In 1497 the explorer Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) planted the flag of his native Venice on Canadian soil beside the Royal Standard of England. He was the first Italian to reach Canada. It would take more than 300 years before Italian immigrants would begin to settle here. Some came during the social and economic turmoil that followed the creation of the Italian state in 1861. Many more came during the 1950s and 1960s, when Italian immigration to Canada reached its peak. Today Canadians of Italian ancestry can be found in all the provinces and territories. Italian Canadians represent the fourth largest ethnic group in the country.
Italian immigrants have done a great deal to enhance life here in Canada. They have worked in the mines of Northern Ontario, the smelters of British Colombia and construction sites in cities. They have shared their skills as tradespeople, businesspeople, farmers, artists and professionals.
Did you know?

Toronto ranks with Sao Paolo, New York, Chicago and Buenos Aires as one of the largest Italian settlements outside Italy.

This booklet is designed to help Canadians welcome new immigrants from Italy. It is a cultural profile which should be useful to employers offering jobs to Italian immigrants and to those Canadians who are part of the HOST Program and want to learn about the homeland their new friends have left behind. It may also be useful to readers who want to learn some basic information about Italy and the Italian lifestyle.
New Italian immigrants will be able to find established Italian communities in most Canadian cities. In many cities various associations and organizations reflect Italy's different regions. Often new immigrants can find their hometown's customs and dialects here. For many Canadian-Italians, the Italy they left behind is different from the one they remember. New immigrants may be surprised to see how immigrants who left Italy long ago preserve many of the old dialects and customs in Canada.
Did you know?

There are more people in Hamilton, Ontario, who came from the Sicilian town of Racalmuto than there are people in Racalmuto, Sicily. The City of Hamilton named a street after Racalmuto to honour these immigrants.

You will be able to understand the new immigrants' needs better if you try to understand the land they left behind. This booklet is meant to help you learn about Italy and its customs. Although this cultural profile provides insight into some customs, it does not cover all facets of life. The customs described may not apply in equal measure to all newcomers from Italy.