Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, 7-16 April 2003

Canada greets Meucci!

A reportage about Basilio Catania's visit to Canada, his lectures, interviews and happenings . . . .
(by Basilio Catania, in cooperation with Franco Gaspari and Franco Gucciardo)

Monday, 7 April 2003, 5:30 PM
A magnificent Air Canada airbus lands in Montreal, handing over my wife, Antonia, and myself in the hands of Franco Gucciardo, who will be our omnipresent guide for the most part of our visit, validly assisted by his charming wife Agnese and his son Marco. The Alitalia intercontinental -- and complimentary -- flight was smooth enough, we being the only passengers in the business class.... What a pity! Alitalia had flown at no profit, despite the mass of cancellations due to the fear of SARS. But where is SARS? In Toronto, where Alitalia landed, just two out of five immigration officers were wearing facial masks. The only signs of SARS were just some blue signs hanging here and there, giving advices to arriving passengers. We had our own masks in our hand baggage but did not use them, as we would be the only travelers doing it. And, we instinctively chose the officer -- a nice African-Canadian lady -- smiling to us, not wearing a mask. "Welcome to Canada!" she greeted us and, without undergoing any further customs or health controls, we went straight to the Air Canada check-in to Montreal.

Monday, 7 April 2003, 7:30 PM
After a short rest at the hotel, we all went to the Istituto Italiano di Cultura (Italian Cultural Institute), where several dozen persons convened to greet us, letting us enjoying the first flavor of the forthcoming demonstrations on behalf of Antonio Meucci. Gucciardo had worked hard to set up a convenient exhibition there together with a practical demonstration of Meucci's 1867 telephones, connected through a wire -- purposely cut and joined midway -- to show that it did not operate mechanically. The telephones were reconstructed under Gucciardo's supervision by local artisans and technicians, based on information supplied by Catania. Several shots of this event can be viewed at Gucciardo's site
Antonio Meucci Centre / "Visual of Visits". The warmth and enthusiasm of the Italian guests made us forget the tiredness and the time zone lag, so that we only reached a bed after 11:00 PM local time.

Tuesday, 8 April 2003

Ivana Bombardieri of CFMB interviews Basilio Catania

The morning was spent to set up my iBook Firewire at the Hotel and get an account with AOL Canada, in order to allow me to keep contacts through Internet, while in Canada.

3:30 PM --Soon after lunch I was interviewed by Ivana Bombardieri of the Montreal's CFMB Radio Station, and soon came up one of the most debated issues concerning the US Resolution pro Meucci, i.e. the motion of the Canadian Parliament upholding Bell as the real inventor of the telephone. I remarked that the Canadian move was provoked by an unfortunate passage in the US Resolution that contained a not-so-friendly intimation on the morality of Alexander Graham Bell, which charge was, in my opinion, both unproven and unnecessary. I also noted that the Canadian motion, unlike the US Resolution, did not contain any intimation on the other contender, Antonio Meucci, fully in line with the traditional fair play of the British-style tradition.
I found confirmation of the Canadian fair play in two papers which were handed to me that same evening by some friends.

One was published by The Toronto Star on June 20, 2002, where it was reported, among other, that:

Brian Wood, curator of the Bell Homestead Museum in Brantford, was surprised to hear of the resolution. "If this can be proven, then Meucci certainly deserves recognition as contributing to the realm of telephony" Wood said. . . .

The other paper appeared on the inaugural issue of the Accenti Magazine (March/April 2003) and was an interview with the Honourable Sheila Copps, Minister of Canadian Heritage. Incidentally, Sheila Copps speaks Italian and professes her high consideration of the Italian-Canadian citizens to the progress of the country. She declared to the Accenti interviewer, among other: "History means that we have to understand the things that we did right and understand the things that we did wrong."
All these statements would greatly contribute to a smooth presentation of Meucci's merits, avoiding any undesirable -- and unproductive -- contrapositions.

Tuesday, 8 April 2003 7:30 PM
Lecture by Basilio Catania at the Casa d'Italia: "Antonio Meucci: una nuova verità e una storia da riscrivere" ("Antonio Meucci: a new truth to be told and a piece of history to be rewritten"), assisted by a PowerPoint presentation ( total of 24 electronic slides).

Lecture at Casa d'Italia, Montreal. Photos by Benedetta Pignataro

Catania pointed out that all evidence regarding Meucci's priority in the invention of the telephone comes from the engineering analysis of a few fundamental documents that he had retrieved in the USA in 1990. These documents were buried in a mass of papers relating to the proceedings begun by the US Government in about 1885 to annul the Bell patents. A number of questions were raised by the many attendees, amounting to more than 60 persons. A rich documentation was distributed to the participants.
At the end of the lecture the Casa d'Italia granted to a number of distinguished guests the "Meucci Phone Award" through the hands of Basilio Catania. The "Centro Culturale Italiano del Québec" presented Basilio Catania with a finely carved plaque, acknowledging his cultural merits and his lecture at Casa d'Italia.
The event was preceded by a supper organized by Casa d'Italia with representatives from their Board, the Italian Consulate, the Order Sons of Italy, the Centro Culturale Italiano del Québec, Little Italy organization and Antonio Meucci Centre.

Wednesday, 9 April 2003 3:00 PM
Lecture by Basilio Catania at the
Concordia University, Faculty of Engineering & Computer Science, Montreal, QC. The presentation, titled "New truth about telephony -- Meucci an inventor and a discoverer," was similar to that held at Casa d'Italia (except for the language) and was divided into three parts: 1. The scientific proofs; 2. Secondary evidence; 3. The trials. The attendees were provided with a folder containing scanned copies of the three original documents proving Antonio Meucci's priority, i.e. Meucci's caveat of 1871, the Corradi drawing featuring Meucci's long distance telephone layout, and Lemmi's affidavit, featuring the US English translation of Meucci's Laboratory Notebook. The folder also contained reprints of the two papers "Four 'Firsts' in Telephony" and "The US Government Versus Alexander Graham Bell: An important Acknowledgment for Antonio Meucci," by Basilio Catania. General information on the Antonio Meucci Centre and the hosting Faculty was also included.

Lecture at Concordia University. Left: partial view of the audience. Right: Professors Terrill Fancott (Associate Dean), Nabil Esmail (Dean), Louise Quesnel (Assistant Dean, External Affairs), Basilio Catania, and Omair Ahmad (Chair, Signal Processing and Communications).

Carole Gagliardi interviewing Catania

After the lecture, Prof. Terrill Fancott (Associate Dean) acted as a moderator for the many questions from the floor. The lecture was attended by a number of students and professors, also from other faculties. Among them was Prof. Rama B. Bhat, Chair, Dept. Mechanical & Industrial Engineering. At the close, Prof. Nabil Esmail, Dean, Engineering & Computer Science, thanked Basilio Catania on behalf of his staff and the Faculty at large.
The lecture at Concordia University was preceded by a two-part television interview by Carole Gagliardi (photo at left).  It was broadcast several times over two weeks and met a remarkable audience.

Wednesday, 9 April 2003 8:00 PM: lecture at Centro Leonardo da Vinci, Montreal, QC
Basilio Catania at the Leonardo da Vinci Centre


A special venue was organized by Franco Gucciardo at the magnificent Leonardo da Vinci Centre in Montreal, where a number of Italian-Canadian businessmen and eminent personalities convened, after an Italian-style supper in downtown Montreal , with CIBPA and Community Foundation Presidents.
After the lecture, which was somewhat shortened with respect to that at Casa d'Italia, Basilio Catania was presented with the Leonardo da Vinci medal.


The Leonardo da Vinci medal

Thursday, 10 April 2003 Ottawa, ON, 12:30 PM.
After a pleasant ride on board of Franco Gucciardo's car from Montreal, QC down to Ottawa, ON, we were welcomed at Ottawa's National Art Centre and had lunch with political authorities and other personalities, under the patronage of the Italian Embassy. The main subject of discussion during lunch was the motion approved by the Canadian Parliament, upholding the merits of Alexander Graham Bell, versus the Resolution N. 269 of the US Government, supporting Antonio Meucci's priority. Once more, Catania remarked that the Canadian move was provoked by an unfortunate passage in the US Resolution and that the Canadian reaction was therefore quite understandable. We were informed that Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps declined an offer for a private demo on Meucci's proofs, but conceded to address historical and scientific Canadian bodies for furnishing useful information, that might be later made available to her office.

The Canadian Parliament (a stop sign for the US Congress?) -- Photo by Basilio Catania

Thursday, 10 April 2003, 3:00 PM. Presentation at the Communication Research Centre, Ottawa, ON.
This visit was in line with indications received by Hon. Sheila Copps' office and was very useful, in that an effective interaction was achieved with several expert researchers of this prestigious research laboratory of the Canadian Government. See some interesting shots of the event at the above quoted Gucciardo's
"Visual of Visits".

Thursday, 10 April 2003, 7:30 PM: Lecture at Ottawa's N.C.I.C. (National Congress of Italian Canadians)
A remarkable attendance of Ottawa's Italian-Canadian (over about 100) welcomed Basilio Catania's remarks "Le prove legali e scientifiche" ("The legal and Scientific Proofs") presented at the facilities of N.C.I.C. This event is largely illustrated in the Ottawa section of Gucciardo's
"Visual of Visits". The warmth and level of interest of the audience was by no means inferior to that of the corresponding audiences in Montreal. N.C.I.C.'s President Josephine Palumbo, warmly thanked Basilio Catania for his enlightening remarks and the supporting incontrovertible proofs favoring Antonio Meucci's priority.

Friday, 11 April 2003
In the morning, after a pleasant rest at the very nice Arc l'Hotel, our friend Franco Gucciardo drove us down to Toronto, ON, for the last part of our visit. The organization here was taken over by Prof. Franco Gaspari, Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, also President of COMITES (Committee of the Italians Abroad), validly assisted by his charming wife Anna. At about 6:00 PM we were welcomed at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, where an Italian lady made us taste one of the best lasagnas that we had ever tasted before. I was also pleased to meet there Prof. Namir Kahn, of the University of Toronto, who is the Managing Editor of the Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, so much engaged in the publication of my papers on Meucci's priority.
I must confess that after this first round I felt so tired that the free Saturday, 12 April, was a balsam for both my feet and mind.

Sunday, 13 April 2003, 3:00 PM: Celebration of Antonio Meucci's 195th Birthday, at Columbus Centre, Toronto, ON.
This event was jointly organized by Comites, Toronto and Antonio Meucci Centre, Montreal to commemorate Meucci in Canada on his day of birth.  Franco Gucciardo brought to Toronto a photo exhibit and the working Telettrofono models to be shown and tried-out.
It was agreed with Prof. Franco Gaspari to celebrate Meucci's birth anniversary by reading some
passages on Antonio Meucci's birth and youth in Florence, taken from Basilio Catania's book "Antonio Meucci -- L'inventore e il suo tempo". It worked well, since it managed to re-create the atmosphere and the emotion of the celebrated event.
A comprehensive 8-page leaflet was prepared and distributed beforehand by Prof. Franco Gaspari, titled "A Tribute to Antonio Meucci" also containing all information and directions for the forthcoming events in Toronto.
On the same day, an extended essay by Nancy McLeod appeared on Tandem/Corriere Canadese, titled "Calling Antonio Meucci--Catania rings in evidence supporting inventor of telephone". Nancy remarked, among other:

Among the new evidence, Catania will be presenting in Toronto, is the entire roster of engineering proofs demonstrating how much Meucci was ahead of his time and how he antedated Bell and the Bell Company by up to 40 years. 'This is the first time that I present such a result in such a complete manner," he explains.

Monday, 14 April 2003, 7:00 PM: Lecture at the University of Toronto, ON
Basilio Catania's lecture at the University of Toronto was titled "New evidence on Antonio Meucci's contribution to the invention of the telephone" but followed the same lines as the lecture at the Concordia University in Montreal. It was preceded by a magnificent lunch at the University's Faculty Club, hosted by Prof. Domenico Pietropaolo, Emilio Goggio Chair of Italian Studies.
B. Catania, Prof. Pietropaolo, Mrs. Catania and Prof. Gaspari at Faculty Club
Basilio Catania's lecture at the University of Toronto
View of the attendance at the University of Toronto
Another view of the attendance at the University of Toronto

Tuesday, 15 April 2003, 7:00 PM: Lecture at Columbus Centre, Toronto, ON
This was the most enthusiastic and crowded event of the whole Canadian tour by Basilio Catania. The lecture, titled "Antonio Meucci: Storia di una rivendicazione" ("Antonio Meucci: History of a Vindication") was hosted by the Società Dante Alighieri and was attended by over 200 persons. Catania covered the whole roster of proofs, trials and historical passages that preceded the US Congressional Resolution of June 11, 2002. At the end of the lecture, Prof. Giorgio Papini, Professor Emeritus (University of Regina, Sask.), took the floor and delivered the following address (translation from Italian):

Professor Catania,
I wish to express, also on behalf of the audience, our gratitude for the brilliant series of lessons that you have given us in these days.
Your distilling twenty thousand pages of documents to obtain such a clear and fascinating presentation is in itself an enterprise that deserves our deepest admiration. As a professor of Physics and as a researcher, I have fully appreciated the importance and the significance of Antonio Meucci 's discoveries, that you have brought to light.
You have demonstrated, with great energy, but also with utmost exactitude -- hence in an incontrovertible way -- that Antonio Meucci had developed between 1858 and 1871 a complete and practical system of telephony.
Moreover, I have been moved by the human aspects of Antonio Meucci's life, that you have disclosed to us.
Antonio Meucci was one of us. Thanks!

Following Professor Papini's address, the audience rose and tributed to Basilio Catania an endless and friendly applause, that moved the orator beyond all his expectations.

Farewell Lunch at grano Restaurant. From left: Prof. Nazir P. Kherani (Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Photonics Group), Prof. Stefan Zukotynski (Director, Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering), Prof. Franco Gaspari (Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering), Basilio Catania and Prof. Emeritus Giorgio Papini.

Wednesday, 16 April 2003: time to leave.......
Prof. Franco Gaspari, despite his over 400 students waiting for his attention, kindly drove us to the Pearson Airport and escorted us up to the Alitalia check-in desk to Milan. We were all tired but extremely happy for the success of the enterprise. We noted somewhat more passengers on board of Alitalia, but Franco had remarked that the coming Easter holidays would certainly increase the demand for intercontinental flights to Italy. The only signs of SARS were, in addition to the hanging blue signs, some security officers wearing gloves....

When we landed in Milan, 17 April 2003, 7:30 AM, we clearly felt that we were missing both the big heart of Italian-Canadians and the Canadian hospitality.


April 9, 2003, 2:30 PM ---------- Global CH TV (Carole Gagliardi), Montreal, QC
April 10, 2003, 7:30 PM -------- OMNI TV, Ottawa, ON
April 13, 2003, 10:00 AM ------ CHIN, TV, Toronto, ON
April 14, 2003, 7:00 PM -------- OMNI TV, Toronto, ON

April 8, 2003, 3:30 PM ---------- CFMB Radio (Ivana Bombardieri) Montreal, QC
April 14, 2003, 12:30 PM ------ CHIN Radio, Toronto, ON

April 9, 2003, 5:00 PM ---------- Le Devoir (Pauline Gravel), Montreal, QC
April 10, 2003, 1:00 PM -------- ANSA, Italian Press Agency (Elio Coppola), Ottawa, ON
April 13, 2003 (issued) ---------- Tandem/Corriere Canadese (Nancy McLeod), Toronto, ON
Various communiqués and articles were published in the local Italian newspapers: in Montreal: Corriere Italiano, Cittadino Canadese, Insieme; in Ottawa: L'Ora di Ottawa; in Toronto: Corriere Canadese

Link to
Antonio Meucci dans la presse française du Canada for some reports in French
Link to for a reportage by Cristiano de Florentiis of Rai International (Zoom)

Basilio Catania's visit to Canada was jointly organized by COMITES, Toronto, ON; Consulta Meta I.M. and Antonio Meucci Centre, Montreal, QC, under the auspices of the Consul General of Italy and with the valuable support of the following sponsors:
(Main sponsor), Istituto Italiano di Cultura (both of Montreal and Toronto), Casa d'Italia Corporation, Montreal; Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science (Concordia University), Montreal; National Congress of Italian Canadians, Ottawa Region, Centro Scuola e Cultura, Toronto, Società Dante Alighieri, Toronto, Emilio Goggio Chair, Edward S. Rogers Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, Circolo Ricreativo Toscano and
Ristorante grano (owner Roberto Martella) both of Toronto.

Acknowledgment: Unless otherwise stated, photographs in this page were shot by Franco Gucciardo using Basilio Catania's own camera.

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Date last modified: 6 November 2009

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