Italian Canadians Enlisting to Fight in World War 1

Italian Canadians

Italian Canadians in World War 1In this picture from 1915, a group of Italian Canadians reservists is marching through Toronto at the intersections of Yonge and Dundas Streets. Some are holding Italian flags while others are holding British and Canadian flags.

Many Italian Canadians felt a double duty to enlist and fight in the war since their mother country as well as their adopted country of Canada were both at war with the same enemy.

Italian Canadian Reservists 1915 closeup in suitsIn this closeup we can see some of the men in the center of the parade. They are wearing somewhat shabby suits. The idea of wearing suits to go to enlist in a war characterized by the muddy killing fields of the Western Front may seem ridiculous, but enlisting was seen as a momentous and formal affair (which it was) demanding a dignified attire. Many British men who signed up at the start of the war also reported for duty in formal attire for the same reason.

Italian Canadian Reservists 1915The three men in the front of the parade are better dressed than the rest and they may have been leaders within the Italian community.

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