Southwestern Ontario's largest and oldest Italian club is also the premier facility for many special events and occasions in the Windsor-Essex County region. Since its humble beginnings in 1925, the Giovanni Caboto Club has committed to a level of excellence unsurpassed by others. Each
year, the facility welcomes more than 2,000 events - a feat not possible without the service, dedication and support of the club's strong membership and professional staff.
What is now considered this region's finest Italian club began as a concept from the minds of a few Italian immigrants in late 1924. The men wanted to establish a club for the many Italian immigrants living in Windsor - a meeting place that would encourage comraderie among these new Canadian citizens
who didn't know the English language or culture, but shared a common cultural thread.
An Important Event in Canadian Club History
A group of 10 organized their first event, a dance on New Year's Eve, 1924 in the gymnasium of the former St. Joseph's Separate School. Response to the dance encouraged their decision to formalize as the Border Cities Italian Club in January 1925. By the end of the first year, membership had grown to
109 and the club enjoyed a financial reserve of $1,154.22. Soon the club became a vital part of the local community through events and fundraisers. Club records indicate an early commitment to supporting local charities with a $47.12 donation to the Goodfellows Club of Windsor. Even though the Border
Cities Italian Club was incorporated in 1927, the first associations of Giovanni Caboto were made at this time.
The First Club Expansion
In the early thirties, the Club had begun to outgrow its shared facilities at St. Joseph's School so the decision was made in May 1934 to purchase the property at 966 Wyandotte St. E. for $5,000. Shortly after the property purchase, hard times followed and many members could no longer sustain their membership
and were forced to leave the club. Despite the loss, the club continued to function. By 1940 however, the strain of WWII forced the club to surrender its beer license and close its clubrooms to the general public. Five years later, the license was returned, and the clubrooms reopened.
Move Sparks Banquet Hall Growth
Upon the arrival of new immigrants, club activity flourished in the late forties and there was discussion once again about how to accommodate the growth. The membership agreed in late 1948 to search for land to construct a larger building. In March 1949, the decision was made to purchase the current site
at 2175 Parent Avenue. Members came forward and generously offered their time and materials to the construction project. Upon opening in 1950, the new building was the most modern facility in Windsor and became the popular choice for banquet hall rental and catering services. The growth required a full
time manager to operate the Club. The mortgage was paid off within only five years.
In 1958, the club added to its land ownership with the purchase of an existing park located on Lake Erie in the Village of Colchester. The new Caboto Park, still open today, was for the benefit of members to use as a summer haven. The park still features a swimming pool, picnic areas, clubhouse and bocci
courts open to anyone from Victoria Day to Thanksgiving.
Expansions Elevate Club to World-Class Standards
More land was purchased to accommodate further expansion and in 1972, the Club grew to more than twice its previous size. The expansion of the main kitchen in 1978 afforded the opportunity to provide rapid, well-organized food services for banquets. The addition enabled the Club to cater to as many as
1,800 people at one time. Throughout the years, several additions were made to make the facility what it is today - a full service Club with the capability to cater to up to 3,000 people at any given time. Notably, most of the expansion/renovation work has been done by the talented and committed volunteer-based
membership of the Club. In 1986, a $5 million renovation was launched to double the existing facility and elevate the Club to world-class standards.
Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot)
500th Anniversary Celebration
As the Club recognizes its members so does it frequently honour the famed explorer Giovanni Caboto, the great Italian who landed on Canadian soil in 1497 with sons Luigi, Sebastian and Sanzio. Caboto and his 18-man crew were the first Europeans to lay claim and, on behalf of the King of England, take
possession of what is today Newfoundland, Canada. In 1997, the Windsor-based Club honoured the 500th anniversary of the Italian explorer's landing with an entire year of activities to celebrate the historical event. A nine-foot high bronze statue of Caboto standing on a piece of granite from the shores
where Caboto and his crew landed and generously donated by the people of Newfoundland, was erected in a piazetta surrounded by benches, trees, balustrades and bricks engraved with the names of supporters of the project.
Track Record for Community Support
Since the early days, the Caboto Club has demonstrated a strong sense of civic duty and has been a strong supporter of community projects for the benefit of everyone. Throughout the years, the Club has donated millions of dollars to countless Windsor charities, youth recreation and scholarship programs.
This tradition of generosity and vitality has made the Caboto Club one of the largest, most successful and influential clubs in North America.