The Catalan roots // Joseph Villà

Joseph Villà

Joe Villà leaves for Austràlia [in Catalan]
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Birth certificate Joe Villà

"Joseph Villà decided to leave Montsolís in 1910 to start a new life with his second cousin and his wife, in the northeast corner of Mont Albert and Union Roads, Surrey Hills". Josephine Canals

Josep Villà Panyell married Francisca Sunyol de Villà and had five sons, but only two survived childhood,  Isidore and Joseph.

Joseph Villà was born in 1891 in Tiana and later moved to Montgat. He arrived in Melbourne in 1910 and went to live with a second cousin and his wife, John and Rosa Codina, in the northeast corner of Mont Albert and Union Roads, Surrey Hills. Then he moved to Fitzroy in a shared house with other young Catalan fellows, amongst them Joe and Tony Galimany.

Joseph Villà married Rosa Galimany at St. Joseph’s Church, West Brunswick on March 8th 1916. Joseph bought a fruit shop on Victoria Avenue in Albert Park, where their first daughter Frances was born in 1917. In 1918 they bought a farm at Drouin West, where they moved with Rosa’s mum, Margarita. Antonio stayed with his son Joe and Adelaide as he felt custom-bound to do so and died in 1922 and was buried at Burwood Cementery.

After a couple of years Joe Villà and Rosa came back to Melbourne, with mother Margarita and daughter Frances, and bought their first fish shop, on the northern side of Bridge Road, Richmond, half way down the hill between Lennox and Church St. Rose was born there on 8th August 1921. After a family trip to Spain in 1923, they bought a seafood business at 529 Glenhuntly Road, South Caulfield, where their third daughter Josephine was born on 18th May 1924. They sold the business seven years later to Mr. Salvy Casas and moved to Cheltenham. They bought another seafood business in Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn and bought a Victorian house at 9 Salisbury Grove, Hawthorn.

Frances Villà married Frank Pou (Power) in 1938, Rose married Malcolm Manning in 1945 and Josephine married Jack Canals in 1947 and had 3 sons and 3 daughters. That same year Grandma Margarita passed away, and is now buried in Burwood Cementery.

In May 1951, Joe and Rosa Villà made their second trip to Spain. Brother Isidore with wife Josefa and daughters Eulalia, Rosita and Francisco had a coffee shop opposite Montgat station. On the trip, Joe purchased a Ford Prefect sedan in England, shipped it across the English Channel and drove down to Montgat, with the opportunity to travel around Spain with his family. Joe shipped the Prefect to Australia.

In 1961, a trip to U.S., Canada and London ended up with Joe in hospital for gall bladder problems. He returned to Melbourne in 1962, where he died the same year after the operation and is now buried at Burwood Cementery.

In August 1963 Rosa moved to North Road, Ormond, where she lived on her own, close to daughter Frances. After a period of rehabilitation in hospital after a hip fracture, she moved in with Josephine at 7 Parkview Avenue, East Brunswick.

In February 1990, Rosa went to Spain with daughters Josephine and Rose, and Josee’s daughter Julie, where they met with youngest daughter Anita who was travelling in Europe. Back in Melbourne, after a few hospitalisation periods, Rosa passed away in 1993, at 96 years of age.