Little Italy is not an exclusively Italian neighbourhood, as its name might suggest. While there is still a strong Italian community in this neighbourhood, there is also a large Portuguese population centred around the First Portuguese Canadian Cultural Centre on College Street, and the Portugal Village shopping district on Dundas Street West.
History of Little Italy
It was during the 1920’s that College Street’s ‘Little Italy’, became recognized as the residential and commercial centre of Toronto’s Italian community.
However, by the 1960’s, many of Little Italy’s residents began to move north to the the Corso Italia district on St. Clair Avenue West.
The Italian families that moved out of Little Italy were replaced by Portuguese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish families. This mix of cultures gives Little Italy the international flavour that it enjoys today.
In 1985, the local business association on College Street officially adopted the Little Italy name in recognition of the role this neighbourhood has played as the starting point for Italians in Toronto.