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Italian Culture

Who they are

  • Italians (Italian: italiani) are an ethnic group native to Southern Europe that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue.
  • Italians are warm, welcoming people who enjoy sharing the pleasures of life with others: a comforting meal, an inspiring sunset, for example.
  • Italian culture has a rich history that includes art, classic architecture, popular traditions, and customs. This history includes links to trends in Italy today as well as resources on folklore, history, and artistic traditions.
  • Italians have greatly influenced and contributed to science, the arts, technology, culture, cuisine, sport and banking worldwide. Italian people are generally known for their localism, both regionalist that municipalist, attention to clothing, family values and devoutness to the Christian faith and association with the Catholic Church.

Language : Italian

  • Historically Latin, nowadays Italian and other languages (Sicilian · Neapolitan · Corsican · Sardinian · Piedmontese · Ligurian · Lombard · Venetian · Friulan)
  • Italian ( italiano or lingua italiana) is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia.
  • Italian remained as Canada’s fourth most common mother tongue group, behind English, French and Chinese, although its numbers declined.  Source: http://www.statcan.gc.
  • Many first-generation immigrants continue to speak to the language or dialect of their region of origin in Italy.


  • By1881 there were only 2,000 Italians reported to be living in Canada. The first massive wave of Italian emigration occurred between 1900 and 1913, when over 60,000 Italians came to Canada.
  • The Italian ethnic origin population in Sault Ste. Marie is 17,720 people. Source: Statistics Canada (2006).
  • In the early 1920’s, the Southern Italians arrived in Sault Ste. Marie and Canada by the thousands, using an elaborate network of families and friends who helped sponsor them. The majority of these immigrants were young, Italian males coming from the United States.
  • Many labourers eventually decided to settle permanently in Canada, and by WWI Italians were to be found  in Sydney, NS, Welland, ON, Sault Ste. Marie, ON ,Copper Cliff, ON,  and Trail, BC.
  • Between 1946 and 1983, 507,057 Italians came to Canada. Of this, 70% came from the South, 12% from the Central region and 18% came from Northern Italy.
  • According to the 2006 Canadian census, 1,445,335 Canadians (4.6% of total population) consider themselves to be of Italian origin.

Religion, Values and Traditions

  • Italian ethnicity in Canada is closely connected to Roman Catholicism, the faith of 95% of Italian Canadians.
  • In Sault Ste Marie, the Italians began to build churches in 1910.  Initially they constructed the Church of Our Lady which was subsequently renamed Our Lady of Mount Carmel where they would pray to God.
  • Out of the 1.3 million Italians in Canada, 1,015,725 or 79.9% are Roman Catholic 113,455 or 8.9% Protestant, 23,805 or 1.8% other Christian. Those who do not profess a faith constitute 109,515 or 8.2%. The largest non-Christian faith that some Italians follow is Judaism.

How did they contribute to life in Sault Ste. Marie

  • Since the 1880s, the Italian Canadian community has made and continues to make significant contributions to the growth and prosperity of the Province of Ontario.
  • Peasants and artisans, for the most part, brought with them a wide variety of trades and expertise:agricultural knowledge; expertise in working with metals, wood, stone or textiles; and experience in industrial work acquired through emigration elsewhere.
  • Today, Italian Canadians are at or above the national average for university education. Greater numbers than the national average have entered the field of medicine, dentistry, and law. Italian Canadians have also been elected to all levels of government.
  • Italian Canadians have influenced society’s tastes in food, fashion, architecture and recreation, thus helping to bring a new cosmopolitanism style to life. They have also made important contributions to the arts.
  • Italians began to make a significant economic impact as a result of their integration in the community in post-World War II , particularly in the 1960s. They got into the workforce and were able to raise capital, get into development, real estate and industry.
  • Second generation Italian Canadians are at the national average for university attendance and entering professions and are above average for home ownership.
  • Italians have contributed memorably & significantly to our modern society through their inventions and discoveries in science, education, medicine, geography, art, literature, cinema, music, politics, sports, business and more. These inventions have improved industry, health, and everyday life such as: food (pasta, pizza, risotto, lasagne), Ice cream, Optical glasses, plastic surgery, thermometer & barometer, piano, violin, cello, opera,  radio, jacuzzi, the first dictionary, cologne, to name a few.
  • Italian fashion -Armani, Gucci, Prada, Versace,
  • Italian automobile companies: Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, Fiat/Abarth, Lancia, Pagani

Holidays and Celebrations

  • ITALIAN HERITAGE MONTHJune. On October 7, 2010, the Provincial Legislature passed Bill 103, officially declaring June, Italian Heritage Month. the Province of Ontario recognizes the important contributions immigrants have made in building Ontario’s communities and the economic, political, social and cultural achievements of Italian Canadians throughout the province. Italian Heritage Month is an opportunity to remember, celebrate and educate future generations about Ontario’s rich history.
  • FERRAGOSTO Next to Christmas, Easter, and New Years, Ferragosto is one of the most celebrated holidays in Italy. Celebrated on the fifteenth of August, it celebrates the rise of Mary up to heaven to join her son Jesus.
  • SAINT VALENTINE’S DAY Often simply Valentine’s Day. Ancient Roman tradition is observed on February 14each year. Today Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world, mostly in the West, although it remains a working day in all of them.
  • G. MARCONI SOCIETY  ITALIAN FESTIVAL IN SAULT STE. MARIE  Recognizing and celebrating the Italian heritage of Sault Ste. Marie

Notable Italians Descent in Sault Ste. Marie

  • Frank G. Pací- Canadian Writer. His first novel, The Italians (1978) became a Canadian bestseller. He has enriched the Canadian literature and testified to a previously unexpressed dimension of the culture of Sault Ste. Marie.
  • Alan Spadoni- Italian entrepreneur in Sault Ste. Marie- Spadoni’s Furniture. The Spadoni’s Furniture was open by Adolpho Spadoni (grandfather) in 1918 “James St. Furniture”.
  • Anthony James “Tony O” Esposito -Professional hockey player– goaltender.
  • Philip Anthony Esposito – NHL Hall of Famer & top goal scorer of the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Joe Fratesi — Former mayor of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
  • Carmen Provenzano (February 3, 1942 – July 27, 2005) Canadian politician. He represented Sault Ste. Marie electoral district in the Canadian House of Commons from 1997 to 2004. He was a member of the Liberal Party of Canada.
  • Angelo Bumbacco- “Mr. Hockey”.  NOHA junior League founder.
  • Rocky Dipietro- Former Canadian Football League receiver for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats
  • Geno Francolini- Chair of the Board of Governors of  the University of Western Ontario
  • Dr. Ron W. Ianni-(1935-1997)President of the University of Windsor.
  • Ben Pino Italian entrepreneur in Sault Ste. Marie- “ Pino’s Get Fresh Store”.
  • Tony Celli Marconi Club president

Video/interviews  gallery  click here Video 1 , Video 2,

Alan Spadoni
Anthony James Tony O'Esposito
Carmen Provenzano
Dr Ron Ianni
Frank Paci
Geno Francolini
Joe Fratesi
Mr Angelo Bumbacco
Philip Anthony Esposito
Rocky Di Pietro