Italian Montréal: a new exhibition at Pointe-à-Callière

April 29, 2021

Pointe-à-Callière recently opened its new exhibition, Italian Montréal, to the public. The exhibit allows visitors to explore the vast legacy of Italo-Montrealers and examine the rich influence of the Italian community in the city.

Thanks to the collaboration of many associations and members of the Italo-Montrealer community, Pointe-à-Callière has been able to personify the history behind one of the oldest and most influential immigrant communities of this Quebecois city.

Several members of the community have lent the museum numerous family heirlooms, with different backstories, entrusting Pointe-à-Callière to portray how life was lived elsewhere.

As of today, around 250,000 Montrealers identify themselves as individuals with Italian descent. With the intention of acknowledging the remarkable contribution to the cultural, social and economic life of their city, Pointe-à-Callière presents a unique exhibition showcasing this distinguished community in all aspects of society.

Between the late 19th century and the World War I, Italy witnessed an economical and political distress, forcing over 14 million Italians to flee the country. A notable part of those immigrants settled in Montréal, drawn by the development of Canada’s economic capital at the time.

This exhibition is divided into 5 sections:

  • The train station and the commercial street: an arrival point for many Italians, this station examines the arrival of the community in Montréal, as well as their introduction to society.
  • The café: a symbol for socializing, the cafe depicts the influence of Italo-Montrealers in the city as well as their involvement in social movements, such as trade unions and women’s rights.
  • The home: a key stage for an individual in the Italian community. The home depicts the success and the independence of oneself. It depicts a turning point for an Italo-Montrealer because it also showcases the departure from their motherland into a new and unknown land. This station also examines the Italian influence on housing, cuisine and colloquial language. The latter is due to the fact that the Italian language is preserved and maintained at home, forming a unique Italo-Montrealer slang in the city, formed by the mixture of English, French and Italian.
  • The church: this is portrayed as a meeting place for major events. It contributed to the creation of Italian associations and certain neighbourhoods in the city.
  • The public sphere: this exhibition ends in the public sphere, illustrating certain accomplishments made by Italo-Montrealer notable people who have been able to put both the city and the province on the map.

In terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibition has been laid out to comply with regulations, such as social distancing measures, to ensure a safe environment to view the exhibition. The showcase will run until Jan.9, 2022.

Photography by Myriam Ménard / Pointe-à-Callière, courtesy of the exhibition.


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