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Saturday, May 18, 2024
Italian Immigration History
The Streets Were not Paved With Gold
Italian Immigration History
The history of the Italian settlements in Canada begins with the arrival of Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) in Newfoundland in 1497.

The presence of the first Italians goes back to 1665 when soldiers from various parts of what later became Italy were recruited by the Carignac - Salières French Army’s Regiment. Italians served as soldiers under the British command during the War of 1812 in Lower Canada (Quebec).

The Italian Risorgimento is another period of Italian immigration in Canada. These are the years that brought the creation of the united Italy in 1870.

The real story of the Italian roots in Canada begins with the arrival of Italians who worked in mining, railroads, bridges and public building construction at the turn of the 20th century. Almost 2 million Italians arrived in the United States, compared to 60,000 who came to Canada between 1901 and 1911, most of them settling in Ontario. They came to make a better life for themselves and their families. Italians established their neighborhoods in Canada’s major urban centres.

The 1920s were years when Italy restricted emigration, and Canada restricted immigration due to the rise of fascism in Italy. After World War II, from 1948 – 1972, large numbers of Italians immigrated to Canada. Italy was second to Great Britain in the number of immigrants. The newcomers settled in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, and the Prairies. The Canadian labour market in these provinces expanded, which gave Italy the opportunity to act and become a leading supplier of labour. The Government of Canada encouraged the sponsorship policy, and Italians took advantage of this system. Ninety percent of the new generation of the Italian emigrants entering between 1946 and 1967 were sponsored by their Canadian relatives.

1967 was the year of a new immigration policy which restricted the sponsorship system. The number of new emigrants fell to 3.8 percent of the total entries in the 1970s.

According to recent estimates, there are more than 1.3 million Canadians who claim Italian origin.

Italian Canadians continue to make an important contribution to the Canadian multicultural society and maintain strong links to their country of origin.

The Streets Were Not Paved With Gold
An old story tells that when the Italian immigrants landed in North America, they thought they had come to find the “Promised Land”. It was said that the streets were paved with Gold and they found out three things:

1. The streets were not paved with Gold.
2. The streets were not paved.
3. They were expected to pave the streets.

Italians in Ontario
Italians in Windsor
Italians before WWII
Controversial Moments
Post War Italians

The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.


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