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Old 06-22-2011, 07:35 PM
 
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When people think of big American cities like NYC, Chicago and Philly, they often think of Italian-Americans, heaps of pasta, chowing down on Italian beef, lively delis and butcher shops, historic mobsters like Capone, people saying "fugeddaboutit" etc etc....but when people think of Toronto, they usually think of either anglo-saxons or more recent, nonwhite immigrants.

Yet, Toronto statistically has tons of Italian-descended peoples, and the suburb of Vaughan is over 70 percent Italian and it's no small suburb either. I don't think any suburb or town in NY or Jersey comes close to 70 percent Italians.

Even though people don't seem to equate Toronto with being a huge Italian-North American center, i would venture to guess thatit probably has a higher percentage of Italians in its metro than Chicago or Philly, or even NYC. Anyone have real numbers?

So why is Toronto's Italian community have such a low profile? Is it because they immigrated there later than they did to American cities and haven't yet fully become an assimilated part of the city's greater identity and infrastructure. Has the Canadian policy of multiculturalism (opposed to the US melting pot), kept Italians apart from the general Canadian community and away from the public eye?

Im not saying Italians are invisible in Toronto, but you gotta admit that for a city with such a huge Italian community, you just don't get that Italian-North American vibe you get when you think of NYc, Philly, or even Boston and Chicago
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Old 06-22-2011, 07:44 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Good points. I agree, when people think of Toronto it's either Anglo, Chinese, or Indian. But if you actually lived in the city you'd know we have a huge presence. That's all that's really relevant IMO. When people look at immigration history of a city they absorb the late history and the most recent (IE Indians/Chinese and Anglo's), and disregard anything in between.

Btw, the Indian population of the actual city of Toronto is miniscule. As they're REALLY REALLY REALLY recent immigrants, most of them are out in the burbs of Brampton, Mississauga, and Markham. A majority of them live in the communities that were established in the last 20-30 years or so. To find an Indian over the age of 30 in Toronto without some sort of an accent is extremely rare.

Toronto has two Little Italy's, is that not enough recognition to the Italians?



Additionally, I would encourage you to actually visit Toronto before making such brash claims.

Last edited by ThroatGuzzler; 06-22-2011 at 07:52 PM..
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Old 06-22-2011, 08:19 PM
 
Location: Columbus
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I hear Toronto has to major Italian districts: Corso Italy correct me if I am wrong and also Little Italy. so as you can see Italian ancestory is very big in T.O. Now I didn't visit these areas when i was down there but I heard they were nice to visit and I plan on doing so in the near future.
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Old 06-22-2011, 09:47 PM
 
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Toronto has massive Italian presence, and they are much more recent immigrants so they still speak Italian and have Italian customs, not Italian-American culture which has been watered down. When I think Toronto (and especially Woodbridge) I think Italian for sure.
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Old 06-22-2011, 10:16 PM
 
Location: Toronto, ON
161 posts, read 492,221 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThroatGuzzler View Post
Btw, the Indian population of the actual city of Toronto is miniscule. As they're REALLY REALLY REALLY recent immigrants, most of them are out in the burbs of Brampton, Mississauga, and Markham. A majority of them live in the communities that were established in the last 20-30 years or so. To find an Indian over the age of 30 in Toronto without some sort of an accent is extremely rare.
I went to high school with quite a number of people whose parents were from India. I am 35. So there was definitely an Indian community in Toronto 30 years ago. This was in Etobicoke, though, which you may be including as a suburb.

I was very aware of a large Italian presence when I was growing up. My first part-time job was at a store way up on Steeles Ave., right by Woodbridge, and everybody I worked with and almost all of our customers were Italian. And my brother was very involved with soccer, and my dad was a volunteer coach for the West Mall soccer club, and I remember that most of the people my dad became friends with through the organization seemed to be Italian.

And, of course, there is Little Italy.

I remember repeatedly hearing statistics about how large the Italian population in Toronto was - like the largest percentage in North America or something? I don't really remember, but quite significant. And it is interesting that Toronto doesn't have the same kind of reputation for having such a large Italian community as some American cities do.
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Old 06-22-2011, 10:41 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
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The main reason Toronto's Italian culture/personality/character is not widely known is because in general Toronto's overall culture/personality/character is not very widely known either.

It is known in Toronto of course. It is also known in the rest of Canada to some degree, though not the degree that New York or Boston's Italian presences are truisms for the average American, or even most people in the (English-speaking) world.
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Old 06-22-2011, 11:20 PM
 
Location: Canada
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I'm from Canada and I never really noticed the Italian aspect of Toronto either. It's very obvious in Montreal, however. Perhaps it's because we have fewer minorities so Italian-Quebecker culture sticks out more? I'm guessing the opposite situation is why Toronto's Italians aren't really thought of by people outside the city.
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Old 06-23-2011, 12:52 AM
 
Location: CFL
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The town of Woodbridge is almost entirely Italian. At one point 87% of the residents were Italian. Not sure if that number still applies currently. Some residents only speak Italian and manage without any English.
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Old 06-23-2011, 08:16 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIMBAM View Post
I'm from Canada and I never really noticed the Italian aspect of Toronto either. It's very obvious in Montreal, however. Perhaps it's because we have fewer minorities so Italian-Quebecker culture sticks out more? I'm guessing the opposite situation is why Toronto's Italians aren't really thought of by people outside the city.
Very true. People in Montreal and Quebec do see Toronto as a diverse city. But Italian is just one (assumed) component of that diversity, along with Greek, Pakistani, Chinese, Jamaican, etc.

Also, Montrealers do tend to "look at themselves" (via Quebec TV, movies, magazines, etc.) a lot more than Torontonians do. Italian-Montrealers are often included in that self-observation.

Aside from local politicians and maybe news media personalities, even for most Torontonians the typical Italian characterization is an American-origin image like that of Tony Soprano or Rudy Giuliani.
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:32 AM
 
Location: Toronto
71 posts, read 326,368 times
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You want Italian culture I'm afraid you're going to have to go to the source. Toronto smothers culture, personality, and desire to socialize with new people/strangers (unless a business transaction is involved). Like any place outside Italy, once the second generation comes around, their Italianness is virtually whitewashed. Go to an Italian festival in the "Little Italy" areas on College St or St Clair and what do you see? The new formula lately for Italian festivals in Toronto: Latin-American bands, latin dancing, hot dog-type carts, shawarma, falafel, Mexican and S. American food stands smothering out the very few Italian food offerings (though Italian restaurants are scattered through the areas), Indian and Chinese shopkeepers [on St. Clair] hoping to capitalize on the predominantly "white", Indian, Chinese, and South-American crowds, bouncy castles and other carny kids entertainment (what does this have to do with Italian culture?)--IT IS QUITE DEPRESSING for a Canadian-Italian.

They are all bad, but the St Clair one was the first one where I did not feel a glimmer of Italian culture--it was an embarrassment and a sham to even call it an Italian festival. Probably just a ploy by some business association to distract people's attention to some fake-cultural show to get some $ and ultra-high traffic to the area for a couple of days for restaurants they can visit any time of the year. I passed by an Italian festival at Yonge and Dundas only a few weeks ago, there were probably some jazz bands that I missed (whose only connection to Italy was jazz singers/players who had Italian last names), it was HORRIFIC, as I was passing by some "comedian" with an annoying loud voice was delivering the "Pee on Toast" joke--it was just barely amusing to read this joke on the internet over a decade ago....but damn, someone thought it was a good idea to read this out word for word at an "Italian festival"? It was a very sad day in Toronto-Italian culture for me. I think the Little Italy's are only full of Italians on a good weekend. Outside of that the areas are majority non-Italians (Wasp/Anglo types, Chinese, S. Americans, Chinese and Indian).

Yes, there are a ton of Italians in Woodbridge, but like many sprawling suburbs you won't really see visible community activity as people are either holed up in their houses and only step outside their house to do landscaping, or drive to go to work (some in the factory areas bordering Woodbridge or towards Toronto...a 35-60 min drive/commute for the many that go all the way downtown) or shopping.

I think I wrote down the stats here somewhere, in all of Canada's 36M people, 800k+ are of Italian descent, probably about 15% actually speak Italian. I can't remember the stats specific to Toronto.

Disclaimer: I am born and raised in Toronto of Italian immigrants. I obtained my Italian citizenship/passport only a year or so ago in the hopes of spending an extended amount of time there some day soon. I don't give **** about soccer.

Last edited by Equalizer101; 06-23-2011 at 11:04 AM..
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