Such Hardworking People provides a perceptive description of the working-class experiences of immigrants who came to Toronto from southern Italy between 1946 and 1965. Franca Iacovetta focuses on the relations between newly arrived workers and their families, showing that the Italians who came to Toronto during this period were predominantly young, healthy women and men eager to obtain jobs and prepared to make sacrifices in order to secure a more comfortable life for themselves and their children.
Iacovetta examines the changes many had to face during the transition from peasant worker in an under-developed, rural economy to wage-earner in an urban, industrial society. Their experiences in Canada, she reveals, were shaped by class, gender, and ethnicity as well as familial responsibilities, government policies, and racism. In addition to conducting numerous interviews, Iacovetta has drawn on recent scholarship in immigration, family, labour studies, oral history, and women's history. Although both women and men struggled and were exploited, Iacovetta shows that they found innovative ways to recreate cherished rituals and customs from their homeland and managed to derive a sense of dignity and honour from the labours they performed.