elevated jws8m Celestina Belluz (née Zanette) was born in Azzano Decimo, Friuli in Italy, on May 15, 1922, shortly after the end of the First World War. Her parents, Maria and Paolo, were farmers, and Celestina spent her childhood helping around the house and tending to their property — caring for the pigs and chickens, planting the garden, cooking, and washing clothes.
elevated jws8m By grade five, Celestina had left school. And by early adolescence, she’d identified the man she wanted to marry: Gino Belluz, the eldest son of farmers who lived half a kilometer down the road. They started dating, but their plans to marry were upended by the Second World War. Gino was drafted into the Italian army in 1940. Celestina stayed behind, living in fear of being targeted in the frequent bombs and strafings raining down around their homestead.
elevated jws8m When the war ended, in 1945, Gino returned to Azzano and married Celestina on November 17. A year later, their first son Renzo was born. With Europe’s economy in tatters following the wars, Celestina and Gino decided to leave Italy, dreaming of the prospect of an education and a better life for the next generation. Gino departed for Toronto in 1950, and a year later, Celestina and Renzo took the long boat ride over, first arriving in Halifax and then Toronto.
elevated jws8m In Canada, Gino started working as a laborer, and to earn extra money, Celestina turned their home into a residence for boarders who had also recently arrived from Italy. Again, her job was caring for the home and people around her: buying copious amounts of food, cooking meals, and mending and washing their clothes. In 1955, their second son, Paul, was born.
elevated jws8m By then, Gino and Celestina were firmly embedded in Toronto’s Italian community, life-long members of the Famee Furlane and Azzanese Clubs for the city’s Friulian families. They’d achieved the kind of economic stability they went to Canada hoping for. When Gino finally retired, in the mid-80s, they split their time among their home in Toronto, farm and cottage north of the city, and condo in Florida.
elevated jws8m Through all this hard work, Celestina developed a legendary discipline. She organized the days of each week around a fixed schedule of chores: shopping for groceries on one day, sewing on another, baking, cleaning. Beginning in the late 1970s, before it was fashionable, she’d wake up every morning to exercise, and later added a blended mixture of raw fruits and vegetables to her routine. (She adhered to that program for more than four decades, into her late 80s.) She also perfected the art of gardening and sewing, even making complicated Chanel clothing patterns by hand.
elevated jws8m Above all, it’s her cooking that her family will remember. Celestina expressed her deep love of family through her meals. She’d set the table every night for a multi-course feast, one that her husband, kids, and grandkids would eagerly anticipate. The table would fill with home-made gnocchi and wine, involtini or chicken cacciatore, perfectly seasoned vegetables grown from her farm and garden, always followed by a cheese plate and fresh fruit. She relished hosting big celebrations — Christmases with mortadella-stuffed capons and home-made panettone; Easters with raisin-specked frittole. She taught her children, daughters-in-law, and grandkids her tricks around the kitchen, and through these recipes her memory will live on.
elevated jws8m On May 15, 2020 — exactly 98 years after she was born — Celestina died of Covid-19 in Toronto, 22 years after Gino’s death. She leaves behind her sons Renzo and Paul, their wives Janet and Jean, as well as five grandchildren (Richard, Christopher, Julia, David, and Mark), and three great-grandchildren, (Beckett, Ava, and Theodor).
elevated jws8m Due to the pandemic, the family will have a small, outdoor burial service next to the mausoleum at Holy Cross Cemetery. In lieu of flowers and a visitation, if you would like to recognize Celestina, please consider a donation to the Villa Leonardo Gambin Front Line Fund, which was established to provide extra support for the healthcare workers who are caring for our seniors in this very difficult and hazardous work environment.
Dear Renzo Janet and family. I can’t tell you how sorry I am that your mother had to leave this world in such a way. She sounded like a remarkable mother and nonna!!! You will have to cherish the wonderful memories you all have! We will pray for her!
Susan and Simon and family.
She was a great aunt and will be sadly missed.
Dear Renzo, Janet, Paul, Jean and families: our sincerest condolences on your loss. Celestina will be greatly missed. As a child, every Christmas, Celestina and Gino would bring a gift to me. It was wrapped exquisitely! I never wanted to open it. She was very gifted! Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you at this difficult time.
Sarah, Robert, Denise Zucchetto and families
Zia was the Queen of the Inas – Celestina, Vittorina, Evelina, and Landina – she had a way of doing things and we all followed because it was just right. I remember all the wonderful parties with home made food and dancing that were always held at the Belluz household. A strong person both physically and in character. They just do not make them like her anymore. Zia we will miss you very much. You have left us with great memories. Condolences to Renzo, Paolo and families. May she RIP. She is now celebrating in heaven with zio and nonni. May God Bless you all Loretta, Danny, Annalisa, Chris, & Gianpaolo Cal
Dear Renzo Paul and families, sorry to here about Celestina’s passing. We will always remember her fondly. sending our deepest condolences. Ivana and Frank Alvaro.
Dear Renzo and Paul,
Thank you for giving me an opportunity to take care of her and allowing me to be apart of some of the last phase of her life. Never will I forget the funny (yet supporting ) expressions she made when I would deck her up with jewellery and lipstick. Nor will I ever forget the strong women she was even at 95 . It was truly a privilege to care for such an amazing women. She was an awesome, loving and a beautiful soul. Condolences to the entire Belluz and extended family. Rest in Peace Celestina.