Did you know that the first Italian immigrants arrived in Montréal in the 17th century? They were recruited by the French army. Members of the community initially settled the southern neighbourhoods of the city, nearly the ports and train stations, and eventually migrated north to the area we call Little Italy today.
These recent arrivals quickly found work in construction; many Italian men were labourers by trade. Quickly, this new Italian community made a name for itself and much to the delight of Montrealers, many cafés and restaurants showcasing traditional Italian delicacies, started popping up around the city.
Strangely enough, the Great Depression was a prosperous time for certain neighbourhoods, namely the Italian quarter. A number of major building projects were initiated in the area in the 1930s, including work on our beloved Jean-Talon Market! The market was inaugurated in 1933 and, over the years, has become one of the most important open-air markets in all of North America.
The Second World War had a huge impact on Italian immigration. A second significant wave of Italian immigrants arrived in Montréal between 1948 and 1970; these families, who made their way to Canada thanks to the country’s sponsorship program, would make Little Italy the vibrant area we know today.
In 1901, Montréal was home to 1,400 individuals of Italian descent. Ten years later, that number would grow to 7,000. Today, Montréal’s Italian community is made up of 260,000 people, making it one of the largest in the entire city.
Little Italy, located on Saint-Laurent Boulevard between St-Zotique and Jean-Talon, is still the epicenter of cultural life in Montréal. The Italian community enjoys a rich history and has contributed greatly to life in the city. Every day, throngs of Montrealers and visitors from elsewhere wander through the Jean-Talon Market; it’s an absolute must-visit for foodies from all around the globe!
Crédit couverture : Mémorable Montréal
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