179 Dundas Street, Lombardo's Tailor Shop (father of Guy Lombardo)

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Lombardo's Tailor Shop (father of Guy Lombardo)

This 1921 building reflecting a plain red brick commercial style was initially J.M. Thomson ladies' wear and was involved for subsequent decades in hat sales, hair styling and beauty parlours. Before this building was erected, the most important tenant of 179, Dundas Street was the father of the famous bandleader Guy Lombardo, who had a tailor shop at this address between 1916 and 1918. Guy Lombardo's story is inextricably linked to the arrival of the first Italian immigrants in London.

In 1874 the first Italian immigrants arrived in what was then a conglomeration of suburbs with a population of 25,000. A wealthy engineer, Ingegner Ribighini, had been actively engaged in the petroleum industry in the nearby town of Petrolea, also nicknamed "Canada's Victorian oil town" and often credited with starting the oil industry in Canada. Ribighini had established his base of operations as a commission merchant in London (ON) and, finding the city lacking a custom tailor, he placed an advertisement in an Italian language newspaper in New York City, in an attempt to attract the attention of an Italian tailor willing to migrate to the then oil refining capital of Canada. This advertisement was seen by the young tailors Carmelo Paladino, Angelo D'Ambra, Giuseppe Famularo and their families. The group numbered at least fifteen people and, as was the custom for most Italian emigrants at the time, it was primarily made up of families who knew or were related to each other before leaving their homeland. The group had emigrated from the tiny volcanic island of Lipari en route to Buenos Aires. Sensing its similarity to their lifestyle and traditions, many Southern Italian communities at the time pursued the Latin American continent. It turned out that their ship had been taken off course by a storm and was forced to enter into New York harbour. It was on this occasion that they read Ribighini's announcement and decided to immigrate to Canada, specifically to the city of London (ON). One of Carmelo Paladino's daughters, Angelina, who was born in 1879, was to become the mother of Guy (Gaetano Alberto) Lombardo, the famous singer and bandleader who rose to fame in the first half of the twentieth century. Many of the first Italian immigrants had tailor shops in the downtown close by to the area, bounded by Dufferin, Queens, Ridout and Richmond, which came to be known as the "Latin Quarter." Many children of Italian families learnt to play musical instruments and to sing, and for the next decades Italian immigrants were mostly employed in the music industry. It is rumoured that as a teenager Guy Lombardo, together with his brothers, would practice his music at the back of his father's tailor shop.










179 Dundas Street
London, Ontario
Canada N6A 1G4