the Father's Day mass, a new plaque engraved with the names of the previous year's deceased members is fastened to the wall of the chapel.
As if 4 years of aggressive construction wasn't enough, the committee broke ground for a new sports pavillion on the Fogolar grounds in late 2005. Completed in June 2006, the Fogolar Fieldhouse is a fully-covered complex with washroom facilities, a traditional stone fireplace, and a service counter. It was added to accommodate the many sports teams that use the Fogolar's fields for their practises and games, and can also be used for outdoor picnics and barbeques.
After celebrating 45 years as a club, the Fogolar Furlan has experienced continued success as a banquet hall and is now focusing their efforts on attracting new members to the Club to share in the culture and traditions of Friuli.