Winnipeg's Little Italy, a developmental model

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Spina, Giovanni John
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Since the late 1980s, three blocks of Winnipeg's Corydon Avenue, often known as "Little Italy", have emerged as a shopping and recreation destination for Winnipeggers and a tourist destination for visitors to the city. This thesis examines the nature of Corydon Avenue as a local tourist and business attraction based on environmental, physical, social and cultural considerations and proposes a five-stage model to account for the commercial development of a local destination based on the commercialization of ethnicity. Winnipeg's Little Italy is then examined in terms of this model. This study relies heavily upon qualitative data. Data sources include in-depth, open-ended interviews with members of Winnipeg's Italian community and with members of various groups who have been affected by, or have played varying roles in, the development, growth and promotion of Corydon Avenue. Research into the history and process of Italian immigration to Winnipeg was an integral part of this thesis as were direct observations of the Corydon Avenue streetscape. It is argued that action must be taken to preserve the commercial integrity of Italian culture in the city so that Little Italy survives. The most significant problem is the lack of a "community approach" by the Italian Population towards the preservation, development, promotion and cementation of Italian culture on Corydon Avenue. Until such issues are addressed, the relevance of the title Little Italy and continued commercial presence of the Italian community on Corydon Avenue is uncertain.