Cavallotti Lodge was founded in 1865,Bartolomeo Corso, Joe Vazzo and Joe Cuffalo. Corso divided his time between fishing and farming, and the occasional logging. Cuffalo worked in the mines and managed to save enough money to build the Wellington Hotel located in South Wellington. When this burned down, he built the Italian Hotel (Columbus Hotel) on Haliburton street in 1885.
On November 4th, 1900 the Felice Cavallotti Mutual Relief Society was formed at Extension BC (just 15 South of Nanaimo), named after the nineteenth century poet and politician who was known for his efforts to bring democracy to Italy.
There were 54 founding members of the Society, all male until 1946 when women were admitted to membership. The first president was John Giovando.
Other chapters of the society were soon formed in Nanaimo and Cumberland. The society’s mission was to help Italian coal miners and their familes. Since there was no social programs inn existence at the time, injured miners or the sick had to rely on friends and for aid until a group of miners banded together to help each other out.
To be able to join the the society one had to be of Italian ancestry, and dues were one dollar per month, the going rate for room and board at the time. In the event of an injury or sickness a member was eleigble to receive benefits in the amount of one dollar per day for the first 100 days, then $15 per month for a further 12 months.
Today the Felice Cavallotti Lodge is still going and has a membership of 300??. While the membership still has a strong contingent of Italians descendants it has opened its doors to all.
While the relief fund is no longer in effect the Cavallotti Lodge doe stand behind its members in times of need and is a strong supporter of the community of Nanaimo.
The lodge provides its members with a place to meet and carry on the traditions of Italian cards games (Tressette) Bocci in the spring summer and a number of traditional Italian dinners throughout the year.
The Cavallotti Lodge is a strong supporter of the local community. The Cavallotti Lodge is a non profit society and operates from membership dues and monies raised through traditional dinners and dances, hall rentals and volunteered services from its membership.