A-Z Challenge Surnames P


My maiden name is PAGOTTO….

My father was Luigi PAGOTTO born August 23, 1933 in Azzano Decimo, Pordenone, Italy.

I spent the better part of my childhood wishing I had a different last name. Growing up as a 1st generation Canadian with immigrant Italian parents was difficult, especially since we lived in a very “English” neighbourhood.

As it goes, children can be very mean. My surname was “Potato Pototto” and various other versions. All I ever wanted was a name like Smith, Jones, White etc. It was when I was almost in college that I finally realized that I, like hundreds of other immigrants, made up the fabric of what Toronto was all about. We were a very multi-cultural city and I became proud of my different background. I was also very proud that I spoke English, Italian and French. Not many of my friends could.

PAGOTTO is not a common name even in Italy. It’s regional and mostly in the Trento area of Italy but there are a few pockets of families in southern Italy.

My father emigrated to Canada in 1951 at only 17 years old! Alone. I still have the letter he wrote to his parents upon arriving at Union Station in Toronto, telling them that he was not tired at all and that he would start looking for work the next day! He didn’t speak a word of English but he found work. He worked very hard. He started working in lumber camps in northern Ontario and then went to Flin Flon, Manitoba. There were no social services back then and you just did whatever you could to earn a dollar.

Maria Tonus and Vittorio Pagotto with son Luigi Pagotto and grandchildren.JPG

Luigi (in white shirt) and his 3 daughters (I’m beside him) and his parents who came to visit us in Canada in 1965.


Eventually he settled in Toronto and some of his cousins arrived. He had a flashy car by 22 and was very proud of the fact he sent money home every month to help his family.


My dad with his first new car at 22 years old.


After 6 years alone he travelled back to visit his family in Italy. Upon returning, he met my mother on board the ship. They danced at a get together and then went their separate ways. She was 21 and emigrating to Canada with her brother.

As fate would have it, my father and mother were both invited to the same wedding 3 months later!! The rest, as they say, was history.


My parents on their wedding day in 1958, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


My father passed away in 2002. I WISHED I had gotten a DNA test from him but there were no such thing like we have now. I think it was only available for solving crimes.

He had no brothers and his father and uncle were dead. His uncle had no children and my father only had daughters.

It’s now only possible to do a Y-DNA test if I go back to a great grandparent and go down the line. THAT should be an interesting email/phone call!

I’ve managed to trace my PAGOTTO family name back as far as Angelo PAGOTTO (born 1755) who married Anna BORGAN. Thereafter, the PAGOTTO surname was given the nickname PAGOTTO detto BORGAN to differentiate from other PAGOTTO families in the records. This was a common practice and actually helped me find him!

He was born in Rivarotta, which is not that far from where my father was born. People didn’t travel around very much back then. One day I hope to go back to the archives in Italy and go back further.

About tiesthatbindsite

I'm a genealogist with a passion for Scottish and English ancestry. I'm trilingual so I can also do research in French Canadian records and Italian records. My love for family history began 35 years ago and continues to grow every day. My family is very important to me and I hope to instill in them a love for "where they came from" so that they can better understand who they are. I also want to share my love of family history with anyone who understands how important it is to not lose site of their ancestors. They all have a story to tell.
This entry was posted in April 2016- A-Z Challenge, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A-Z Challenge Surnames P

  1. doreeweller says:

    That’s such a wonderful love story about your parents. And names are so interesting and important. I really believe that our names influence who we are.
    @DoreeWeller from
    Doree Weller’s Blog


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s