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Wednesday, September 18, 2019
 
Timeline
Italian Presence in the Great Lakes Region
Language mix-up
The First Known Italian to Arrive and Live in Windsor
The Italians of Leamington
Timeline
   
 
1911
95 people of Italian origin were in the Windsor area
 
1921
429 people of Italian origin were in the Windsor area
 
1931
2,023 people of Italian origin were in the Windsor area
 
2001
12,335 people in the Greater Windsor area listed Italian as their mother tongue
 
2001
30,685 people in the Greater Windsor area listed their ethnic origin as Italian (about 1/10th of the population)
Italians represent the 4th largest Canadian ethno cultural group in the country.
  In Windsor, Italians are the 3rd largest group after the British and the French.
     
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Italian Presence in the Great Lakes Region
   
  Italians were present in the Great Lakes region long before the founding of Detroit in 1701. Two Neapolitan brothers, Enrico (Henri) and Alphonse de Tonti were among the first to serve the French regime in this region. Enrico (or Henri) was chief aid to LaSalle in the exploration of the Great Lakes and travelled through the Detroit-Windsor strait toward the end of the 1670s. Alphonse, his older brother who was the first recorded Italian to arrive in what is now Detroit, held posts throughout the Great Lakes region. He was Captain of Mackinaw from 1697-1700, governor of Frontenac from 1706-1716, and governor of Detroit from 1717 until his death in 1727. He supervised the building of Fort Pontchartrain. Besides owning trading rights in the area, he also owned a farm on Belle Isle.
 
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Language mix-up
 
  The Italian origin of many settlers seems to be hidden in the French and English phonetic transcription of their names. Historians have uncovered numerous Italians, whose names had been transformed or mangled, who had settled in the 1700s in the Detroit area. For example, the first priest to arrive in Detroit in 1706, Constantine del Halle, was in reality Costantino del Halio, who was of a noble Florentine family. Another example is found in 1748, when the Huron Mission farm on the west side of the present Huron Church Line was granted to a Nicholas Campeau. He was brought from Montreal by his parents as a child and was most likely the son of Michel or Jacques Campo whose name in New France had been Gallicised, changing Campo to Campeau. Thus the descendant of an Italian settler can be said to have been one of the first farmers in this area.
 
 
The First Known Italian to Arrive and Live in Windsor
 
 
The first known Italian to arrive and live in Windsor in the 1860s was Matteo Palmieri (1826-1916). He was a fuoruscito, a patriot of the struggle for Italian unification known as the Risorgimento. He was also a girovago, an itinerant worker, as is illustrated by his story. Originally from Naples, he fought with Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1849, fled to France, then to England, and then to Quebec, where he worked as a mine supervisor. By 1865, he was a photographer in Detroit, after a brief stay in Windsor. Between 1868-71, he resided in Windsor with his wife Mary, a music teacher, but he later moved back to Detroit. Finally, in 1910, at the age of eighty-four, Palmieri returned to Windsor to live with his daughter, Mrs. George Mitchell, at 181 Windsor Street where he died on February 26, 1916. After 1873, the year he founded the Italian Benevolent Society, of which he was also the first president, Palmieri devoted much of this time to assisting immigrants. .. (Walter Temelini, The Italians in Windsor, Polyphony Vol. 7, No. 2)
   
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The Italians of Leamington
   
 

(Source of Information: La Gazzetta)

The first Italian group arrived in Leamington (a small town, 30 miles South East of Windsor), in 1924 from Villa Canale, Campobasso Province (today Isernia Province). From that time on many relatives and friends were drawn to come and built a better life in this area.

The fortune for the Italians was the land, the vines, the fruits, vegetables, etc. Most of the products are shipped all over Canada. Leamington is called The Tomato Capital City of Canada for the quantity of the tomatoes produced. Many Italians dedicated their work to agriculture for the first years and later they started to expand in other workplaces and industry. The beginning was very hard and full of sacrifices, but today the Italians in Leamington enjoy a respectable place among the other communities not only economically, but socially too. Most of today’s generations hold the last name Mastronardi, Ingratta, Coppola, Pannunzio, Palomba, Ricci, Sabelli, Cacciavillani, Colasanti, Di Menna and others.

Since 1960, the Italians in Leamington have their club named “Roma Club”. The building was built in 1962 at Conc.1, Mersea. The first President of the club was Gino Di Menna. Also, past presidents were Don Puglia, V. Ricci, R. Paliani, Armando Masciotra, etc.

The Italians of Leamington have contributed not only in the agricultural field, industry and civil welfare, but they are also well known for their artistic endeavors.

   
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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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