Par le 26 September 2017
Not many will recall the fact that in the early 20th century, Montreal’s Italian community first chose to reside around the Mont-Carmel parish, on the corner of Amherst and René-Lévesque, which is now a section of the gay village. All that remains of that era is the famous restaurant Da Giovanni on Ste-Catherine St., and a few deep-rooted families, such as the Forcinos, in a neighbourhood formerly known as Faubourg Québec which saw the birth of the Village. As early as 1911, the community began migrating to the north, towards undeveloped land where the Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense catholic church was established. This part of town would become known as Montréal’s Petite Italie. The creation of the Marché du Nord in 1933 (now Marché Jean-Talon) a few steps away reinforced the European character of this neighbourhood in the heart on Montréal.
The community has changed quite a bit since the time when the parish commissioned Guido Nincheri to paint the now century-old church, representing Pope Pius XI and Mussolini on horseback in the apse to celebrate the Lateran Treaty, adopted in 1929 between the Holy See and the Italian government, which lead to the creation of the Vatican. The weight of the catholic religion and its active homophobia, presented in comedic form in the movie Mambo Italiano by Montréal filmmaker Steve Galuccio, has eased somewhat as Québec society evolved. Since the 1960s, Petite Italie is no longer the heart of the Italian community, which has slowly relocated to Saint-Léonard and the northeast end of the island. Still, the neighbourhood has remained the primary token of the community’s presence in the city.
The revitalization of the Marché Jean-Talon throughout the last twenty years, as well as those of Saint-Laurent Blvd. and Dante St., has created a highly epicurean atmosphere in this neighbourhood, renowned for its fine Italian restaurants, lively terraces and refined and specialized food shops. The Marché Jean-Talon, named in honour of New France’s first magistrate, is distinguished by the impressive amount of local growers of fruits and vegetables, and by the diversity of the many shops around the market. It is one of the largest markets in North America, whose effervescence is constant as it is now open all year round. It’s the darling outdoor market of Montrealers. It’s always a joy to go shopping for supplies and then relax in one the best restaurants in the neighbourhood, and revelling in the good life.