Nanaimo's Italian community
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Audio recording of Lynne Bowen's September 14, 2006 presentation to the Nanaimo Historical Society about Italian immigration to Nanaimo and other parts of British Columbia. Bowen, an author and historian, outlines how after Italy's unification in the 1870s, widespread unemployment and poverty led many Italian men of the peasant class to leave home to seek employment. Many found themselves working in the isolated, one industry towns of British Columbia, including Nanaimo. Bowen outlines how the initial Italians who came to Canada were sojourners, who left Italy to find work, but planned to eventually return once they saved enough money to buy land back home. By the start of the 20th century, Italian immigrants were no longer sojourners, but used chain migration to bring families and connections to Canada. This resulted in strong ties between some B.C. towns with individual communities in Italy. As an example of this, Bowen details how Nanaimo had a connection with two Italian villages: Platischis and Tarcetta, which are both in the eastern Italian region of Fruili. Bowen then goes on to summarize the pattern of families' experiences with emigrating from different regions of Italy including those from: Liguria, Piemonte, Lombardia, Calabria, Veneto, and Friuli.