Jewish Farmers on the Canadian Prairies

Please do click on the links in the text. They lead to so much fascinating information.

This post on Jewish farmers on the Canadian prairies was inspired by Land of Hope, the memoirs of Clara Hoffer. In 1907 Clara’s husband, Israel, co-founded the Sonnenfeld Colony in Saskatchewan. Clara had lived previously a little further north with her parents in the Lipton Colony, which was founded by Baron Hirsch’s Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) in 1901. Land of Hope was sent to me by Mark Gardner whose grandfather Aaron and great-uncle Harry also settled in Sonnenfeld. I am very grateful.

The Background

Louis Rosenberg, JCA Western Canada Director, 1916. Courtesy of Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada.

Between 1884 and 1912 thirty-one Jewish farming settlements were formed on the Canadian prairies spread out among three western provinces, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. 1 That is quite a hefty figure. Especially, when we remember that farming was not at all a typical Jewish profession where these settlers came from, Eastern Europe and Russia.

But somehow in Canada, things were different. As the Western Canada Director of Baron Hirsch’s Jewish Colonization Association, Louis Rosenberg noted, among all the peoples who settled in Canada, the percentage of those who farmed in Canada is lower than the percentage who farmed in their country of origin. Except for the Jews. By coming to Canada the Jews actually increased the percentage of farmers in their community. 2

And in Saskatchewan where most of the Jewish farming colonies were located, Jewish homesteaders were some of the first in the province. They arrived before the Doukhobors, Russians, Germans, Hungarians, and Ukrainians. “Only the “Mennonites and immigrants from Britain and Iceland,” preceded the Jews.3 In fact, the earliest marked grave in all of the Canadian prairies can be found in the Hirsch Colony cemetery. It belongs to Judah Blank and is dated December 18, 1894. 4

Baron Hirsch Helps Them Out

Baron Maurice de Hirsch

Baron Hirsch’s generosity helped many of these farmers. ( For a thorough discussion of how Baron Hirsch funds came to Canada see Chiel, Arthur (1961) Agricultural Attempts, “The Jews of Manitoba, ” University of Toronto Press, 1961. ) Hirsch’s Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) only established two of the colonies, Hirsch and Lipton. But there was not one farming community “in the whole of Canada that [did] not benefit … from the assistance of [the JCA].” 5 The JCA helped build synagogues, offered the original capital for cooperatives, paid for teachers and rabbis, and gave out loans at half the usual bank rates, over 2000 loans between 1900 and 1923. 6

Spirit of Jewish farm colonies lives on, Leader-Post, Regina, July 5, 1980, pp. 8-9.

In fact, when the Regina, Saskatchewan Leader-Post published a story in July 1980 on the Jewish Farming Communities, they chose as their lead photo a portrait of the Baron.

This post is just an outline of this Canadian prairie story and doesn’t cover all of the settlements. There is so much more to tell and so many wonderful sources. So click on all the links in the text and footnotes and enjoy the richness of this history. Note that in footnote nr. 7 you can find a list of major works on this agricultural adventure.7

And if you are looking for information on a particular Jewish Canadian prairie farmer go to the website of the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network and put his or her name into the search bar. You could be amazed by what you find.

The Beginning

Sir Alexander Galt8

The year was 1882 and Sir Alexander Galt, Canada’s High Commissioner (Ambassador) in London was looking to help the Canadian government populate the Canadian West. The West had just become part of Canada a dozen years before. A transcontinental railroad, the Canadian Pacific, was being built, and treaties with the indigenous peoples had made the land available for settlers. Interestingly, the Canadians not only sought to build out their nation. They also wanted to settle the West quickly because they feared that pioneers in the United States would seek to extend the border further north. In addition, Galt had plans to build railroads to hook up with the transcontinental to transfer the coal from his newly purchased mines.

Sigue leyendo
  1. FRIEDGUT, T. H. (2007). Jewish pioneers on Canada’s prairies: The Lipton Jewish agricultural colony. Jewish History, 21(3/4), p. 390. []
  2. Rosenberg, Louis, (1939) ” “Jews in Agriculture,” in Canada’s Jews: A social and economic study of Jews in Canada in the 1930s, p 218. , Text available at archive.net To use archive.net you need to establish a free account. []
  3. Feldman, Anna (1995) A Woman of Valor, Who Can Find, Jewish-Saskatchewan Women in Two Rural Settings, 1882-1939, Historical Essays on Saskatchewan Women, eds: David De Brou, ‎Aileen Moffatt, University of Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, p. 62 []
  4. Archer, John, Early Jewish Settlement in Western Canada, Part II, Viewpoint, Vol. 2, No. 4, 1967, p. 4 []
  5. Rosenberg (1939) p 218. archive.net To use archive.net you need to establish a free account. []
  6. Belkin, Simon (1926), “Jewish Colonization in Canada,” in Arthur Daniel Hart, ed., The Jew in Canada (Toronto and Montreal), pp. 486-487 (pp. 506-507 in the digital version. ) []
  7. Major Works on Jewish Farmers on the Canadian Prairies:

    Chiel, Arthur (1961) “Agricultural Attempts, “The Jews of Manitoba, ” University of Toronto Press, pp. 43- 47,

    Settling the West: Immigration to the Prairies from 1867 to 1914, Canadian Museum of Immigration, Jan. 2022.

    Belkin, Simon (1926), “Jewish Colonization in Canada,” in Arthur Daniel Hart, ed., The Jew in Canada (Toronto and Montreal), pp. 483-488 (pp. 503-508 in the digital version),

    Wolff, Martin. “THE JEWS OF CANADA.The American Jewish Year Book 27 (1925): 154–229. ( see especially Agricultural Colonies pp. 192-198)

    Rosenberg, Louis (1939), Jews in Agriculture, Canada’s Jews, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, pp. 217-225. (This is on archive.net. To use archive.net you need to establish a free account.) []

  8. Library and Archives Canada, MIKAN 3215898  []

Baron Hirsch, An Amazing New Biography

Mathias Lehmann, professor of Jewish History at the University of California, Irvine has just published The Baron: Maurice de Hirsch and the Jewish Nineteenth Century. a biography of Baron Hirsch that fills a major gap, the lack of biographies of the Baron in English. 1

And Lehmann also provides us an eyewitness view of so much of Baron Hirsch’s life, based on Lehmann’s extensive archival research in Austria, Belgium, England, France, Israel, Turkey, and the United States.

The Embankment, Ostend, Belgium 1890s , the resort to which Baron Hirsch was summoned by King Leopold II, Library of Congress.

Readers will enjoy this very readable and delightfully detailed text that describes human beings, not just historical figures. We are able to see the building of transcontinental railroads and the formation of huge refugee projects from the details of the daily activities that led to these achievements, as exemplified by the book’s first paragraph ” At seven o’clock one summer morning in August 1895, Maurice de Hirsch, accompanied by his twenty-nine-year-old son Lucien, set out from Boitsfort, on the outskirts of Brussels, to catch the express train to the Belgian seaside resort of Ostend. The reason for that morning’s journey was a summons by King Leopold II, who was eager to convince the prominent Jewish banker and businessman to invest in the construction of a new railroad in the Belgian Congo.” 2

Sigue leyendo
  1. Other biographies include Grunwald, Kurt, Turkenhirsch: Study of Baron Maurice De Hirsch, 1966; Frischer, DominiqueEl Moises de las Americas: Vida Y Obra Del Baron De Hirsch (trans from French), 2004; Lee, Samuel,  Moses of the New World: The Work of Baron Hirsch (1970); Rozenblum, Serge-Allian Le Baron De Hirsch: Un Financier Au Service De L’humanite2006 []
  2. Lehmann, Mathias (2022). The Baron: Maurice de Hirsch and the Jewish Nineteenth Century, Stanford: Stanford University Press, p. 19. []

En una clara mañana de abril Lo más destacado

Prefacio y Capítulo 1

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Serie: Estudios judíos latinoamericanos Junio 2020 | 146 pp.

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RESUMEN

En una clara mañana de abril, por Marcos Iolovitch, es una historia lírica y fascinante de la mayoría de edad ambientada entre los colonos de principios del siglo XX llevada a un lugar casi desconocido Experimento agrícola judío en un rincón aislado de Brasil. Esta novela autobiográfica está llena de drama, alegría, desastres, romance y humor. Viaja desde granjas donde los cultivos no crecerán hasta pueblos donde el protagonista de habla yiddish se enamora, se hace amigo de hijos de inmigrantes alemanes, estudia filosofía con los jesuitas y se convierte en un miembro importante del mundo literario de Brasil. Esta primera edición en inglés incluye aclaraciones históricas sobre el origen de Comunidades agrícolas judías en los Estados Unidos, Canadá y Sudamérica por la traductora, Merrie Blocker, una oficial retirada del Servicio Exterior de los Estados Unidos.

Sobre el autor y traductor

Nacido en un pequeño pueblo ucraniano, Marcos Iolovitch Se crió en el sur de Brasil entre los agricultores y vendedores ambulantes judíos pobres. Se convirtió en un destacado poeta y ensayista y ejerció el derecho. Luchador por la justicia social, dedicó su novela autobiográfica a "todos los que sufren y sueñan con un mundo mejor".

Merrie Blocker es un ex diplomático estadounidense que se desempeñó como agregado cultural en Porto Alegre, Brasil, el escenario de En una clara mañana de abril, así como en Asia Central, Rumania y en toda América Latina.

Prefacio del traductor

Marcos Iolovitch, autor de En una clara mañana de abril, Fue un ávido estudiante de los grandes filósofos. Pero él creía que para alcanzar la "verdadera sabiduría" necesitamos abrir nuestras ventanas y observar los "sutiles matices de la realidad que nos envuelven". En esta novela autobiográfica, en la que un joven busca encontrar un camino justo y satisfactorio, vemos a este protagonista encantador y afectuoso descubrir su propia sabiduría a través de las realidades que lo envuelven, las realidades de los inmigrantes judíos en el sur de Brasil durante las primeras décadas de el siglo veinte.

Sigue leyendo

Merrie Blocker, Creador

Yo, Merrie Blocker, soy la creadora del baronhirschcommunity.org . Relatar y encontrar historias de agricultores judíos en el Nuevo Mundo y sus descendientes en todo el mundo es el propósito de este sitio.

Soy un oficial retirado del servicio exterior de los Estados Unidos. Puedes encontrar mi currículum aquí. Mi abuelo creció en una granja de pollos apoyada por Baron Hirsch en el noroeste de Connecticut, Estados Unidos. Pero solo aprendí eso recientemente cuando comencé a investigar El apoyo del barón Hirsch a los agricultores judíos. en todo el continente americano.

También traduje al inglés el primer trabajo en presentar a la comunidad judía en Brasil como tema. Es En una clara mañana de abril, Una novela autobiográfica de Marcos Iolovitch. En esta novela, él relata haber crecido como inmigrante ucraniano con la colonia agrícola Quatro Irmãos en el sur de Brasil. Quatro Irmãos fue una de las muchas colonias apoyadas por las donaciones del barón Hirsch.

Espero que nos envíe sus ideas para hacer de este un depósito en línea más rico.

En una clara mañana de abril

Un viaje judío brasileño

Cover of On a Clear April Morning, A Brazilian Jewish Journey of Immigration

La primera obra literaria que refleja la comunidad judía brasileña finalmente se publicó en inglés. Eso Ya está disponible.

Lea sobre esto aquí, mira el prefacio y el primer capítulo aquí y reservar el traductor, Merrie Blocker, para hablar con tu grupo.

En una clara mañana de abrilpor Marcos Iolovitch, es una historia lírica y fascinante sobre la mayoría de edad. Se establece entre los primeros 20th Los colonos judíos del siglo llevaron a un experimento agrícola desconocido en un rincón aislado de Brasil.

Drama, alegría, desastre, romance y humor llenan esta novela autobiográfica. El joven héroe viaja desde una granja, donde los cultivos no crecerían, a pueblos donde este joven de habla yiddish se enamora, estudia filosofía con los jesuitas y se convierte en un miembro importante del mundo literario de Brasil.

Esta primera edición en inglés incluye aclaraciones históricas de la traductora, Merrie Blocker, una oficial retirada del Servicio Exterior de los EE. UU. Cubren el origen de las comunidades agrícolas judías en los EE. UU., Canadá y América del Sur y las contribuciones de los judíos y otros inmigrantes al desarrollo de un centro intelectual de vanguardia lejos de los caminos trillados.