The origins of the village
The first document on the existence of Canale is a paper written in Carfon di Canale (then it was called Conforio) on 12 May 1148. It attests to the fact that some lands were given by the parish priest of Agordo to Sibilina, a member of his family. The document quotes the village of Peteguno (that is to say Pettigogno: the central part of Canale). Successively the village is named in the bull of Pope Lucio III in 1185, where it is listed along with the very old church of San Simon di Vallada, then called San Simon of Canale (“cappellam Sancti Simonis Canalis, de supra”). About the 14th century, mining industry started in the iron, lead and mercury caves at Sass Négher and Sàis (two mountains of the Garés valley): the first forges for metal melting were built at “I Forn” and “Medavàl”. The iron coming from these forges was used to make very good swords for the Most Serene Republic of Venice.
Political life was organized by the ‘Regole’ (rules) (a form of ruling over the wood, land and public territory) in a democratic way, with equal power and dignity for all the heads of a family. In the municipality of Canale there were three of them. The representatives of the Regole elected two deputees in sinu and the latter took part into the General Syndicate of Agordino.
As for spiritual life, Confraternities got more and more important, and the most important among all was the Confraternita della B. V. dei Battuti (Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin of the Beaten), whose old seat was next to the church. At the very beginning, its centre was near the Church of St Simon in Vallada Agordina (the ancient building is still there next to the church) but in the 15th century the Confraternity moved to Canale. Its task was to give food and spiritual accommodation to pilgrims, for no more than three days. The Confraternities also looked after the economic management of the church. They were often bound to the title of one of the altars of the Pieve: so there was the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, the Confraternity of the St Rosary, of St Antony of Padua, of the Suffrage.
Important people were born in the Pieve of Canale, including the neighbour villages of Caviola, Falcade and Vallada: the most important of all was Pope John Paul I (Albino Luciani, 1912-1978), who will be soon beatified; the sculptors Giovanni Marchiori (1696-1778), Benedetto Da Pos (1831-1920), Pietro Lazzaris (1857-1917), Amedeo Da Pos (1870-1966), Augusto Murer (1920-1985), Dante Moro (1933-2009); the painters Giuseppe Zais (1709-1781), Giuliano De Rocco (1934) and Dunio Piccolin (1975); the rural poet Valerio Da Pos (1740-1822); the vernacular poets Luigi Lazzaris (1816-1906) and Pietro Follador (1827-1872); the historian Francesco Pellegrini (1826-1903); the Jesuit Father Felice Cappello, the socalled “Confessor of Rome” (1879-1962), whose beatification process has been opened since 1988; Franco Manfroi (1939-2005), the cross-country skiing world champion in Oslo in 1966 .
Thanks to the wit of Rev. Antonio Della Lucia (1824-1906), the archpriest, the first Italian Cooperative Dairy was created (1872) in Canale along with the first Rural Nursery School of the Province of Belluno (1868). The Zannini Family, founder of the Pedavena Brewery (1847) came from Canale and successively moved to Pedavena.
In the 19th century, tourism started to develop with the building of “Al Gallo”, the first hotel in the Biois valley. It was run by the Dartora Family and the first excursionists coming down from the Pale di San Martino across the Altopiano delle Comèlle stayed there overnight. Among them there were John Ball (1818-1889), the Irish climber, in summer 1857, Francis Fox Tuckett (1834-1913), the British climber, in summer 1865, the geographer Olinto Marinelli (1876-1926) and in 1899 the climber Alfred von Radio-Radiis.