If a filmmaker wanted to be loose with the truth, a Bonnie & Clyde movie could easily be concocted from the lives of Italian immigrant Emilio Picariello and his female assistant.

After managing to build a mini-empire as an Italian immigrant to B.C. and Alberta, Emilio Picariello's illegal business running alcohol between BC and Alberta led to his execution, along with his female employee, Florence Lassandro. After a failed sting operation set up by the Alberta Provincial Police, Picariello had a heated argument with Constable Stephen Lawson. Shots were fired and Lawson lost his life.

After a trial, Picariello and Lassandro were hanged in Fort Saskatchewan in 1923, convicted of murder. She was the last woman executed in Alberta. In her study of the man known as "Emperor Pick", The Rise and Fall of Emilio Picariello (Oolichan 2016), Adriana Davies paints a vivid portrait of what life was like at the turn of the 20th century in the Canadian west for Italian immigrants. She revisits the trial as a cold case, suggesting that bigotry had much to do with his demise.

Researcher, writer, editor and poet Adriana Davies also wrote From Realism to Abstraction: The Art of J. B. Taylor (2014, University of Calgary Press) and co-edited The Frontier of Patriotism: Alberta and the First World War (University of Calgary Press, 2016). She was invested in the Order of Canada, in 2010 for her contributions to heritage. In 2015, she was awarded a knighthood (Cavaliere d'Italia) by the Government of Italy.


The Rise and Fall of Emilio Picariello (Oolichan 2016) 978-0-88982-318-1 $19.95