Victor, or ‘Bibo’ as he was affectionately called, was the eldest of 13 children and was very much seen as the apple of his mother’s eye. Growing up on a tea plantation in East Africa meant there were often over twenty-five people in the house and as a result she was a wonderful cook. His father was quite the entrepreneur. Besides owning and operating the tea plantation, had dealings with the railroads, was an accountant, and there is even a story about the diamond mines in South Africa. But alas, his father never got rich.
Victor’s father Antonio was Swiss, and played the piano, accordion and loved music. He also had an uncle who played piano rather well, but Victor was really the first one in the family to succeed in life as a musician.
In 1958, Victor married Margaret Lyons, and in 1959 their son, Peter-Anthony was born. After living in both Pembroke and Ottawa, the young family moved to Toronto where Victor became organist at St. Basil’s Church and at Holy Rosary Church.
“In October, 1957, this exotic man arrived in our little town of Pembroke in Northern Ontario, Canada. I saw him one day leaving the Club Grill wearing dark glasses and a trench coat. That was it for me. In June, 1958, he asked me to come for a ride in the old Chevy he had. It had air conditioning in the floor! We stopped at the pump to get gas. When he got back in the car, he turned to me and said, “Margaret, will you marry me?” I said, “Pardon?” He repeated, “Will you marry me?” I said, “But you don’t even know me?” He said, “Yes, I do and I have already spoken with your mother.” I said, “Yes, of course I will.” We went into the restaurant for coffee and wrote our names on a paper napkin. I still have it.”
Many of Victor’s brothers and sisters now make their home in South Africa, although at one point in 1960 the entire family moved to Canada and ran an Italian restaurant in Pembroke, Ontario. Three of his sisters worked for the airlines, one was an interpreter for Canadian Pacific, and the other two worked for Air Canada (TCA at the time). They found the Canadian winter’s very harsh after the tea plantation, and decided to make the move to South Africa.
Victor’s and Margaret’s son, Peter-Anthony Togni, makes his home in Halifax, Nova Scotia where his lives with his wife, Patricia and has raised four boys. Throughout his life, Peter-Anthony has built a successful career in music through broadcasting with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, through performance and most importantly through the gift of his composition. He is a much sought after contemporary choral and orchestral composer, but his compositional repertoire is rich and varied, from Opera to his incredible talent for improvisation and jazz.