Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Little Italy, Toronto
Little Italy, sometimes referred to as College Street West or College and Clinton, is one of the numerous Italian Canadian neighbourhoods in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and is the best known. Bounded by Bathurst Street to the east, College Street to the north, Ossington Avenue to the west, and Dundas Street to the south, Little Italy is a chic and trendy district that is centred around a restaurant/bar/shopping strip along College Street, the heart of which being the intersection of College and Clinton Streets.
Italians arrived in Toronto in large numbers during the early 20th century. Italians first settled in an area then known as "The Ward" - centred around University Avenue and College Street. By the 1920s, most Italians had moved west of Bathurst Street and the College-Clinton area had emerged as the city's major Little Italy. The affordable Victorian homes that line the side streets of this neighbourhood were bought by Italian immigrants, many of whom found work on the railways and in road construction. These houses were vacated by the suburb-seeking Canadians of Anglo-Saxon descent, which led to an influx of Italians in the community, and the opening of a number of Italian-owned businesses along College Street.
Many Italians moved out of the area during the 1950s and 1960s, and headed northwest to the "Corso Italia" neighbourhood around St. Clair Avenue and Dufferin Street, or to adjacent suburbs. By the 1960s, St. Clair Avenue had supplanted College Street as the centre of Italian culture in Toronto. Within the past three decades, many Italian Torontonians moved to Toronto's suburbs. There are now further concentrations of Italian Canadians in Weston, Downsview and Jane and Finch in Toronto; Woodbridge and Maple in Vaughan; Richmond Hill, and Mississauga.
Today, Little Italy's population is ethnically diverse. By the 1960s, the Portuguese had become the largest ethnic group, and were later joined by East Asians and South Americans. Little Italy has also become quite popular with younger crowds because of its vibrant nightlife and its proximity to the downtown core. Since the 1980s, many young professionals have been buying homes in the neighbourhood.
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