Welcome to this digital archive that celebrates the history of various immigrant communities in the City of Brantford, Ontario, Canada. Did you know that Brantford used to be one of the most multicultural cities in Canada in the early 20th century? This public history project was created in 2019 to research, share, and celebrate Brantford's Immigrant history through exhibits, performances, tours, and other public events.
History of Maria's Pizza
Watch Rose and Angie Risi's interview to learn about the history of Brantford's famous Maria's Pizza!
A Podcast about the play: Italians Arrival
Join host, Christina Han as she walks us through the Memories of Brantford's Italian Community, including scenes from the original play by Brant Theatre Workshops, Visit here for The Italians Arrival.
Check Out Our Current Exhibit at Brant Museum & Archives
Education Brings Understanding
Articles and stories
History of Brantford's Italian Community
In 1903, the Italian population of Brantford consisted of approximately two families. The figure increase to approximately 6,000 people of Italian birth or descent by 1967. During the early 1900s, the Italian people's contributions to the Brantford community consisted largely of manpower toward construction, foundry work and the building of railroads. In 1906, the average salary was about 15 cents an hour.
Grazia Petitti's Journey to Brantford
November 04, 1963, I came to Canada from a small Italian town in southern Italy. I arrived in Halifax on November 04, 1963, on the Queen Federica. My sister wrote an application for me to come to Canada so I could have a better life. I left from Naples, Italy and for me, my trip was very dramatic. I left my hometown, Celle S. Vito, with mixed feelings because I was leaving my parents and all my friends and didn't know what I was going to find in Canada. I went to Naples the day before my departure.
Fascism and Internment
Prior to Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, Canadians viewed fascism favourably. The fascists in Italy were handling the Great Depression effectively and were preventing the Communists from taking power. The daughter of a Brantford Italian immigrant remembered how her mother said, “He (Mussolini) put jam on my bread.” Canada’s opinion of Italians changed drastically after Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia. Canadians thought that the Italian movement in Ethiopia threatened England’s interests in Egypt. When Italy declared war on the allies, this exacerbated Canada’s negative feelings towards Italy and caused them to respond to the situation with hatred and fear.