As the premier organization that helps the culture of the Italian-Canadian community in this city, Oshawa Italian Recreation Club is responsible for giving life to the Italian heritage in different ways. Part of this initiative is establishing a page dedicated to Italian history and culture.
This page was created in cooperation with the Italian Cultural Centre of Durham to help educate the Oshawa citizens about the heritage of the Italian-Canadian community. We hope that you gain a new perspective on the lives of the Oshawa Italian Recreation Club members through this article and be more aware of the diversity of their culture.
You might be wondering why so many of your neighbours are of Italian descent. Different Italian families live in your neighbourhood and some you have probably grown up with. That is why our organization was established so that immigrant families will have a community where they can freely express their culture.
During the early 1900s when fascism was reigning in Italy, thousands of Italian families emigrated from their motherland because of fear and poverty. The harsh conditions that they experience in their own country forced them to look elsewhere for shelter.
Some of these families found their way to the Americas where they mostly settled in the United States and Canada. Between 1900 and 1913, families from Southern Italy settled in different cities in Canada because they had to flee from the economic depression of their region. This continued up to the 50s and 60s wherein at least 20 to 30 thousand individuals came to this country.
Because of the continuous rise of the Italian population in the city of Oshawa, our organization was born. At first, it became a haven for the Italians to celebrate their lives while trying to find their footing in their new home until it flourished to the Oshawa Italian Recreation Club that it is today.
Arts and Architecture of old Italy
The country of Italy is known for its love for the arts. Different kinds of artworks throughout the centuries can be seen everywhere, from the beautiful paintings in known churches to the different architectural styles seen in the country.
Italy is home to several famous architectural marvels of the world which includes the following:
- Leaning Tower of Pisa
- The Colosseum
- Duomo of Milan
- Mole Antonelliana in Turin
- Florence Cathedral
- Sistine Chapel
- The Temple of Hera Lacinia
- Milan Cathedral
- Monreale Cathedral
Most of the architectural marvels and famous paintings that can be seen in Italy are commissions made by the Catholic Church during the Byzantine Empire and the Reinassance.
Italy was the centre of artistic development during the Reinassance period. Many of the famous artists from the renaissance are of Italian origin such as:
- Raffaello Sanzio – He was born in Urbino to a famous painter, Giovanni Santi. His father taught him as a kid to become a painter and exposed him to the world of art. He is well known for his portrait paintings, especially the ones that feature Mary as Madonna. Pope Julius II commissioned him to decorate the papal rooms in the Vatican where he painted his famous work, The School of Athens.
- Leonardo da Vinci – The renaissance man himself, Leonardo probably is one of the most influential artists of his time. Unlike his fellow artists, he was born as a peasant in Florence and had to survive life through painting. He is also well-known for his inventions and unorthodox sketches that are way beyond his time. His most famous works include Mona Lisa and The Last Supper that is copied countless times throughout the centuries.
- Michelangelo – A well-known artist of the Renaissance period, he created masterpieces on church walls that are still appreciated until today. Michelangelo worked alongside the Catholic Church in creating the best works of his career which includes his work on the Sistine Chapel’s altar and ceiling. His works were influential to many Baroque artists that came after him.
- Sandro Botticelli – He is one of the early renaissance masters of his generation. Known for his altarpieces and life-sized canvas paintings, his subjects commonly depict mythological figures and scenes. His best and most popular works are The Birth of Venus and Primavera which is housed in the Uffizi Gallery of Florence.
- Tiziano Vecellio – Also known as Titian, he is considered as the greatest Venetian artist of the 16th century. During his teenage years, he trained under prominent artists of his hometown such as Giorgione and Giovanni Bellini wherein he learned how to paint portraits, landscapes and religious themes. He was often commissioned by royal families all over Europe and painted portraits of prominent Catholic figures.
- Jacopo Comin – Most of his contemporaries called him Tintoretto because his father was a tintore, an Italian dyer. His works were influenced by the artistry and use of the colour of Titian and the energetic vigour of Michelangelo’s paintings. Most of his paintings are characterised by art historians for their inventiveness, and dramatic use of light and movements. Because of this, he earned another nickname which was Il Furioso.
- Masaccio – One of the young influential painters of his time, he left an incredible mark even though he lived until the age of 26. His works depict lifelike figures and movements that are scientifically accurate in terms of perspective. Art historians considered him as the first great painter of the Italian Renaissance because of his vast influence on the modern era of painting. As a young painter, he was influenced by the famous sculptors and architects such as Donatello and Brunelleschi.
- Domenico Ghirlandaio – His contribution to the Renaissance movement came from his large and influential workshop in Florence. His workshop became an apprentice hub for budding artists of his time like Michelangelo. Most of Domenico’s work depicted the contemporary Florentine society, its citizens and religious leaders.
- Andrea del Verrocchio – Just like Domenico Ghirlandaio, his works were influential to artists of the Italian Renaissance. He was not only a painter but also a successful sculptor for powerful figures such as the Medici family.
- Giovanni Bellini – A revolutionary painter that changed the art scene of the Venetian region, he was born into a family of influential artists, among them are Jacopo and Gentile Bellini. He was known for using slow-drying oil paints that enabled him to create rich hues and detail-oriented shading in his works.
Family Values and Catholicism among Italian Families
One of the defining characteristics of Italians is their strong regard for the family as a social structure. This is mostly influenced by their religious upbringing in Catholicism and its traditions. Most families that belong to the Oshawa Italian Recreation Club are practising Catholics and celebrate at least one religious festival a month.
The calendar that the members follow in the organization has at least one patron saint associated with each day of the year. Some of the members are also named after a particular saint especially when they are born on the same day as their patron saint.
Italian-Canadian families belonging to the Oshawa Italian community follow hierarchical relationships that are taught by the Catholic Church. They especially have large families where even their relatives are in the same community. Our organization is proud to say that family values play a big role in our community and the members do everything in their power to preserve this culture.
Italian Cuisine and its influence on the world
Known for its wide variety of dishes that originated in different regions of its country, Italian Cuisine changed the world for the better. This cuisine dominates the kitchens of famous restaurants all over the world not only for its delicious flavour but also because it is treated as an art form.
Each of the twenty Italian regions has its distinctive flavours that characterize the culture and history of its people. Every family in the Oshawa Italian Recreation Club have their own specialized meal they bring in gatherings and sometimes it becomes a friendly internal competition among the members. The Italian-Canadian community is proud of their heritage and it is seen in each dish that they prepare.
Food is an important part of the Italian culture and in extension, the identity of each Italian-Canadian family of the organization. It also played a critical role in the history of Italy as a country and the citizens that were affected by the Italian diaspora. We can thank the families that brought Italian food to their new home countries for being introduced to the variety of dishes of this cuisine.
Contact Oshawa Italian Recreation Club today!
To know more about the Italian-Canadian heritage, please contact us through our landline phones. Please understand that we can only accommodate your inquiry during business hours. Our telephones are manned by community member volunteers so please be patient if we cannot answer the calls immediately.
Below are the hotlines you can contact:
- Telephone: (905) 725-8053
- Fax: (905) 725-9856
Visit Oshawa Italian Recreation Club’s main office at 245 Simcoe Street South, Oshawa, ON L1H 4H3.