Since the 1960's the Earlscourt neighbourhood has been recognized as the business and cultural centre of Toronto's Italian community. However in recent years the ethnic mix in this neighbourhood has begun to change as Canadians of West Indian, Portuguese, Greek, Latin American, and East Indian descent have begun moving into the area. Earlscourt is also being rediscovered by Anglo-Canadians from other parts of Toronto.
The Earlscourt neighbourhood was settled in 1906 by labourers from the British Isles. In addition to their work at the local factories, Earlscourt families would toil day and night building meagre tar and paper shacks, as temporary homes until enough money was saved to build a proper brick house. The spiritual leader of the Earlscourt community during these difficult times was the Reverend Peter Bryce. Each night, Bryce would trek
through Earlscourt's muddy streets, aided only by a lantern and a pair of high boots. His visits were said to have offered hope and inspiration to many families.
The quality of life in Earlscourt began to improve once it was annexed by the City of Toronto, in 1910.
Earlscourt's solid brick homes were built mostly between 1910 and 1950. There is a good mix of detached and semi-detached houses, as well as bungalows.
Most of the houses contain a ïCantina', which is the Italian equivalent of a cold cellar. You will be hard pressed to find a backyard with a lawn, instead these areas are reserved for fruit and vegetable gardens.
The Corso Italia Shopping district along St. Clair Avenue West, has a lively Italian atmosphere that emanates from its open air cafes and bistros. Corso Italia has been dubbed ïHollywood North' because of the many major motion pictures that have been filmed on location here.
Earlscourt Park, located along St. Clair Avenue West, is one of Toronto's busiest parks. This thirty-six acre park includes four tennis courts, soccer fields, a baseball diamond and an outdoor ice rink. The Joseph J. Piccininni Community Centre is located right next to Earlscourt Park. This modern facility boasts an indoor soccer field and probably the only in-
door ñbocceî courts in Canada. It also has a twenty-five metre swimming pool, a gymnasium, and a seniors lounge.
The Dufferin/St. Clair Library, or ñBibliotecaî, contains the largest collection of Italian books in the city's public library system. The St. Clair-Silverthorn Library reflects the area's diverse population by offering books in many languages, including Italian, Greek, and Punjabi.
The St. Clair West streetcar takes passengers through a scenic route to the St. Clair station on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line. At the south end of Earlscourt there is a limited bus service on Davenport Road.
Motorists are within fifteen minutes of downtown Toronto and are approximately ten minutes from the Allen Expressway which provides commuters with access to Toronto's major highways.