Italian immigrants settled into this area of Toronto – now known as Little Italy – beginning in the early 20th century. Known as the “mass migration” between 1880-1914, millions of Italians began emigrating to South America and the United States – with around 60,000 making their way into the great, white, north. At the time, they were looking for work and a more stable life following the Unification of Italy.
First establishing settlements in “the Ward” between 1910-1924, these Italian immigrants began buying the affordable Edwardian homes found in the area.
Fast forward to the 1950s until the 1970s, and Canada saw a boom in Italian immigration thanks to Canada’s growing economy and lifted immigration restrictions following World War II. Italians soon formed massive ethnic communities in cities, such as Toronto. Despite discrimination throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the Italian population of Toronto continued to build its community. Eventually moving north of Little Italy into the Corso Italia district.
They were eventually replaced by Portuguese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish families. Today, Little Italy reflects the many cultures who have called it home throughout the years. It’s always remained however, an Italian-inspired strip of restaurants, clubs, cultural centers and shops. A must-see for tourists and locals alike.
And the Taste of Little Italy festival, is an incredible opportunity to experience the history of this area. The sights, sounds, smells, and smiles are enough to make you wish you were Italian. Because….damn, they’re cool.
Check out the video below for scenes from the festival!