The Republic of Malta is an archipelago comprised of 7 islands located in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily. Malta was a British colony from 1814 until 21 September 1964, when it gained its independence; 10 years later it became a republic.
The 2006 census recorded 37 120 people of Maltese origin in Canada, most of whom emigrated after World War II from the islands of Malta and Gozo. Maltese trace their ethnic and linguistic origins to the Phoenicians. The census showed 7130 who described their mother tongue (first language learned) as Maltese. The Maltese, who speak a Semitic tongue, celebrate their independence day on 21 September.
In Canada the Maltese settled first in Ontario; although significant immigration occurred in 1840, around 1907, and between 1918 and 1920, there were few Maltese in Canada until after World War II. Between 1946 and 1981 more than 18 000 came to Canada, but immigration has slowed significantly and in 2006 only 145 people emigrated from Malta. More than 50% of the Maltese in Canada live in Toronto (18 680) with a heavy concentration around Dundas St. West, where the Maltese Franciscan fathers built a church. Maltese clubs and societies are also located in this area. Other Maltese communities are found in Ontario and in Montréal, Winnipeg and Vancouver.