In the 1940s and 50s, many Italian immigrants had made their home and established businesses in the Commercial Drive area. Between the 1940s – 1980s, Commercial Drive had developed into an Italian enclave, otherwise known as Little Italy; and where Italo-Canadians played a key role in influencing and revitalising the landscape, including the introduction of street festivals – with the last one of this era being in 1982. It was an unforgettable day on Commercial Drive with thousands of Italo-Canadians pouring onto the street in a passionate display of emotion, celebrating Italy’s win in the World Cup, which fell on the very same day as the festival. It was a the first Italy World Cup win since the 1930s. In 2016, Italian Day marked another important day of celebration. In recognition of over 70 years of Italian heritage, an 8 block area of Commercial Drive was officially designated Little Italy by the Mayor and other officials, including a ribbon cutting and special visit from the Italian Ambassador to Canada. An achievement attributed to the support of government representatives, and community individuals and organizations, including the Italian Day Festival Society. The return of Italian Day on The Drive revived this heritage conversation and opportunity, and has proven to not only be a day of community celebration, but also an avenue encouraging collective goals and economic benefits for businesses and city.
Today, the 8 block Little Italy district is comprised of over 30 Italo-Canadian, family owned businesses, ranging from restaurants, bakeries, coffee bars, gelaterias, travel agencies, retail (clothing & shoes) and other services.