This project considers the place of food production and consumption in Italian-Canadian culture, examining cuisine as one of the defining traits of cultural identity for Italian immigrants that settled within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) over the past one hundred years. It begins with an overview of the history of Italian immigration to Toronto and key neighbourhoods built and transformed by this diaspora, including the establishment of landmark food businesses that persist to this day. Using a sociocultural, historical lens, the project further highlights the impact and contributions of the Italian community on Toronto’s food industry, tracing the growth and enduring legacies of restaurants in the face of cultural demographic shifts towards the turn of the century. This project further outlines the importance of recognizing and preserving the culinary traditions of diasporas, particularly in times of crises that impact local businesses and threaten to erase the cultural footprint of immigrant communities.
Throughout our research, we have been able to collect a variety of different images, advertisements, menus, and more from 1900 onwards. The exhibits, as can be found in the headers, highlight foundational businesses of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area that helped to create the Italian experience, life and culture in Canada, a country thousands of kilometres away from the source.