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How Toronto's Little Italy Contributed To The City's Rich History

"College Street didn't start out as being Little Italy, though."


From events like the Taste of Little Italy and the Good Friday procession to the watching of football during the Euro and World Cups, Toronto's Little Italy has made itself a key destination for many Torontonians.

The neighbourhood can be found extending along College Street, west of the city's downtown region. "But that's actually up to who you ask," says Toronto Historian Morgan Cameron Ross, noting that "if you look north to St. Clair, there's Corso Italia."

And in the early 20th century, large numbers of Italian immigrants had settled elsewhere in the city in an area known as The Ward, before "thousands of them would shift towards College Street in the years following," says Ross.

Throughout its history, the neighbourhood has not only been home to major Toronto events, but also notable residents like Johnny Lombardi. "A person can't talk about Little Italy without talking about Johnny Lombardi," explains Ross, "the man who founded CHIN and really promoted and helped ethnic diversity within media."

Like many other neighbourhoods in the city, the College Street-based area continued to change over the years and recent decades and while "you will see elements of Italian culture," says Ross, you'll also find a "significantly more diverse group of people."

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