The Early Jewish Community in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and area

November 18, 2002:

This material is a summary of "The Jews: An Influential Minority, 1882-1979" in Shirley E. Woods Jr.'s
book Ottawa, The Capital of Canada, pages 181-185.

The first Jewish resident of Ottawa was Moses Bilsky who arrived in Ottawa in 1857 from Kemptville.
He was born in Lithuania in 1830, and spent some time in British Columbia in 1861 during the Cariboo
Gold Rush and later fought in the American Civil War. In 1874 he married Pauline Reich from New York, USA. 
In the mid-1880's they bought a house on Daly Avenue. By 1888 there were enough Jewish people in Ottawa 
to form joint religious services. (see below, dated January 25, 2004)

Jacob Mirsky from New York was the first Rabbi. A synagogue was built on King Edward Avenue in 
Lowertown and this area was the early center of the Jewish community.

In the late 1890's, a new phenomenon was arriving on the scene in North America - the department store.
The first one was the Piggly Wiggly in the United States. In 1903, Archibald Jacob Frieman opened the first 
department store in Ottawa - the A.J. Frieman Store on Rideau Street. His son, Lawrence Frieman, received 
the Order of Canada in 1967.

David Mirsky created the Pure Spring Company at a stream which flowed down Nanny Goat Hill to Lebreton Flats.
This was beside the old Bradings Brewery which, if I remember correctly, was at the north
end of Preston Street. Pure Spring became the largest seller of Ginger Ale in Canada.

Moses Loeb arrived in Ottawa from Russia in 1912 and opened a store on Lebreton Flats at Wellington
and Broad Streets across from the CP Railway Station. My first job was at M.Loeb Limited on Industrial Avenus.

In 1969 J. Harold Shenkman (whose father came from Russia in 1905) donated $500,000 to build the
Young Men's Christian Association building on O'Connor Street at Catherine - where the old 
Ottawa Auditorium (professional and Junior "A" hockey) had been.
December 6, 2002: Roger Greenberg immigrated from Russia in 1913. His sons established a towel company and later, the Independent Bag Company which recycled burlap material. Eventually the family created Minto Construction Limited which is one of Ottawa's largest development companies. Lorry Greenberg was mayor of Ottawa from 1975 to 1978.
January 29, 2004: Here's Moses Bilsky in the 1881 Census for Renfrew North. Note that this area is still called "Unorganized Territory" in 1881. The area was on the frontier and had not yet been divided into Townships. 1881 Census Place: Unorganized Territory, Renfrew North, Ontario, Canada Source: FHL Film 1375871 NAC C-13235 Dist 114 SubDist M Div 5 Page 41 Family 202+ Sex Marr Age Origin Birthplace Moses BILSKY M M 38 Polish Poland Occ: Watch Maker & Jeweller Religion: Hebrew Paulina BILSKY F M 24 German Germany Religion: Hebrew Alexander BILSKY M 6 Polish USA Religion: Hebrew Samuel BILSKY M 3 Polish Ontario Religion: Hebrew Rebecca BILSKY F 1 Polish Ontario Religion: Hebrew
December 27, 2004: New Link: Jewish Community Council of Ottawa has more history of the Jewish Community. January 12, 2005: And thanks to Robert Sample for another link to Jewish genealogy.
October 18, 2009: The Ottawa Jewish Historical Society has just published a new book A Common Thread: A History of the Jews of Ottawa. The book is available from the Ottawa Jewish Historical Society and General Store Publishing House. It is also being released at 2:00 P.M. at Ben Franklin Place at Centrepointe today. ... Al

September 12, 2011: Brad Adlerstein is researching his ancestors, Abraham Lazarus FLORENCE and Lena PULLAN who came from Lithuania to Ottawa, Canada before 1900.
July 3, 2012: Here is a comment from Marc Aubin: The Jewish presence in Ottawa was an interesting one and we are actually trying to get a small portion of the neighbourhood designated a Jewish Heritage Conservation District. Hope this is helpful! Yours truly, Marc Aubin, Ottawa, Ontario
July 6, 2012: Here is the grave marker for Abraham Lazarus Florence (see link, above). Can someone volunteer to translate from Hebrew to English? We have a larger and clearer photo. Thanks, ... Al
grave marker for Abraham Lazarus Florence

September 26, 2012: Here is another very good book regarding Jewish history in the Ottawa area. It is an autobiography of Harold Rubin who came from Russia in 1912 and the book is called Those Pesky Weeds, edited by Shirley Berman of the Ottawa Jewish Historical Society in 1992, ISBN 0-9696-259-0-1. This book is in the Library of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. March 20, 2013: Archival Sources for the Study of Canadian Jewry, National Archives of Canada (Now Library and Archives Canada), by Lawrence F. Tapper, 1987, ISBN 0-662-55320-9 ... Al
October 5, 2013:
The Jewish Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Osgoode Township, Ontario, Canada Jewish Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Osgoode Township, Ontario, Canada
November 24, 2014: Obituary for Mr. Howard Osterer Howard Osterer, native of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Obituary for Howard Osterer, native of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
February 15, 2015: Here is another very good book: Taking Root, The Origins of the Canadian Jewish Community, by Gerald Tulchinsky, Lester Publishing Company, Toronto, 1992,ISBN 1-895555-13-2, hard cover, 341 pages.
New September 9, 2015:
Book by Monda Halpern about Jewish History in Ottawa, Canada

E-mail Marc Aubin and Al Lewis

Back to Bytown or Bust - History and Genealogy in the Ottawa area