Italians in Canada


An Italian Canadian is a Canadian of Italian descent or heritage. According to the 2006 census of Canada, 1,445,335 Canadians (4.6% of total population) consider themselves to be of Italian origin. The Italian-Canadian population climbed by more than 12% and half (over 700,000) have combined Italian origins along with another ethnic group, mostly other European ethnic groups.[1] Altogether, Italians continue to be the 5th largest ethnic group in Canada after British and Irish origins, French origin and German origin.

Since the turn of the century, Italians have immigrated to the Americas in search of opportunities to better their quality of life. Since the days of Giovanni Caboto's voyage in 1497, millions of Italians have settled here.

Between 1876 and 1915 for example, more than seven million Italians immigrated. While the United States proved to be the destination of choice by the majority of these people, Argentina, Brazil and Canada were not far behind. By 1910, the Italian population in Toronto grew and became more permanent in the neighborhood's known as "Little Italy". Italian immigrants used their agricultural skills, knowledge of fruits and vegetables to established themselves in the food wholesale and retail sector. As the people became more settled, many sent for their wives and family from Italy. By 1921 the female Italian population in Toronto was only slightly less than that of the male population.

During the 1920s and 30's the flow of immigration was significantly reduced due to government policies stemming from social, economic and political realities of the day. Between 1946 and 1983 it is estimated that 433,159 to 507,057 Italians came to Canada. Of these, 70 per cent came from southern Italy, 12 per cent from central and 18 per cent from the north. By the late 1980s several generations of Italian Canadians, numbering approximately 500,000 people, made the greater Toronto area, their permanent home of choice.

The world these immigrants found was indeed different but in contrast, full of opportunity. Today we all live and share in the society they helped to shape and create. Brick by brick, these people helped to build the physical structure, develop the social fabric and create the economic environment we all enjoy. With the use of local social clubs and associations, Italian radio, Italian newspaper, and community centers, they protected and promoted their heritage and traditions.

As for today's generation, they too continue to contribute and influence all sectors of society. Whether it is the building or development industry, the legal, political, social, education, health, the trades, or other professions, their determination to succeed despite the prevailing challenges, is very much alive and well. A much improved quality of life and opportunities in reaching one's full potential, is indeed the legacy our early Italian pioneers leave the present and future generations. For this we are eternally grateful.

See the Canadian Italian page on Wiki
Civilization.ca - Presenza: A New Look at Italian-Canadian Heritage
Immigration of Italian Labourers to Montreal and the Alleged Fraudulent Practices of Employment Agencies (pdf)
Check out the Valigia d'Oro Awards site


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