The first Italians were already present and active in Canada in the colonial era from the early exploration journeys of the 16th century until the early 19th century, even if it will only be with the 20th century that we can talk about mass migration.
With the industrialization of some Canadian cities like Toronto and Montréal, immigration began to become urban and sedentary because work was more constant and no longer following the seasonal climatic changes as was the case for work in the fields.
While remaining a predominant component of the workforce in the construction sector, the Italians then also found employment in industries, in small local crafts, in the fruit and vegetable retail trade and, blameworthy because it often involved minors, in the streets to play the accordion.
The city of Montréal, currently the second Italian community of Canada resides numerically after that of Toronto, had the largest Little Italy, going by the name of Petite Italie in French given the French-speaking context of Canada.
In the 20th century became the second largest immigrant ethnic group in the city after the Jewish community with a slow, but continuous growth. The most striking characteristics of the first Italian communities in Canada, which remained unchanged even in the following decades, were the organization of ethnic institutions and the intensity of community life marked by the strong religious sentiment and attachment to the patronal feasts of the country of origin.
Many third generation Italians who live in Montréal today have never lived in Petite Italie, yet it is here that they find their roots, the cultural heritage of their community and meet for an evening with friends or to watch a soccer match together, especially during the World Cup.
The Italian communities often collaborate with Italian expats trying to make the new Italian culture known through two channels mainly: social media and events.
There are several Facebook pages giving space to new Italian artists, often emerging ones and they try to convey the new trends that are in fashion in Italy at the moment. They organize several events always useful for the purpose. For example, giving space to an Italian Canadian photographer who exhibits his photos of Rome all accompanied by pizza slices, prosecco and coffee.
Although Covid limited this event this year, the Italian Week is ready to welcome you to Little Italy for an event which has been coloring the Montréal summers. In collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute of Montréal, this year the tricolor event was also held in other districts of the city.
Numerous activities are scheduled, which will allow the public to experience the rich and fascinating Italian culture: open-air opera, fashion shows under the stars, concerts of classical and popular music, Italian cars exhibitions, cooking lessons and wine tastings in the Old Port, tiramisu competitions and also a draw for a prize trip to Italy without forgetting the kiosks of the main tricolor associations in the city (crafts, tourism and gastronomy), guided tours of Little Italy and screening of films in Italian or documentaries about Italy.