Italian Women in Canada

Hardworking Women Indeed is a selection of approximately 100 hours of interviews and other materials collected in the 1970s and 1980s by the Multicultural History Society of Ontario with researchers, scholars and second-generation Italian Canadians. The materials document the experiences of Italian women who immigrated to Canada at different times throughout the first three quarters of the 20th century. They tell of the challenges, accomplishments and hopes of Italian women, and provide insight into women's employment and community activities, lifestyle and living conditions, marriage practices, and reasons for coming to Canada.  They also suggest the importance of family and community ties as social networks and support in the new country.  Also contained in this collection is a selection of archival images from the period. Approximately 60% of the collection is in English, 40% is in Italian.

Women in factory

The Italian-Canadian women showcased in this collection have an unimaginable resource of strength, and have as their primary goal the survival of their family.  With very few choices at their disposal, these women learned to survive, and did so with little regret and a great deal of sacrifice.  The interviews suggest that the family is the most important Italian institution. Next, is their relationship with religion and ultimately the church, where whenever possible, the women were actively involved.  Many of the women interviewed received a primary education at most. They worked inside the home caring for their children, husband, family members and boarders.  Some also held employment outside of the home in factories, cleaning, sewing, or in small businesses.  They were able to survive by their hard labour.  The Italian women's language, culture and oftentimes their sense of alienation bound them as a community