Italians have made a significant impact on the culture of Canada. In 1497, Giovanni Caboto, also known as John Cabot, landed on the shores of Newfoundland. The first settlement of Italians dates back to 1665. Early 1900’s, the first wave of Italian immigrants came to Canada. This was a period of increased industrialization, numerous Italian men left their villages to come and work on the railroads, bridges and public buildings. They came as seasonal labourers to make their fortunes so to return to Italy and live out their lives in comfort, and many chose to stay, the seeds of the Canadian-Italian Community were sown!
In 1906, the first settlers were British and Scottish immigrants. In 1910, Earlscourt was annexed by the City. After the Great Depression of the 1930’s, the area was primarily Jewish with Jewish merchants dominating the commercial strip. In the 1950’s, another wave of Italian immigrants arrived, many Jewish merchants began to move further north. Earlscourt was subsequently known as Corso Italia as a predominantly Italian neighbourhood. The streetscape lined with Italian grocery stores, cafés, restaurants and social clubs gave the area a distinctive flavour. Corso Italia with its small, family-run shops, catered to fellow-countrymen and was recognized as the centre of the Italian Community in Toronto.
In 1982, Italy won the World Cup, it was estimated that more than 500,000 people celebrated the victory on the street in Corso Italia. A world-wide broadcast of this celebration was instrumental in the opening of the first Canadian branch of the Banca Commerciale Italiana. It is said that upon witnessing the sea of Italian flags on the street, the senior officials of the bank were so inspired by the sight they felt they had to open a branch in Canada and chose the Corso Italia area as the location for their first branch.
Corso Italia is also famous for the first licensed outdoor café in Toronto “La Sem Pattiserie & Cafe”. At the time, city officials were reluctant to license the establishment, as they believed “no one would want to eat or drink outdoors”! In 1963, local alderman, Joseph J. Piccininni was able to convince city council to allow outdoor cafes.
Recognized as the first home for the largest wave of Italian immigration in Canada’s history, Toronto’s Corso Italia continues today as the focal point for celebrating Italian Culture with the annual street festival party celebrations and is home to one the largest gathering of soccer fans during World and European Cup football matches.
Come experience the warmth, hospitality and vitality of a community where the roots of European culture remain strong and vibrant!
Corso Italia on St. Clair is also known for it’s fashionable shops that reflect what’s hot in Europe. Top-of-the-line Fashion shops draw crowds, as do a multitude of cafes, restaurants, trendy gelaterias and cappuccino houses offering the flavors of various Italian Regions.
We invite you to visit us and experience our warm and friendly hospitality!
This is where you can find out anything about Corso Italia. Whether you live, run a business, shop or are visiting our neighbourhood, you’ll want to Bookmark this site and check back often!