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Italian Canadians as Enemy Aliens

Italian Canadians, now considered a successful and important part of Canada’s multicultural identity, were once considered enemies of the state. On June 10, 1940, Italy declared war on Great Britain and her allies; in reaction, the Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King declared as “enemy aliens” an estimated 31,000 Italian Canadians considered a threat to the safety of Canada.

These individuals were fingerprinted, photographed, and ordered to report monthly to the RCMP and local authorities. Those considered most dangerous, around 600, were sent to three internment camps in Alberta, Ontario, and New Brunswick for a period of up to five years. Though lives were disrupted and reputations damaged, not one internee would be of officially charged with a crime in a court of law.

Drawing from a series of oral histories collected between 2010 and 2012, “Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times: Italian Canadian Experiences During World War II” conveys the personal stories of a cross-section of Italian Canadians, including internees and their families, neighbours and fellow community members, and helps demonstrate the varied and far-reaching effects of that period of time.

To visit the official website and digital archive, see www.ItalianCanadianww2.ca

Permanent Exhibit

Location: Joseph D. Carrier Gallery, Upper Gallery/Alberto DiGiovanni Library (2nd Floor)
Gallery Hours: Monday to Friday, 10:00am – 5:00pm
Admission: Free to the public. Tours are also available.

For more information contact:
Daniela Agostino-Cugini
Phone: 416-789-7011 ext. 244
Email: dagostino@villacharities.com

For more info on the Italian Canadian Experiences During WWII project, go to italiancanadianww2.ca.

Travelling Exhibit

Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times: Italian Canadians Experiences during WWII travelling exhibit.
Opening at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia on November 23 to March 12, 2017.


Coverage of the travelling exhibit in Halifax’s Chronicle Herald

To book this travelling exhibit for your museum/organization, contact us!


Riflessi: Italian Canadian internment Memorial by Harley Valentine (located in the Villa Colombo gardens at Dufferin and Lawrence Ave. West)


Click to view or download our new Spring & Summer 2017 Program Guide



Beyond Barbed Wire: Essays on the interment of Italian Canadians. Pick up your free copy from the Cultural Arts department or download it from here.

Contact info:
416-789-7011 Ext. 244/248