Italian Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area

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Toronto has a large Italian Canadian community, with 30.5% of the ethnic Italians in Canada living in the Greater Toronto Area as of 2016.[1] Toronto is home to the fourth largest Italian population outside of Italy, behind São Paulo, Brazil, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and New York City, respectively. As of the Canada 2016 Census, there were 484,360 Italian Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area.[2]

"Soldiers of fortune" and educated people from Italy immigranted to Toronto prior to the 1850s. Toronto absorbed pedlars and craftspeople from northern Italy until the 1880s. 17 Italians lived in Toronto by 1860. Additional tradespeople arrived by 1870. After the 1880s many came from northern Italy, with most being from Genoa. The occupations tended to be craftspeople, service tradespeople, and pedlars.[3]

Italian immigration continued into the post-World War II era. 90% of the Italians who immigrated to Canada after World War II remained in Canada. During that period the community still had fluency in the Italian language.[4]


Little Italy (in Palmerston–Little Italy) and Corso Italia are the city's Little Italies.

Many Italians moved out of Little Italy, with several having moved to northwest Toronto, Vaughan, King, Richmond Hill, and then into Markham.[5]

The York Region communities of Vaughan and King, Ontario, with Vaughan being located just north of Toronto, and King being just north of Vaughan, have nearly 100,000 and 10,000 Italian Canadian residents respectively, each accounting for over 30% of their respective total population; these two areas have the largest concentrations of Italian Canadians in Canada.[6]


Canadians of Italian descent in the Greater Toronto Area by municipality (2016)[1]
Municipality Population Percent of
Toronto 182,500 6.8%
York 159,465 14.5%
Peel 88,115 6.4%
Halton 44,690 8.3%
Durham 36,915 5.8%
Greater Toronto 484,360 8.3%

In terms of cities/towns the breakdown is as follows:

City/Town Population Percent of
Toronto 182,495 6.8%
Vaughan 94,725 31.1%
Mississauga 44,840 6.3%
Brampton 25,185 4.3%
Richmond Hill 19,210 9.9%
Caledon 18,095 27.3%
Oakville 16,900 8.8%
Markham 12,060 3.7%
King 8,405 34.5%
Milton 8,345 7.7%
Newmarket 8,045 9.7%
Aurora 6,835 12.5%
Pickering 5,940 6.5%
Ajax 5,390 4.5%
Whitchurch-Stoufville 5,325 11.7%
Bradford West Gwillimbury 5,305 15.2%
Halton Hills 5,215 8.7%
New Tecumseth 3,450 10.2%
Georgina 2,815 6.3%
East Gwillimbury 2,045 8.7%
Uxbridge 1,205 5.7%

The ridings (federal electoral districts) with the highest concentration of Italians (10 per cent of more of the population) in the GTA are as follows, as per 2016 Census data:

Riding Population Percent of
Vaughan—Woodbridge 55,960 53.5%
King—Vaughan 40,955 31.2%
Dufferin—Caledon 22,020 17.3%
Etobicoke Centre 17,545 15.1%
York Centre 13,880 13.4%
Humber River—Black Creek 13,800 12.81%
York South—Weston 14,710 12.78%
Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill 14,160 12.4%
Davenport 11,875 11.1%
Newmarket—Aurora 11,955 10.3%


Italian newspapers, television, and radio have existed throughout Toronto's history.[4]

Notable residents[edit]

The Italian Walk of Fame acknowledges ethnic Italians. It is located in Little Italy.

See also[edit]


  • Harney, Nicholas DeMaria. "Ethnicity, Social Organization, and Urban Space: A Comparison of Italians in Toronto and Montreal" (Chapter 6). In: Sloan, Joanne (editor). Urban Enigmas: Montreal, Toronto, and the Problem of Comparing Cities (Volume 2 of Culture of Cities). McGill-Queen's Press (MQUP), January 1, 2007. ISBN 0773577076, 9780773577077. Start p. 178.
  • Stanger-Ross, Jordan. Staying Italian: Urban Change and Ethnic Life in Postwar Toronto and Philadelphia (Historical Studies of Urban America). University of Chicago Press, January 15, 2010. ISBN 0226770761, 9780226770765.
  • Zucchi, John E. Italians in Toronto: Development of a National Identity, 1875-1935 (Volume 3 of McGill-Queen's studies in ethnic history, ISSN 0846-8869). McGill-Queen's Press, 1990. ISBN 0773507825, 9780773507821.


  1. ^ a b "Census Divisions". Statistics Canada.
  2. ^ "Immigration and Ethnocultural Diversity Highlight Tables".
  3. ^ a b c d Zucchi, p. 36.
  4. ^ a b Stanger-Ross, p. 30.
  5. ^ Perin, Roberto (York University). "Staying Italian: Urban Change and Ethnic Life in Post-war Toronto and Philadelphia." Urban History, 12/2010, Volume 37, Issue 3. Cited: p. 493. "[...]whereas in Toronto, Little Italy became a jumping-off point: houses were later purchased in the northwestern part of the city and beyond, notably in the famous or infamous ‘ethnoburb’ of Vaughan."
  6. ^ "Census subdivisions with 5,000-plus population". Statistics Canada.
  7. ^ Thurmond, Alexandra (May 2015). "Sound Scout: Alessia Cara is the 18-year-old Singer-Songwriter We Cant Get Enough Of". Teen Vogue. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  8. ^ Nostro, Lauren (2015-07-10). "Alessia Cara Interview". Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  9. ^ "Cera proud to be Brampton's most-famous resident". Toronto Star. 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2017-08-04.

Further reading[edit]