by ANGELO FILOSO
In 1851 there were only eleven families in Ottawa whose mother tongue was Italian. These families lived in lower town around Sussex Drive and Murray Street. In 1908 some of these families moved to the Preston Street area and began to construct St. Anthony’s Church, which was completed in 1913.
The Italians moved from the Preston Street area and rebuilt their community around the Fisher Heights, Carleton Heights and Kaladar areas after the expropriation of their properties in the Rochester/ Gladstone areas during the late 1950’s to make room for Commerce High School and the Rochester housing projects.
In 1991 the core of the Ottawa residents of Italian heritage lived around the Villa Marconi Campus in the Baseline/ Merivale, Rideau River and Viewmount sector.
It is believed that politics of power influenced the decision to expropriate in the fifties the Gladstone/ Preston street areas. A future article on the memoirs of the former mayor Charlotte Whitton will discuss this aspect of the history of Ottawa Italian- Canadians in greater detail.