The Early Italian Community in Ottawa and Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Painting by Ruth McMillan in 1976
Shows the Head of the Rideau Canal Locks in Ottawa, Canada in 1893

 September 23, 2014: Added newspaper article to Antonio BARBARO, WW2 hero. See Barbaro in table below.

Map Source: "Italians in Toronto" by John Zucchi, page 12, McGill-Queen's Studies in Ethnic History, ISBN 0-7735-0653-5, 1988 This is an excellent book which details the Italian Diaspora as it occurs in Toronto and has relevance for Italian settlement in the Ottawa area. Map of Italy
Arch on Preston Street, Ottawa, Canada, announcing the entrance to Little Italy, Little Italy in Ottawa, Canada Arch on Preston Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Preston Street - Little Italy
An Italian portrait painter worked in Bytown / Ottawa in 1850. He was possibly commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church and would appear to be the first Italian to come to Ottawa. Here is a death record for Signor G. Fassio, Portrait Painter, in 1850. Bytown, January 2, 1851 Burial of Signor (Gerome) Fassio, portrait painter and native of Rome, Italy, who died the day before yesterday, aged about 60 yrs. (actually born in Rome in 1789) Witnesses: Dr. Lacroix & Philibert Bastien Source: DROUIN Records for Notre Dame Cathedral, Sussex Drive, Ottawa. (

Painting by Signor G. Fassio of Amélia Berthelet, c. 1835 Source: National Gallery of Canada, Fassio Collection Painting of Amelia Berthelet by Signor G. Fassio, c. 1835

March 1, 2019: (post retirement)
Text Source: Ottawa Old and New, by Lucien Brault, page 211. First Italian Church in Ottawa, Canada (on Murray Street)
March 25, 2011:
St. Anthony`s Church Booth and Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa, Canada Built in 1913, as the National Italian Church St. Anthony`s Church, Booth and Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa, Canada
May 7, 2004: The following heads of households appear in the 1881 Census for the City of Ottawa. They were all born in Italy. BAIGI, Frances born 1844 M Italian Bir: Ital Cen: Ont Carlet Ottawa BEZANO, Alfred born 1836 M Italian Bir: Ital Cen: Ont Carlet Ottawa COURSOLLE, Jacob born 1840 M Italian Bir: Ital Cen: Ont Carlet Ottawa GRECAU, Raphael born 1850 M Italian Bir: Ital Cen: Ont Carlet Ottawa (Greco) LAUREN, Joseph born 1854 M Italian Bir: Ital Cen: Ont Carlet Ottawa LA MOTHE, Hemo G. born 1851 M French Bir: Ital Cen: Ont Carlet Ottawa (Lamothe) MUSCARDINO, Stephano born 1854 M Italian Bir: Ital Cen: Ont Carlet Ottawa VARALO, Johnny born 1839 M Italian Bir: Ital Cen: Ont Carlet Ottawa (Mr. Varalo's occupation is given as Musician). The above folks were early arrivals from Italy. A large influx came to this region during the decade prior to World War I. An excellent book which documents Italian migration to Canada is On The Move by Bruno Ramirez, ISBN 0-7710-7283-X Italian labourers in the nineteenth century worked seasonally in France, Switzerland and Austria. By the 1880's, transatlantic steamer fares were cheaper than train fares to France and wages were higher in America. It became worthwhile financially for single Italian men to work in Canada for part of the year (sojourners) and return to Italy during the winter. Soon, family migration was increasingly important. In 1913, Ottawa's Italian community, which numbered about 150 families in the Rochester, Booth and Preston Street area, built St. Anthony's Church. It was a National Church for Italian Catholics. In 1936 it became a territorial church and was opened to all ethnic groups (including many Irish parishioners). However, it has remained the center of the Italian community in Ottawa. ... Al

February 4, 2005: Nick D'Angelo is researching his Liberatore, Disipio, D'Angelo and Perseo ancestors from Pretoro, Chieti, Italy
February 8, 2005: Hi Al, You can add a link to the Ottawa Italian Canadian newspaper, Il Postino, with a link from Ottawa Italians on your site. Thanks Angelo Filoso Executive Editor Il Postino
March 26, 2011: Here is a list of approximately 40 Italian-speaking families who arrived early in the Ottawa area: Source: Drouin Records at for St. Anthony's Church
Early Italian families in the Ottawa / Gatineau areas

BARBARO Antonio BARBARO was WW2 Hero Read Ottawa Citizen article by Kelly Egan
BOVA from Sicily in 1884 Obituary of Frank BOVA, 1943
COSTATINI see e-mail below dated March 23, 2015
GUZZO from San Giovanni, Italy in 1896 Obituary of Frank Guzzo Source: Ottawa Citizen, Sept. 3, 1952
PRESTA, Carmino from Sicily later spelling PRESS or PREST
SABETTI see e-mail below, dated March 23, 2015
In 1986, a petition was forwarded to Ottawa City Council to rename Preston Street. Source: Ottawa Citizen Digital Archives, February 11, 1986 article by Tony Lofaro Proposed Name Change for Preston Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Source: Ottawa Citizen Digital Archives, September 23, 1957 Canadian Citizenship for eleven Italians in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in 1957

March 27, 2011:
Source for the following: Planted by Flowing Water, page 117 St. Anthony's Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada St. Anthony's Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

August 29,2011:
1982 World Cup Soccer Celebration on Preston Street. Keyword: Silvano Musca Source: Ottawa Citizen, July 12, 1982 Italy wins World Cup Soccer Game in 1982

Here is a very good source for information regarding the Italian Community in Ottawa during the Postwar Period (after WWII): Talarico, Kathleen, Standing Shoulder to Shoulder: The Experiences of Southern Italians who Immigrated to Ottawa in the Postwar Period, (M.A. Essay at Carleton University, 2008, Carleton Library Call Number M.A. 2008 T35) November 12, 2012: and another one: Such Hardworking People: Italian Immigrants in Postwar Toronto, by Iacovetta, Franca, (McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal, 1992) HIST 3507
July 23, 2013: Read a paper regarding A Working Class Ottawa, Canada Neighbourhood, 1880-1950, Italian and Irish Catholic Immigrants. (Early Italian immigration to the By Ward area followed by the creation of "Little Italy" around Preston Street.)
December 20, 2013: Last month we attended a lecture by Mr. Salvatore Pantalone at the Historical Society of Ottawa. Mr. Pantalone has contributed a book to the Bytown Pamphlet Series, Number 89. The book is called Growing Up in La Colonia. It describes the history of the Little Italy neighbourhood in Ottawa. It is available from the Historical Society of Ottawa. ... Al
March 23, 2015: Good evening Al, just looking at your site again and letting you know that I am in the course of researching and editing a book dealing with the first 100 years of St. Anthony’s Church. Many of the early family profiles , with pictures, as long as they were parishioners , will be in the book. I would appreciate if you could add my family heritage to the list of early families. My grandfather Giuseppe Costantini, born 1893-1951 arrived here in 1914 and was married in the Church on March 17, 1917. My grandmother’s (Teresina Sabetti) family, The Sabetti’s, not to be confused with the Sabettas, was here that early as well. Their name should be among those on the list. My grandfather Costantini was one of the most influential men in the Italian community and within the hierarchy of St. Anthony’s, Church-President, Sons of Italy (numerous times), President, St. Vincent de Paul Society) etc. He also was one of the 5 men interned on June 10, 1940 in Petawawa, being picked up as an enemy alien, later being released in February, 1941. In 1934, He took out the charter for the Preston Hotel, now the Prescott Hotel, with Antonio Disipio as his partner. When he was interned in 1940, he could hold no livelihood and gave up his claim, temporarily, to his lawyer John Ebbs, Senior. Upon release, this so called gentlemen’s agreement was anything but , thus he lost control of the hotel and never challenged it, never to make waves because of his recent internment (story common to those that were interned). Anyways , would appreciate the listing and if you would love to hear anything else for your sites, let me know. I have read the stories of all of my Irish ancestors in the Low area (Gatineau Valley) -The McCaffreys, O”Rourkes etc. I find it very interesting, but why would I not? Studied and have my degree in history from Carleton and retired two years ago, after 35 year career in the Library of Parliament. Looking forward to hearing from you, ... Trina Costantini-Powell _________________________________ Good morning, Trina: Thanks for your interesting e-mail and good luck with your book about St. Anthony's Church. I'd like to get a copy of it when it is finished. (the book is now out! see posting below dated June 8, 2015) Is it OK with you if I add your e-mail to our web page Other researchers may be able to contribute information for you. It would be nice to see some old family pictures, etc. I was baptized at St. Anthony's and made my First Communion there. We attended St. Anthony's from the late 1940's until about 1960. My mother was Irish (a Burns) and I remember a family friend was a Father Thomas O'Rourke. He was the priest at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church for a while. I believe that the Burns and the O'Rourkes had been neighbours beginning in the 1840's on the Manotick Station Road when John O'Rourke married Mary Burns. Both the Burns and O'Rourke families had been Rideau Canal workers in the 1830 time period. Their farms were adjacent and I believe that some of the O'Rourkes later moved to the Gatineau. I believe that they came from County Galway in Ireland. And about ten years ago, my first cousin, Jeff Burns married an Italian lady named Rosa. Best meal I ever had. Small world! Unfortunate about the internment; at least times have changed for the better. Thanks again for this. ... Al
June 9, 2015:
A Journey of Faith A History of Saint Anthony of Padua Church 1913 - 2013
Il libro della storia e dei ricordi preziosi della Chiesa di Sant'Antonio da Padova, intitolato A Journey of Faith, verrà presentato alla comunità di Ottawa il weekend della Festa di Sant'Antonio. A Journey of Faith è un lascito - una testimonianza viva - per le generazioni future degli Italocanadesi di Ottawa. Le sue pagine rendono conto della forza spirituale di una gente costretta a lasciare la propria amata terra d'Italia, e che ha lottato coraggiosamente per creare una nuova vita per se stessa e per la propria famiglia, portando con sé pochissime cose materiali ma una ricchezza di valori, tradizioni e cultura che mantenne e serbò nel cuore in quella nuova terra che imparò ad amare, il Canada. Una volta qui, incondizionatamente sostenuta con compassione e comprensione dal clero dell'Ordine dei Servi di Maria, costruì una nuova Chiesa e fondò una nuova comunità. Questo libro, per commemorare i cento anni di storia della Chiesa di Sant'Antonio da Padova, è il risultato di innumerevoli ore di lavoro di un determinato gruppo di individui e del contributo inestimabile di una quantità di suoi parrocchiani. Ciò che si chiese alla comunità era semplice: frugate a fondo nelle vostre cantine, soffitte e cassetti, e portateci il tesoro di fotografie e di cose da ricordare che troverete. La risposta dei nostri parrocchiani è stata al di là di ogni aspettativa. Siamo estremamente grati alla nostra comunità per aver liberamente condiviso i propri ricordi e per la sua enorme generosità, poiché ci ha ceduto i suoi preziosissimi documenti e fotografie per assicurarne la conservazione nelle pagine di questo libro. Si dice che i ricordi non sono giorni, mesi o anni: sono attimi. L'attimo catturato in una foto non è qualcosa di insignificante; esso può raccontare una storia piena di significato. E così questo volume è un giardino di ricordi raccolti dai parrocchiani; un libro che racconta la storia della nostra amata Chiesa di Sant'Antonio. Padre Felix Loganathan, la Comunità Servi di Maria, ed il Comitato del Libro del Centenario hanno il piacere di invitari alla presentazione ufficiale del libro A Journey of Faith A History of Saint Anthony of Padua Church 1913 - 2013 sabato 13 giugno, 2015 durante la messa delle 17:00 Chiesa Sant'Antonio da Padova 427 Booth Street, Ottawa R.S.V.P. Carla Minoli Lappa & Trina Costantini Powell A Journey of Faith A History of Saint Anthony of Padua Church 1913 - 2013 The centennial book, A Journey of Faith, will be presented to the community, and friends of the parish, during the St Anthony's Feast Day week-end, as we pay tribute to our Patron Saint. A Journey of Faith is a legacy - a living testimony - for future generations of Italian Canadians in Ottawa. Its pages relate the spiritual strength of a people who were forced to leave their beloved homeland of Italy, and who valiantly strove to create a better life for themselves and their families, bringing with them very few earthly possessions but a wealth of values, traditions and culture, which they upheld and cherished in this new land they came to love, Canada. Once here, unconditionally supported with compassion and understanding by the clergy of the Servite Order, they founded a new church and a new community. This book, to commemorate the one-hundred year history of St Anthony of Padua Church, is the result of countless hours of work by a determined group of individuals and the invaluable contribution of scores of its parishioners. The request to the community was simple: dig deep in your basements, attics and drawers, and bring us the treasure trove of photographs and memorabilia that you find. The response of our parishioners was overwhelming. We are most grateful to our community for freely sharing their mementos and memories, and for their overwhelming generosity, as they assigned their most precious documents and photographs to us to ensure their preservation within the covers of this publication. It is said that memories are not days, months or years: they are moments. A moment captured in a photo is not something insignificant; it can tell a meaningful story. And so this volume is a garden of memories harvested by the parishioners that tells the story of our beloved St Anthony's Church. Father Felix Loganathan, the Servite Community and the Centennial Book Committee are pleased to invite you to the official presentation of the book
A Journey of Faith A History of Saint Anthony of Padua Church 1913 - 2013
Saturday June 13, 2015 During the 5:00 p.m. Mass at St Anthony of Padua Church 427 Booth Street, Ottawa R.S.V.P. Carla Minoli Lappa & Trina Costantini Powell
New February 28, 2020: Here is a painting by Lawren Harris of the Group of Seven painters. The picture, from 1922, shows an Italian grocery store in "the Ward" in Toronto. Little Italy in Ottawa was similar to the Ward in Toronto.
Italian Grocery Store in the Ward in 1922, by Lawren Harris

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