Artist(s): Ryan Smeeton
Completed: May 2023
The Corso Italia Community Mural, located at 125 Preston Street, is the newest addition to the artistic landscape in Ottawa’s Little Italy. The mural was commissioned by the Preston Street BIA and funded in part by the City of Ottawa’s Mural and Architecture fund. Painted by local artist Ryan Smeeton, the Corso Italia Mural depicts some key elements of both local and broader Italian culture and heritage.
The focal point is a beautiful tarantella dancer in traditional costume. Tarantella is a lively southern Italian folk dance, and the dress of course represents national pride. Beside the tarantella dancer is the Corso Italia Portal Archway which was built in 2011. This neon archway acts as an entrance to the neighbourhood and was both commissioned and paid for by the merchants of the Preston Street BIA.
The yellow fiat, at the bottom of the mural is a reference to the Italian Car Club of Ottawa and the historical Italian Car Parade that has happened on Preston Street for the past 49 years.
St. Anthony’s Church is a key component of the mural. St. Anthony’s on Booth Street was first opened in 1908 as a small structure. Despite being rebuilt twice, the church remains today as a cultural landmark and the social centre for the Italian Canadian community in Ottawa.
Lastly, Chappie’s Lunch, located in the right corner of the mural depicts the history of the business community on Preston Street. Chappie’s Lunch was the first Italian Restaurant on Preston Street, and the building still stands today at 438 ½ Preston Street. Chappie’s Lunch was opened in 1945 by Albert “Chappy” Caramanico. Chappie’s Lunch closed its’ doors in 1955. Since Chappies, the neighbourhood has continued to grow into what it is today, a street full of great restaurants and unique shops.
This mural could not have been possible without the support of Ottawa City Councillor, Ariel Troster, and the City of Ottawa. A special thank you to Trina Constantini-Powell and the National Congress of Italian Canadians for identifying the culminating features of local Italian Canadian history to be included in this piece.
Thank you also to Tim Middleton and Toofan Chramin for allowing the BIA to use the wall at 125 Preston Street as a canvas. Lastly, thank you to Ryan Smeeton, the incredible artist who painted this piece.
Where to Find This Mural
Location: 125 Preston Street Ottawa, ON K1R 7P3 | Get Directions