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Johnny Lombardi: Life and Memorials Essay

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Updated: Nov 28th, 2021

Prominent historical, political or cultural figures or events are commemorated or honored by different counties, states, and even cities in different ways. The use of monuments, plaques and memorials is one of the ways that this prominent figures or persons and events can be honored. These monuments, plaques and memorials are placed in physical places or sites where people came to see for the remembrance of the figures or events. These monuments are placed in either public or private spaces where they can establish a connection of the commemoration in the immediate area in which it is placed (Birk, 14-26).

As one walks around the great Toronto area, he or she can identify a monument of one of the personalities who is well known; Johnny Barbalinardo Lombardi on the south-west corner of College and Grace Streets. Johnny Barbalinardo Lombardi is one of the pioneers who were involved in the promotion of cultural diversity in Toronto. He was born in Toronto city, Trinity Square in December 4, 1915 to an immigrant Italian family in the winter. He studied music in his childhood and played the harmonica. At the age of ten, he set up a mobile shoeshine stand in downtown Toronto and when there was no job, he used to saunter over and catch a glimpse of the performance in the theater. A charitable and service club of the Columbus boys club and Boys K club which was a club for the underprivileged kids enabled him to study music (Wells, 8). He then joined the Harmonica Bands and the Clubs Bugle after which he formed a boy’s club orchestra. At 14 years he joined Frank Busseri famous dance band and later, he formed his own band which played at all spots in the town.

In the 1930s, Johnny left Toronto and went to London to join Benny Palmers where he played trumpet and became a trumpeter. In the 1942 he joined the Canadian Army and served in the Second World War. At the end of the war, he returned to Toronto where he started a grocery shop of which he was the proprietor and then he became an impresario of Italian entertainment, this made him become successful by appealing to the needs of Italian immigrants who were rapidly increasing in the city. During the late 1950s the grocery business expand which forced him to shift to 637 college next to the Grace street. He later established two crucial institutions in Toronto in 1966.

Dynamic and kind, Lombardi time-honored numerous awards there service to their society and country, For example, in 1981 he was awarded the Order of Canada, and In 2002, Lombardi family and other parties shaped his monument as a commemorative plaque to his life and great work he had done to the society which is now being managed by the Toronto city municipal council. From the monument, aThe first radio station; the CHIN, that was licensed to offer full time multilingual programming in Canada was started above Johnny’s supermarket which was situated at 637 College Street. In 1970 he started a television station.

Bronze statue of Johnny, which is full of life is placed in the heart of the pizza. Across from Johnny, there is a statue of a boy who is wearing Johnny’s cap. On the piazza, there is a drawing of continents, people and nations being together as shown by the continuous lines. As you looked closely at the plaque there is some writing on it. This state’s how Johnny Lombardi was a pioneer in promotion of cultural diversity of Toronto. His story and achievements between 1915 and 2002 are told on the plaque. How he was born to an Italian immigrant family in the city and the way he became a self taught trumpeter forming a boys orchestra group and going to London to play the trumpet.

After which he joined the Canadian army where he fought in the world war two. He then returned to Toronto where he achieved success by appealing the rapid growing Italian migrant needs in the neighborhood by managing a grocery shop which grew to a supermarket and as an impresario during Italian entertainment. He also in 1966 he launched the CHIN international Picnic and the CHIN Multicultural Radio. Above his supermarket, the first radio station that was incensed in Canada to offer full time multilingual programming the CHIM was situated. He also in 1970 started a television station. The plaque also tells of how the CHIN radio is now broadcasting in more than 30 languages from the 622 college street.

Johnny Lombardi’s monument is placed on the south-west corner of College Street and Grace Streets, it is outside the supermarket and the CHIN radio and television station on the sidewalk of the Grace street on the public space that belongs to the city. The city of Toronto in cooperation with local business and family members with the help of sculptors designed the monument of Johnny Lombardi. It was place on the corner of College Street and Grace Street. The monument fits the location as it was place outside the building that had the CHIN multicultural radio and television that was launched in the 1966 and 1970 respectively. The building where on it’s outside the monument of Johnny is placed contained his supermarket which was run by his wife and sister.

The monument of Johnny which contains the piazza made in an ocean wave way containing the statue of Johnny Lombardi and a young body wearing his hat is easily noticed by anyone who passes through the college street and the grace street. The drawing of continents and nations also makes the monument more prominent. Johnny Lombardi who is commemorated in the monument does not contrast with the location because the same location which is between the college and grace street is where his businesses were located (Wells, 70-95). Also around this location is where Johnny launched his radio and television station on the top room of his supermarket which is just besides the supermarket, therefore the location of the Lombardi monument does not in any way contrast with his life. Johnny Lombardi memorials, which happen every year on March 18, bring people from different places into the CHIN international people for celebrating the effort of Johnny in making Canada a multicultural community. There are no debates concerning his memorial because of the life that he lived envisioning a Canada with no discrimination but of diverse cultures. His vision has come true as I realized the radio station he started almost forty years ago has now more than thirty languages. During his memorial, about 250,000 people attend the ceremony on the CHIN international picnic.

John Lombardi’s story in the monument is all about his life from childhood where he learnt music after which playing the trumpet in London and then joining the Canadian army to fight on the Second World War. The monument of Johnny also tells about the coming back of Johnny to Toronto then starting a business, then a radio and television station. It does not show any speak of any form of conflict but shows how Johnny Lombardi brought cultural diversity in the city of Toronto and he is celebrated for as being a great, dynamic and generous person in the city of Toronto. The monument also commemorates his hard work and desire to becoming a great person.

Johnny Lombardi was born in an Italian immigrant family in Toronto and went through studies in music in a school that was supported by the local boys club for the underprivileged kids and ended up becoming a prominent and pioneer of the city of Toronto cultural diversity. He becomes a self taught trumpeter and entertainer in London before joining the Canadian army after which returning to Toronto where brings the community of little Italy in Toronto city. He started a grocery business which grew into a supermarket in the street of college. In a room above the supermarket he started a CHIN Multicultural radio station which became the first radio station to be licensed in Canada to offer full time multicultural programming. He caught a variety of awards during his life time such as the order of Canada for his service to his county and community. Because of his great achievement and service to the community, after his death, the city of Toronto, his family members and the local businesses decide to put a monument of him in front of the house that had his stations and business.

They erected a piazza and statue of him and a young boy with his cap showing his inspiring vision of Johnny’s multicultural Canada. The use of bronze in making his statue shows how much he was respected and honored. The drawing of continent, nations and people shows how Johnny reached a diverse number or people around the continent.

The monument

The monument is placed on the junction of College Street and Grace Street where it is possible to easily see the monument and on the exact location where he had his businesses and station from which he created the diversity of the city of Toronto. This location makes it an appropriate point as it connects the past life of Johnny and his achievement. The monument gives memories of Johnny Lombardi achievements and honor during his life between December 4, 1915 and March 18, 2002.

During his memorials, people gathered at the CHIN International picnic to celebrate a life well lived by one of the pioneers of cultural diversity in the city of Toronto. Not much debate about his life and memorials is said as he was a person who brought people together through his music and creating a system of diverse culture. Johnny Lombardi’s creation of cultural diversity in Toronto is seen by the radio station that he launched have more than thirty languages covering the people of not only Toronto but also the large Canada as a country and all over the continent. Even though he comes from a background that was not rich and he can only study though the help of the Columbus Boys club and Boys K club that helped unprivileged kids, he ends up becoming one of the respected and pioneers of cultural diversity in the city of Toronto and also Canada as a whole. The monuments, plaques and memorials, therefore provide a better use of spaces where on a private or public space. They make a place to be easily known or located by the use of the historic persons or events as well as making it memorable. For instance the Johnny Lombardi on the junction of College Street and Grace Street on south west of the city of Toronto give a better location of the place and the buildings as well as giving the location a memorable feature

Work cited

Ayub, Birk. Private Griefs, Public Places: Political Geography. Longman, 2003.

Ken, Well. The Material and Visual Culture of Cities: Space and Culture, Sage Publications, 2007, 244 pages.

Ken, Well. Symbolic Capital and Material Inequalities: Memorializing Class and Race in the Multicultural City, Space and Culture, University of Texas Press, 2007, 274 pages.

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