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Does Toronto's multiculturalism really contrast with the "melting pot" of American cities?

wild goose chase

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Having looked at several North American metros, here's a listing of immigrant populations (of at least 5000) where Toronto is in the top 3.
Neat stats! I think Toronto punches above its weight in immigrant diversity in part because Canada's largest city has a higher share and is a larger draw to immigrants proportionally than any one US city. Immigrants to the US are probably split among more cities than Canada, so we get a large concentration.

Since these stats are for immigrants (I'm assuming means foreign-born and naturalized), I think we have for many ethnic groups, proportionally a lot more born overseas and having living ties to the old country. For example, say, in the case of Italian- and Chinese-Canadians, Toronto has a lot of people actually born in Italy or China, while New York and San Francisco probably has a lot of people of these descents respectively, but those that are second, third or fourth generation etc.
 

wild goose chase

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As an immigrant from the UK in the mid-1970s, I've never really referred to myself as an Englishman. Since my youngest days I've considered myself just a Canadian. Of course my immigration story is vastly different than those from non-English speaking, non-white countries, but I sometimes wonder if we'd rather not recognize English immigrants at all.
Come to think of it, there seems to be an unspoken connotation or double standard people give to the label "immigrant" which seems based on how culturally distinct one is from the host country. Immigrant technically means anyone from any one country that moves to live in any other country. so even an American that naturalized as a Canadian last year would be an immigrant.

Yet, those from culturally and perhaps geographically distant places get the label. I feel like you rarely hear say, an American or British person moving to Canada called an immigrant (you might just say, "he was born in the UK", or "she's from the States" but not "immigrated from the States/the UK"), yet if it were someone from South Korea, or Poland or Tanzania, people would use the word. Also people sometimes even use the word immigrant in a term like "third generation immigrant", which makes little sense (if you've had citizenship in the host country all your life, you're not an immigrant) and in these cases, it's implied to be number of generations removed from a country perceived to be very different from here.
 
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King of Kensington

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Neat stats! I think Toronto punches above its weight in immigrant diversity in part because Canada's largest city has a higher share and is a larger draw to immigrants proportionally than any one US city. Immigrants to the US are probably split among more cities than Canada, so we get a large concentration.

Since these stats are for immigrants (I'm assuming means foreign-born and naturalized), I think we have for many ethnic groups, proportionally a lot more born overseas and having living ties to the old country. For example, say, in the case of Italian- and Chinese-Canadians, Toronto has a lot of people actually born in Italy or China, while New York and San Francisco probably has a lot of people of these descents respectively, but those that are second, third or fourth generation etc.
New York also has lots of Italian immigrants and speakers, more than we do, but yes New York's Italian population is "older" on average. That's not because it ceased to attract Italian immigrants in the postwar years, it's because New York was already a very large metropolis with a very large Italian population, so the weight of the postwar immigration was less significant than in Toronto. Manhattan's Little Italy has long ceased to be an Italian enclave. However the Italian neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx (Bensonhurst/Dyker Heights, Howard Beach, Morris Park etc.) are largely made up of postwar immigrants and their children. Bensonhurst for example wasn't even an Italian neighborhood in 1950, it was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. It became New York's "real Little Italy" when an influx of immigrants arrived between 1950 and 1970. But today, just as in Toronto, the old Italian neighborhoods have declined, as Italian immigration has virtually ceased and many Italians have moved to Long Island, Staten Island and New Jersey.

The postwar wave to the US was modest in terms of its share of the Italian American population and it was heavily skewed towards the New York area. Many other cities with large Italian American cities were barely impacted by this influx, such as San Francisco. This article discusses why Italian culture has held up in NY/NJ much more than in the Bay Area. The author attributes the differences to 1) the sheer size of the Italian population, which resulted in residential concentration in the suburbs and 2) postwar immigrants reinforcing Italian culture.

http://www.iitaly.org/bloggers/1761/californian-goes-east

The Chinese in all three cities are majority foreign-born. The third and fourth generations represent a small proportion of the population. Even the West Coast cities of San Francisco and Vancouver, which have old historic Chinatowns, were less than 5% Chinese in 1960.
 

wild goose chase

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The author attributes the differences to 1) the sheer size of the Italian population, which resulted in residential concentration in the suburbs and 2) postwar immigrants reinforcing Italian culture.
The point about immigrant communities being reinforced by newer immigrants is an interesting one. The author mentions Italians on H1-B visas in Silicon Valley and new East African immigrants (with colonial ties to Italy) in Oakland, but I do question the extent that new waves and older waves from the same source country interact culturally. In the case of Italians on the working visa, I doubt they'd relate much or socialize in the older Italian American community enough to infuse the ways of the old country back into it. I also wouldn't imagine, that say Irish students and workers from contemporary Ireland alone would revive Irish culture in the US. But say, whether the recent very large and continuing Chinese or Indian waves of immigrant will make second and third generation Chinese- and Indian-Americans keep themselves more in touch with the "homeland" could be different. Or maybe not. Even in Toronto, I hear that different waves from the same country or region, like the Chinese (those from Hong Kong vs. mainland China) or Russians (20th century and before, which included many Russian Jews, versus the post- Soviet Union Russian immigrants) already see themselves as distinct. If two people from different waves of the same source country already see themselves as different, despite common ancestry, maybe nothing is shared.

In terms of new immigrant waves reinforcing an older one to keep its culture I can imagine it would be dependent on how far apart the waves are, how culturally/demographically similar the waves are, as well as how continuous (did one wave stop and then after a long period, a new wave happened), as well as if the later wave is larger than the older one, even enough to supplant its more "assimilated" culture or vice versa. In New York, the pre-war and post-war Italian waves might be close enough in time to have continuity, since Italian culture is not lost between waves, but maybe not so much in other cities (the latest wave may only be a trickle of educated workers from the EU or something) like San Francisco as the author mentions.
 
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King of Kensington

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In terms of new immigrant waves reinforcing an older one to keep its culture I can imagine it would be dependent on how far apart the waves are, how culturally/demographically similar the waves are, as well as how continuous (did one wave stop and then after a long period, a new wave happened), as well as if the later wave is larger than the older one, even enough to supplant its more "assimilated" culture or vice versa. In New York, the pre-war and post-war Italian waves might be close enough in time to have continuity, since Italian culture is not lost between waves, but maybe not so much in other cities (the latest wave may only be a trickle of educated workers from the EU or something) like San Francisco as the author mentions.
This is 100% bang on. Yes, in New York - postwar Italian immigrants were similar enough to the Italian American community to have an impact on it. They came from the same regions of southern Italy (Sicily, Bari, Campania, Calabria etc.) and had low levels of educational attainment and moved into Italian neighborhoods. And the distance wasn't that far apart - about a quarter-century between the end of the Ellis Island wave and the beginning of the postwar wave. The small number of Italian immigrants that have come since the 1980s have mostly been highly educated, professional northerners so they don't really relate to the existing Italian American population.

An example of an "undiluted" Italian American community - i.e. not impacted that much by postwar immigration - is Philadelphia. And yet there's still a strong Italian American identity and residential concentration in South Philly.

In terms of Irish immigrants in NYC and Boston, I'm not sure what impact it had. Obviously recent Irish immigrants are very distant from the fifth generation Americans who ancestors came in the 19th century. Though in between these waves were early 20th century and postwar ones (think of Frank McCourt for example). Interestingly, the mayor of Boston is the son of Irish immigrants.
 
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King of Kensington

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Since you're in Chicago, it's interesting to note that it received a lot of Polish immigrants in the 1980s and 1990s, and they settled in the same Northwest Side Polish American neighborhoods and followed them into the inner northwest suburbs. There is much more distance, both in historic time and experience, between this group from Communist and post-Communist Poland and the "Polonia" folk culture of the descendants of earlier immigrants.
 

Mislav

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As an immigrant from the UK in the mid-1970s, I've never really referred to myself as an Englishman. Since my youngest days I've considered myself just a Canadian. Of course my immigration story is vastly different than those from non-English speaking, non-white countries, but I sometimes wonder if we'd rather not recognize English immigrants at all.



http://www.amazon.ca/Invisible-Immi...022&sr=1-2&keywords=canada+english+immigrants
The fact is that Canadian culture was founded on the basis of British culture and French culture in the French speaking areas. If you take a look at our traditions, legal and political system it's very similar to U.K. Even if you want to buy a house in the U.K. the process is a lot more similar to Canada than it would be in other European countries. That's why it seems it was easier for the English to integrate than other nationalities (that and the language of course).

Nonetheless even though they're well integrated, you would still be able to pick out a Brit through his accent, assuming he came here as an adult. I came to Canada when I was 4 from a state that doesn't exist anymore, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and my parents were in their late 20s. Although we have integrated quite well and my parents call themselves Canadians or Croatian Canadians, I still feel that I'm a lot more culturally tied to Canada and to Anglo-Saxon culture than them since I grew up and went to school here and speak English accent free (or with a standard North American accent). Nonetheless if we were Brits, I would imagine the cultural differences would be a lot smaller and we would hence be "invisible immigrants" assuming my parents would change their accents :).
 

Memph

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Come to think of it, there seems to be an unspoken connotation or double standard people give to the label "immigrant" which seems based on how culturally distinct one is from the host country. Immigrant technically means anyone from any one country that moves to live in any other country. so even an American that naturalized as a Canadian last year would be an immigrant.

Yet, those from culturally and perhaps geographically distant places get the label. I feel like you rarely hear say, an American or British person moving to Canada called an immigrant (you might just say, "he was born in the UK", or "she's from the States" but not "immigrated from the States/the UK"), yet if it were someone from South Korea, or Poland or Tanzania, people would use the word. Also people sometimes even use the word immigrant in a term like "third generation immigrant", which makes little sense (if you've had citizenship in the host country all your life, you're not an immigrant) and in these cases, it's implied to be number of generations removed from a country perceived to be very different from here.
What would you say is the most common term, third-gen immigrant or third-gen Canadian? Personally I've always used x-generation Canadian assuming they have citizenship (which they would for 2nd/3rd gen), but I haven't really paid attention to which term others use.
 

the lemur

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I think you've hit the nail on the head here... American assimilation has created some very interesting and rich hybrid-type cultural identities, ones that borrow ideas from the 'old' culture and adapts them into an american context, i.e. the 'Irish American' you speak of or the 'Italian American' are really a hybrid of nostalgic/received ideas of a mythologized homeland (likely never visited among successive generations) superimposed onto the mythology of the American experience (the whole 'Ellis Island'/ 'American dream' ideal etc)... of course the african-American hybrid is just about the best example. The American latino hybrid culture is emerging too.

These uniquely American cultural identities are a) part of the bigger whole (the 'Ellis Island'/'American Dream' myth unites them) and b) have next to no real resemblance to the identities of the original homelands themselves. These are distinct identities that over time have developed their own cuisines (Italian American pizza is almost nothing like Italian), their own speech dialects, cultural practices, and their own unifying histories now too. This is the effect of the American melting pot and I think it's pretty cool.

My suspicion is that Canadian Multiculturalism doesn't have quite the same effect, it places far more emphasis on celebrating the homeland/keeping it alive in Canada rather than adapting it to the new land. The one major exception to this being the French Canadian culture, which is not surprising as policies in Quebec resemble a U.S. model of assimilation and adaption far more than what we see anywhere else in Canada.
I would say this is true. Italian-Americanness has a lot of time separating it from its Italian origins, but Italian emigration to Canada is still relatively recent and more connected to Italy. There was a piece in the Star yesterday about the reception that The Sopranos had in Italy - even putting aside the fact that the Mafia is not a part of the Italian-North American experience for many people, Italian audiences seemed to dislike being reminded that Italian-Americans are disappointingly gauche and unlike Italian Italians. I don't know why this was a surprise - there was even an episode that highlight this intra-Italian culture clash.
 

the lemur

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When it comes to preservation of things like language, certain Canadian communities did seem to keep theirs for quite a long time ( Ukrainian, Scottish and Irish), but I do wonder if on the whole, language preservation (for non-English, non-French or Aboriginal tongues) is rare and hard to come by past a couple generations (Irish Americans in Boston may not be very Irish-speaking, but it's not like you regularly hear Irish Canadians in Toronto doing so either).
It's very uncommon to encounter actual Irish people using Irish except in certain rural areas. There was a TV series in Ireland several years ago in which a guy attempted to travel around the country using only Irish to communicate; in many cases he was met with helpless non-comprehension, people struggling to recall their school Irish or actual hostility.

I did once overhear two guys talking in Irish in a line at a fast-food place in Toronto a few years ago. When they got to the counter one of them asked the server for 'red sauce' to go with his fries ...
 

the lemur

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Since you're in Chicago, it's interesting to note that it received a lot of Polish immigrants in the 1980s and 1990s, and they settled in the same Northwest Side Polish American neighborhoods and followed them into the inner northwest suburbs. There is much more distance, both in historic time and experience, between this group from Communist and post-Communist Poland and the "Polonia" folk culture of the descendants of earlier immigrants.
I wonder if there's a similar divide between earlier Polish arrivals who formed the Roncesvalles community (and mostly moved out) and more recent ones who skipped Roncesvalles entirely and settled in Etobicoke and Mississauga, occasionally venturing downtown.
 

Filip

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I would say this is true. Italian-Americanness has a lot of time separating it from its Italian origins, but Italian emigration to Canada is still relatively recent and more connected to Italy. There was a piece in the Star yesterday about the reception that The Sopranos had in Italy - even putting aside the fact that the Mafia is not a part of the Italian-North American experience for many people, Italian audiences seemed to dislike being reminded that Italian-Americans are disappointingly gauche and unlike Italian Italians. I don't know why this was a surprise - there was even an episode that highlight this intra-Italian culture clash.
When I introduced my Italy-Italian friends to the concept of ginos, guidos and Jersey Shore, they couldn't believe it.

When you know real Italians and compare them to the Italians here, it's more contrast than night and day.
 

the lemur

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As an immigrant from the UK in the mid-1970s, I've never really referred to myself as an Englishman. Since my youngest days I've considered myself just a Canadian. Of course my immigration story is vastly different than those from non-English speaking, non-white countries, but I sometimes wonder if we'd rather not recognize English immigrants at all.
I don't know if it it's a question of not wanting to recognize them. UK immigrants tend to integrate here within one generation almost without any effort. Unless you're really conspicuous and conscientious about maintaining the old ways and passing them on to your kids (foods, customs, cultural references ... accent?). The British-Canadian community here is not fostering values or customs that are all that different from mainstream Canada's.
 

King of Kensington

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I did once overhear two guys talking in Irish in a line at a fast-food place in Toronto a few years ago. When they got to the counter one of them asked the server for 'red sauce' to go with his fries ...
I've definitely been hearing a lot more Irish accents in the last decade or so. But this group is obviously very different from the descendants of 19th century immigrants who "melted" long ago.
 

King of Kensington

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When I introduced my Italy-Italian friends to the concept of ginos, guidos and Jersey Shore, they couldn't believe it.

When you know real Italians and compare them to the Italians here, it's more contrast than night and day.
Are you "real Italian" friends from Calabria?
 

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