|The history of the Italian settlements in Canada
begins with the arrival of Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) in Newfoundland
The presence of the first Italians goes back to 1665 when
soldiers from various parts of what later became Italy were
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,
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
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
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.