Little Italy is in Toronto.
Bending itself along College Street from Bathurst Street to Dovercourt, bounded by Harbord Street to the North and Dundas Street to the south, Little Italy is one of the numerous Italian neighbourhoods in Toronto, and is the best known. The heart of this trendy district with a European flair is College and Clinton Streets. Trendy bars, restaurants and shops emanate In both directions, offering a wide selection of comestibles and tchotchkas to would-be patrons. During the summer months, locals from near and far sun themselves on boulevard patios or enjoy an elixir in the balmy evening air.
Vacated by suburb-seeking Canadians of Anglo-Saxon descent, the affordable Victorian homes that line the side streets of this neighbourhood were bought up by Italian immigrants, many of whom found work on the railroads and in road construction. This influx of Italians in the community led to the opening of a number of Italian-owned businesses along College Street. It was during the 1920’s that this area became recognized as the residential and commercial centre of Toronto’s Italian community.
After the Second World War, Canada relaxed its immigration policy triggering a massive influx of Italian immigrants to Toronto. A large proportion of these immigrants made their way to College Street West, buying property from the previous generation of Italian immigrants, who, during Toronto’s boom years, moved to St. Clair West (Corso Italia) or more distant suburbs such as Woodbridge. Later, as the Italians moved out, the Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese families moved in. In recognition of its history, the local College Street business association officially adopted the “Little Italy” moniker in 1985. Today, Little Italy's population is quite ethnically diverse, all the while maintaining its Italian-European flair. - M.S.