Bookmark and Share

Sempre Avanti
Canada 150


      Ordinary Lives exhibit to tour across Canada

      Jan. 11, 2013

      The organizers behind the Italian Canadians as Enemy Aliens: Memories of World War II project at the Columbus Centre in Toronto are set to bring their exhibit to a Canadian city near you.

      The project acknowledges and commemorates the experience of Italian Canadians during World War II. On June 10, 1940, Canada declared war on Italy and declared Italians and Italian-Canadians living in Canada as “enemy aliens.” Under the War Measures Act, over 600 Italians and Italian-Canadians from across Canada were interned in internments camps. Some remained there for years, without ever being charged with a crime or brought to trial. Many more Italian Canadians were required to report to authorities on a regular basis.

      The Columbus Center’s project originally included a permanent exhibit at the center, an accompanying website, and a book publication. After receiving additional funding from the Canadian government, the organizers created a smaller travelling version of the exhibit, titled Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times: Italian Canadian Experiences During WWII, that could be packed up and transported to another venue.

      After opening Ordinary Lives in Toronto in December – a trial run, if you will – the exhibit is packed up and heading out for on a three-year tour across Canada.

      “Based on the success of our permanent exhibit, and the national scope of the tour, the travelling exhibit will be a way to reach as many communities as possible,” explains Lucy Di Pietro, Project Director for Italian Canadians as Enemy Aliens.

      Its first stop is the soon-to-be-inaugurated Italian Canadian Historical Center at Villa Marconi in Ottawa. The exhibit will remain in Ottawa until March.

      After that it will head out to the Niagara Falls History Museum in April, and then to the Casa D’Italia in Montreal in September. In 2014, the exhibit will be shown at Discovery North Bay in North Bay, Ontario, at the Anderson Farm Museum in Lively, Ontario, and finally at Windsor’s Community Museum. In 2015 the exhibit will head out to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, the Guelph Civic Museum, the Timmins Museum and the Caboto Centre in Winnipeg. The final stop is scheduled for early 2016 at the Trail Public Library in Trail, British Columba.

      “We invested a lot of time and effort to make sure that the tour is truly a national tour. We also wanted to make sure that the exhibit visited places that were directly affected by the internment, cities like Montreal and Windsor,” explains Di Pietro.

      “The scope of the audience needs to go beyond the Italian community. We also want the general public to learn about the internment. Some venues will fit that objective perfectly,” she continues.

      In the meantime, those interested in learning more about the internment of Italian Canadians can peruse the project’s website at

      Comments are closed.