Outdoor Murals of Ottawa Canada
Corso Italia Heritage Mural

There is a massive mural on the underpass of Preston St. under the 417. It was planned by Joe Cotroneo as part of a conversion of the entire street into a pedestrian friendly center of Italian heritage, which is now largely a reality. It is the first time anywhere in the province that the provincial Ministry of Transportation has permitted such a project on one of their structures. (A hint to others considering a similar location for a mural: the mural was painted first, only then did Joe apply for permission! Just make sure your artist is as skilled as Karole is...)

The primary centers of Italian life are family, religion and food. Almost all the murals focus on one or more of these Italian themes, while the overall graphics that unify them symbolise the history of the surrounding community, now formally called Little Italy in English, Corso Italia by most who live there.

Religious festivals are a major feature of Little Italy, multifaceted events that combine social, recreational, and ethnic elements with a religious core. Five murals show such events.

The mural is sponsored by the Preston Street Business Improvement Association and the families commemorated. The artist for the project is Karole Marois.

[Map]  Overall view west side. The background symbolises the length of Preston St. from Dow's Lake at the south to the Ottawa River at the north. In between there is the Millennial Arch, the CN train that ran where the Queensway is now, the streetcars that ran along Preston for many years, the Plant Bath and the Booth lumber yards where so many of Little Italy's residents worked.

The panel shows a town of the Emilia region with Italian grandparents being visited by their Canadian grandchildren. The birds and ship evoke the experience of immigration, while the rainbow represents the serenity achieved as Canadians. The book was produced at the 25th anniversary of the association by members to help Italian values, culture and language to remain always in their families.
A bicycle race has been a central part of the annual Italian Week celebrations in Little Italy since its start in 1974. Pub Italia is shown in the background - its menu combines Joe Cotroneo's Italian heritage with the Irish heritage of his wife Rose, its decor features the religious heritage of both communities.
A family business since 1924, now in its third generation, the Licaris have worked on most buildings in Little Italy. The background shows the progression from the old stucco on lath to modern acrylic stucco. The photos include the three generations who have been principals in the business.
For half a century, Pasquale Zito and his son Joe supplied meat and groceries to Little Italy at 420 Preston St. The photos show Pasquale, his wife Angelina, and other members of their large family in front of their store.
After growing up on Preston St., Giovanni Giorgio kept Ottawa on the map of international hair styling excellence for 28 years. The images show him in 2000, his triumph at Toronto in 1961, an early advertisement, and at work in the '60s, a time when hair styling was an art form.
Slan Printing, run by Irishman Sheldon Mulligan at 440 Preston, occupies one of the original buildings of the area. The central panel shows the original subdivision plan of 1872, with the Slan Printing building highlighted, the right Sheldon with his two daughters. The left window lists the names of family and colleagues who have helped the business over the years.
The Sicula Society was formed in 1975 to unite people of Sicilian descent who reside in the Ottawa area. Sicilian culture reflects the diversity of the people who dominated the island in different periods in history: Greeks, Romans, Arabs, French, Spanish, Normans and Turks. A map of the island is surrounded by images symbolising that history and culture.
Leone Eramo grew up in Ottawa and has run the Ciccio Caffé since 1974, serving a wide variety of superb home-style Italian dishes. The mural shows his birthplace in Italy, the wedding of his parents, Leone himself and the names of his four sisters. Eramo Holdings supports Italian culture throughout Ottawa.
A family business now in its second generation, Musca was the first in Ottawa to import fresh grapes and juices from abroad. 50 years later, they still supply grapes, juices and concentrates from Italy and California, as well as wine-making supplies. The family also makes wine on premises for clients.
Saro Panuccio began in Canada in 1952 as a diesel mechanic, the small photo. In an upward success story shared by so many of his hard working countrymen, he was able to rent a gas station at 241 Preston in 1964, the main view at right, to buy it in 1974, and to add a body shop at 75 Aberdeen. His sons still run both businesses.
For more than 75 years, Joe Ierullo and Son Barber Shop at 432½ Preston Street provided haircuts, shaves and a hub for the men of the community to gather. The building has also been a home for 4 generations of the Ierullo family. The inserts include Giuseppe (Joe) with wife Vittoria, 3 daughters and son; "Tony the Barber" and wife Gail who raised their 3 children there; and their son Jason and wife Maria who now live there with 2 daughters. Other images shown are Tony barbering his father and his son Joseph.
The Order of Italo-Canadians was founded in 1927 as a fraternal non-profit organization. It protects and helps members in need, provides scholarships and raises funds for community events. The Order and its Charter allows all those of Italian descent to be fiercely Canadian yet still maintain and be proud of their Italian heritage.
The club was founded in 1973 by people from the Abruzzi region of Italy. It is now at 705 Gladstone. The emblems of the four provinces of the region symbolise the mountains, lakes, sea and parks of Abbruzzi, while the images include a view of its mountains, a church procession honouring Saint Gabriel, the patron saint of Abruzzi and a view of the center.
Since 1963, Luciano Gervasi has provided fine meats and other Italian specialties to the restaurants and homes of Little Italy and greater Ottawa. He is shown with his wife Tina at the store entrance. The adjacent House of Fresh Pasta was added in 1984 by Tony Zagaria to supply pasta, sauces and his famous focaccia breads. His children have now joined him in the business.
For 45 years, Emidio Peloso supplied fuel oils to Little Italy. The background is of his home town of Pretoro Italy; inserts show the original storefront at 350 Preston, photos of Emidio, his passport of 1953, his brother Gino, and his son Angelo who still services heating and cooling equipment.
About 2500 Italo-Canadians in Ottawa trace their origin to the town of Pretoro, shown in the background with the miracle of St.Dominique, its patron saint. Italian immigrants and their successful Canadian-born children surround the view of their new home, Ottawa.
The Ottawa St. Anthony Italia Soccer Club was founded in 1952 and has won many championships and trophies since. It's first clubhouse was bought in 1967 to support cultural, social and recreational activities. Today it occupies a large home on St. Anthony St. with extensive banquet facilities, but still focuses on its soccer programs from age five to old timers. Steno Rossanese was its president and guiding spirit from 1959 until his death in 2001.

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