Italian Immigration to Canada
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
What is emigration??
o Emigration (exit) is the act of leaving one country or region to settle in another
What is immigration??
o Immigration (in) is the act of arriving in another country for the purposes of settlement
In the beginning...
Cristoforo Colombo, Genoese, sailed for Spain in 1492, came upon shores of N. America in search
o In search of spices and other luxurious things
Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) sailed for England in 1497, landed on shores of Newfoundland
o Bona vista Habour: John Cabot said Bona vista when finally reaching there
Amerigo Vespucci of Florence explored shores of Venezuela, name given to America
Jesuit priests in New France, esp. Father Giuseppe Bressani, in Huronia (present day Ste. Marie
among the Hurons, Midland, Ontario)
o New France (present day Quebec)
1500-1870: sizable number of Italians go to British colonies of Americas
Post-1861: by end 19th century 7 million Italians left= Italy's #1 social and economic problem
o Italy became a country in 1861; it was an unstable period because they had too many
1901: record year for emigration - 533,000 Italians left
Post-WWII: 7 million more Italians left over 30 year period
Why did Italians leave??
To escape political persecution
Precarious economic situation
o Wanted to seek out a better future
Lack of industrialization in all parts of Italy
Agriculture sector not supported by new fiscal policies
Mechanical production replaces human resources
Disappearance of local markets
o Relied on agriculture for most of there money but this was changing; which was putting
people out of work
30 years post-unification-> 67% emigrants came from North (11% from Central Italy, 22% from
20th century: greater exodus from South due to soil exhaustion, chronic lack of money and
growing debt-> Southern Question
They were not ready for the new economy; lack of money for investing
o This exodus started in the North and then shifted to the South
Southerners left to buy land elsewhere; to avoid military conscription; to ensure dowry for
daughters -> dwindling labour force Canada-bound
Emigration from Italy historically radiated to: Western Europe, S. America, N. America
Latin America, esp. Brazil and Argentina, did not require sponsorship = attractive to emigrants
Post-1880s, USA needed unskilled workers due to major industrial expansion-> process of
industrialization also spilled over into Canada
19th century: Italian immigrants concentrated in Montreal
Who were the immigrants??
Single males from the trades
Temporary/seasonal workers: worked on railroads, canal construction, natural resources (i.e.
1888: 600 labourers working on Hereford rail line in Southeastern Quebec, rural Ontario, West;
recruited from USA
Employment agents (aka padroni) in Montreal and Toronto = easier recruitment
Why did Italians choose Canada??
Need for unskilled workers (of 8,576 men working f