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  History of Italian Emigration to Canada

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Family Unification
and Settlement

 Fascist Era
Post  World War II

Cultural Life

by Adriana Albi Davies, Ph.D.

Italians have been coming to Canada for many years.  This illustration shows the size of Italy relative to Canada.  Artwork by the Heritage Community Foundation.Italians have been coming to Canada for many years-the most illustrious being Giovanni Caboto [John Cabot].  In the 18th century and early part of the 19th century, they came as mercenaries and even missionaries (associated with orders such as the Oblates of Mary Immaculate).  

The real push to emigrate came with the unification of Italy. Italian workers were instrumental in developing and maintaining many of the branch railway lines across the country.  They become explosives experts and did the rock blasting, for example, on the Crowsnest Pass.  This image was obtained from individuals interviewed for the Italians Settle in Edmonton Oral History Project and reproduced in the commemorative booklet of that name. By 1870. southern Italians believed their interests in the new Italy dominated by the northern states were being ignored.  As well, economic unrest and unemployment forced Italians from other regions to look for work abroad.  Beginning in the 1880s, their primary destination was the United States, but they also began to come to Canada.  They worked on the railways, forestry camps, mines, construction-anywhere that strong hands and back could help them to gain a living.  Join us in this section as we look at about 150 years of Italian settlement history in Canada.

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Copyright © 2002 Adriana Albi Davies, Ph.D. and The Heritage Community Foundation

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