Godfather Antonio Cordasco
Antonio Cordasco was one of Montreal’s best known residents in the beginning of the 20th century. He was an Italian padrone, thus a man who served as an intermediary between Canadian big business and Italian immigrants.
The padrone’s or godfather’s activities extended both along the communications network between European workers and Canadian industry and into many aspects of Italian life in Quebec.
Dishonesty and corruption of the padrone are clear. But it was not the migrant labourers who objected to his work. Even more, when it suited them, the authorities themselves used godfathers services.
Big business in Quebec needed transient labour. The immigration policy of the Canadian government, thus wished to make use of the Italian labour. Thus men as Cordasco played an important role, because the Italian immigrants, looking for means to make money and then return to their hometown, were happy with the padrone as long as he supplied the jobs.
In 1904, Cordasco made 4,000 Italians to parade in front of his house in Montreal to honour him and his family. He was proclaimed as King of Labour.
However, the padrone Antonio Cordasco came under attack only when the needs of Canadian big business did not satisfy the requirements of migrant labourers. Cordasco was destroyed in 1904.