In 1985, the Little Italy BIA was founded in the heart of College Street by a dedicated group of commercial and industrial property owners and tenants empowered by the municipality of Toronto.
Over the years, this neighbourhood has developed, evolved, changed and matured. It had emerged as incredibly dynamic and distinctive area. It is renowned for its well known cafes, authentic restaurants, eclectic nightlife, European shops and distinctive services.
Today, it continues to thrive under the direction of an engaged and empowered Board of Directors. A board that is vested in the area and volunteers their time and energy to making Little Italy a better place. Acting as a unified voice that represents the members on critical issues that affect the neighbourhood, the board remains committed to creating safe and vibrant place, while promoting the unique businesses and rich culture it is so well known for.
BIA Boundaries: College Street from Bathurst Street to Shaw Street.
This vibrant neighbourhood, called little Italy – College street is the very first Little Italy in Toronto and an authentically unique neighbourhood that is incredibly rich in both character and culture.
It all started when Italians first arrived in Toronto in large numbers in the early 20th century, and settled in an area known as “The Ward” – centred on university avenue, and college street. In the 1920s, most Italians moved west of Bathurst, and the College-Clinton area emerged as the City’s major Little Italy.
The area experienced a significant influx in Italian settlement in the 1950s. Mostly working in construction or factory workers, some established small businesses along College – bakeries, fruit markets, meat markets, salons, tailor shops, barber shops. It wasn’t until they became more established that they started to venture into such businesses as cafes, restaurants, theatres and communications.
Little Italy – College Street continues to be recognized and honoured for its historical contributions to the Italian community and to city life in multicultural Toronto. A visit to Little Italy will prove to be a unique experience, one that you won’t soon forget.