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  Alberta's Italian Community:  Demographics

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Introduction 

Early Years

Interwar Period

World War II
and After

Cultural Life 

Demographics

Research

 

by Adriana Albi Davies, Ph.D.

As various commentators have noted, census data does not provide conclusive information about numbers of members of ethnocultural communities. For Alberta, the Censuses of Canada reveal the following figures pertaining to the people of Italian ethnic origin:

  • 1901-109 
  • 1911-2,150 
  • 1921- 4,028 
  • 1931-4,766 
  • 1941-4,872 
  • 1951-5,996 
  • 1961-15,025 
  • 1971-24,805 
  • 1981-26,605 
  • 1991- 
  • 1996-58,140

It will be noted that there was a significant jump in the 1996 statistics and this was because Statistics Canada included a Census question that required the reporting of ethnic origin(s).1 The question in previous censuses focused on language spoken and did not elicit this information. According to the 1986 census, Edmontonians who list Italy as their single country of origin totaled 9,865; Edmontonians who list Italy as one of their ethnic origins totaled 8,110. This method of requesting information does not allow second and subsequent generations of Canadians of Italian origin to indicate that ancestry. Members of the Italian community have always felt that these figures are low and do not accurately reflect the various generations of Italian immigrants residing in Edmonton. The figure that Edmontonians of Italian origin prefer is in the range of 20-25,000. Based on the 1996 Census, it is clear that the Italian community's estimation of their numbers, though based on anecdotal evidence, is probably more accurate.

According to the 1991 census, the following rankings are given for Italian for Alberta cities as to the Mother Tongue2 of Immigrants by City of Residence:

  • Edmonton: 3.1% 
  • Calgary: 3.0% 
  • Red Deer: 2.1% 
  • Lethbridge: 3.3% 
  • Medicine Hat: 2.3% 
  • Fort McMurray: 0.3% 
  • Grande Prairie: 1.6%

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