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.

Galt had just attended a meeting at the Mansion House, the residence of the Lord Mayor of London, to decry the barbaric treatment of Jews in Russia following horrific pogroms and the implementation of drastic anti-semitic measures. The meeting brought together over a hundred of Britain’s greatest political and intellectual leaders. These included Charles Darwin, Poet Robert Browning, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and eighteen members of parliament.

The meeting resulted in the formation of the Mansion House Committee. The Committee dedicated much of its first £108,000 ( $15 million in today’s dollars) to transporting Russian Jews to America “…and thus make of them economically independent individuals upon the soil of a new and free land.” 9

Jews to the Rescue

John A. Macdonald

Sir Alexander knew that the Canadian Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, was having a hard time fulfilling his pet project – forming a united Canada through the settlement of the freezing and then boiling, prairies of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Immigration was very slow even though the Canadian Government was paying steamship lines $5 ($170 in today’s dollars) for each European immigrant that arrived in Winnipeg or further west. 10

Originally, the Canadian government had offered private companies three million acres if they brought in settlers. But that project was failing. Only about 1200 had been settled instead of the hundreds of thousands thought needed.11

So Galt looked to the Jews. As he wrote to Macdonald ” From what I learn these Russian Jews are a superior class of people…. I found the American Jews were actively promoting emigration to the United States and I thought what was good for them could not be bad for us…. The Jews are really now so influential in Europe, that there can be no harm in cultivating them….” 12 Galt was successful. He did convince MacDonald to take advantage of the Mansion House funding and open up homesteads to Russian Jews. And so the Jews became some of the first European farmers in Western Canada.

The Jewish Homesteaders

These Jewish settlers took advantage of the Canadian homesteading scheme that offered 160 acres to anyone for $10 (approximately $320 in today’s values). Then after three years if they had built a house, seeded 25 acres, and plowed 30 acres they would receive clear title to the land and be offered an additional 160 acres.

News of this scheme was circulated in immigration handbooks sent to Europe by the Canadian government. They reached Eastern European Jews through a translation into Yiddish commissioned by a hopeful travel agent in Romania. 13.

Jewish settlers (from Romania) Samuel and Hanna Schwartz (on right) with daughter Simma and her husband in front of their sod house, Lipton district, ca. 1903. Saskatchewan Archives Board R-B1781

The hardships the settlers encountered would freeze the gumption out of even the most courageous. 14 They would get off the train and there would often be nothing, no town, no buildings, no trees, just dry prairie and wind, lots of wind.

With nighttime temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 celsius), their first winters spent in precarious shelters or even a hole in the ground must have been horrendous. But, once they had built a proper sod house life must have seemed almost luxurious. Although they still needed ropes tied to both the home and barn so they wouldn’t get lost in the blizzards.

Misguided Assistance

Baron Hirsch Institute, Montreal, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec “officially opened June 17, 1891, as a ‘Free School for the poor children of the Jewish faith and a home for sheltering distressed immigrants and orphans. ‘ ” 15

And the help they received wasn’t always exactly what they needed. Those wealthy Jewish Europeans, including Baron Hirsch and his Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) as well as the Young Men’s Hebrew Benevolent Society (YMHBS) in Montreal that tried to assist these colonists, managed from afar and had no real understanding of the colonists’ woes and needs.16 The YMHBS readily admitted this fault as early as 1892. ” It is impossible for our Society here at a distance of 1,700 miles from the Colony to overlook in a manner satisfactory to ourselves, what is going on there.” 17

So many colonists quickly left for civilization, forming Jewish communities in Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, and other western centers. But a Jewish farming community was built. This is quite a laudable achievement when we consider that only 31% of these farmers had agricultural experience before they arrived in Canada18 where they farmed on dry prairie in one of the earth’s harshest climates.

By 1911 two thousand, five hundred Jews were homesteading in Western Canada. They farmed a total of 128,000 acres with an aggregate value of $1.4 million ( $42 million in today’s values). 19 And even after the drought and economic depression of the 1930s, there were still 1600 Jews farming on the Canadian prairies. 20

Principal Canadian Prairie Jewish Farming Communities with Dates of Founding from John Lehr, Doomed to Failure: The Jewish Farm Colony of Hirsch, Saskatchewan, Manitoba History 89 (2019).

The First Settlement, Moosomin

Snowy fields of Moosomin

In 1882, as soon as Sir Alexander convinced Prime Minister Macdonald to allow Jews to apply for Canadian homesteads, the Mansion Committee sponsored 242 Jewish refugees who crossed the Atlantic to form the first Jewish farming colony in Canada. They remained in Winnipeg until 1884 while the Canadian Government held up the homesteading requests.

Even though the Canadian press was very sympathetic towards the Jewish plight in Russia, “condemning the indignity and brutality inflicted on ‘a peaceful, intelligent and industrious element of the population ‘ ” 21 not everyone in Canada was totally sure if they wanted them in their back yard. So the government vacillated on whether or not to assign homesteads to Jews.22 But, finally, the Mansion Committee was able to purchase several thousand acres to form the Moosomin ,nicknamed “New Jerusalem” colony in southeastern Saskatchewan.

While they waited 150 of the immigrants took jobs building the Canadian Pacific Railroad. “According to the Calgary Herald, of September 14, 1883, 150 Russian Jews joined the CPR construction crews that built the railway as far west as Medicine Hat. At least one Jewish laborer, possibly more, worked on the line through to Calgary. These Jews worked under a Yiddish-speaking foreman, ate kosher food, kept the Sabbath, and even bought a Torah scroll for worship services. [A mobile version of] the Winnipeg-based Cheap Cash Store owned by the Repstein brothers, followed the railhead as it moved west.” 23

A Short-Lived Effort

Long-range management of the Moosomin Colony just didn’t work.

Not all of the original 242 went on to Saskatchewan but 27 families did. Each family received land, cattle, tools, and supplies for three years. And, the colony’s manager was none other than Sir Alexander Galt. But he managed it from London. This might explain, at least partly, why even before the three years were up many of the colonists had abandoned the colony.

Prairie Blizzard

Galt didn’t recognize the pitfalls of long-range management. He blamed the colony’s failure on the “vagabond” Jews. From far-off London, he couldn’t see how the blizzards, the unsuccessful crops, and the Mansion Committee’s request for repayment of their loans beat the colonists down.

Then to add to the woes, in December 1886 “New Jerusalem’s” rabbi suffered frostbite and had to have both his legs amputated. 24, With the rabbi gone so was Jewish education so many families left the colony.

Abandoned sod house Moosomin, 1890. Courtesy Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada

But for three years more, the colony continued its struggle through droughts and diets that consisted only of oatmeal, potatoes, and a little bit of milk. That is until the last straw. In September 1889 a massive fire burned tons of hay and fields. This final disaster brought the remaining colonists “to their knees”25

Scottish Crofters (tenant farmers) heading towards their own homesteads on the Canadian prairies

Galt had been wrong to blame the colony’s failure on the Jews. Seven years after the Jews left a group of experienced Scotch farmers tried their hand at cultivating the same land and they also couldn’t make a go of it.26

The land was just not fertile and the weather was too awful. 27

For more on the Moosomin Colony read Arthur Chiel’s outline of the history on pages 44-47 of his Jews of Manitoba and The New Jerusalem, Jewish Pioneers on the Prairie. by. A.J. Arnold

Wapella

In 1886 another Londoner, Jewish financier and London representative of the Canadian Pacific Railroad Herman Landau,28 enabled the establishment of the first enduring Jewish farming settlement in Canada. It was the Wapella colony, just 16 miles northwest of the Moosomin settlement. 29

Jewish Temporary Shelter, London, courtesy of Philip Walker’s Jewish East End of London website.

Landau had been supporting The Jews Temporary Shelter offering accommodations in London for recently arrived Jewish immigrants. Most wanted to go to America. (Passage from Russia to America was cheaper if you bought a ticket to London and there bought the ticket for the Atlantic journey. But some ran out of money and couldn’t pay for the cross-Atlantic portion.) Frustrated with the slow-moving bureaucracy at the Mansion Committee, Landau decided to try his own hand at developing a successful Jewish farming community. Succeed he did. In Wapella, Jews continued to farm until the 1960s.

Landau selected as his first settlers the John Heppner family and six single men, all of whom knew some English and something about farming, and sent them to Canada. 30

Leonoff, C.E. 31

Then in 1888 Abraham Klenman and his son-in-law Solomon Barish arrived in Montreal. But they didn’t plan to stay there. They were looking to farm on rich black soil like the soil they had worked before crossing the Atlantic. In Eastern Europe Klenman had overseen an agricultural estate and Barish had worked in the Dombroveni Jewish agricultural community in Bessarabia. Klenman heard of Heppner’s settlement and decided to check it out. Sure enough, there was black soil. Other immigrants followed. Between 1888 and 1907 fifty Jewish families settled in Wapella.

The Success

Life was tough. And the weather didn’t help. In 1901 a terrible frost hit the crop threatening the colony’s survival. But with loans from Baron Hirsch Wapella stayed on its feet. By 1911, the village of Wapella had a flour mill and a tannery as well as a dentist and even a Sash and Door Factory. 32 Perhaps as in some Jewish agricultural colonies in the United States, the settlers worked in the factory to augment their agricultural earnings. Then as of 1916 the colony even had a veterinarian. 33

In 1922 Wapella had 550 inhabitants and an electric light plant, a hotel, a baker, a butcher, a bank, and in addition to the dentist, a doctor, and even a Board of Trade. 34 Over the years there was attrition but even in 1939 thirteen Jewish families were still farming 3500 acres. Klenman’s younger son Harry farmed there until his death in 1955 and the Barish family farmed at Wapella until 1962. A few Jewish farmers were even farming in the area as late as 1983. 35

Yechiel Bronfman c. 188936

But those who left begot many successful business people and professionals. Yechiel Bronfman, for example, arrived in Wapella in 1889 and only stayed a few years. But coming to Canada opened up great opportunities for the Bronfman family. Yechiel’s grandson Edgar Bronfman, for example, managed the Seagram Distillery empire, served as president of the World Jewish Congress, and was responsible for getting the Soviet Union to allow Jews to emigrate.

For further information on Wapella, including historical photographs and reports of the colony’s history in the words of its own settlers visit C. E. Leonoff’s Wapella Farm Settlement: a pictorial history

The Hirsch Colony

The Baron Hirsch Funds In Canada ( and the United States) usually assisted individual farmers or communities that were already formed. But the funds were sometimes used to establish new colonies. In fact, the Baron began his activities in Canada with the formation of the Hirsch Colony in Saskatchewan.

Go West Young Man

Museum of Jewish Montreal

It was the Young Men’s Hebrew Benevolent Society YMHBS in Montreal, founded by 30 unmarried Jewish men in 1863 and incorporated in 1881 that brought the Hirsch funding to Canada. They were trying to offer support to the Jewish immigrants arriving in Montreal but had few resources. In 1891 they heard that Baron Hirsch had begun funding immigrant support in the United States. They reached out to the Baron and his Jewish Colonization Association (JCA). They urged the JCA to take advantage of the Canadian Government’s homesteading plan and establish a colonization scheme in western Canada.37

Baron Hirsch and the JCA agreed, with Hirsch supplying $40,000 ( $1.2 million today) to fund start-up loans for each family. 38 So the YMHBS secured homesteading plots near the Estevan coal mines in southern Saskatchewan. The land was thought to be fertile and the mines could provide fuel and employment if the income from farming wasn’t sufficient. And there were Jews nearby. A Jewish farmer named Asher Pierce and other Jewish families had settled in Oxbow only 20 miles away. 39

So on May 2, 1892, ninety- one heads of Jewish families “detrained at Oxbow and founded the Hirsch colony.”40 Each received a loan of $500 ($15,000 in today’s dollars) from the JCA. By the end of 1892, they were settled on 11,040 acres along with 211 horses and 213 heads of cattle. Their families followed once houses were built.41

Not So Easy

In 1894 seventy-one more families arrived but by 1897 only 15 families were left at Hirsch. Why? Principally because after three years of almost no crops, the JCA was asking for full repayment of their loans. So many settlers just left.42

But why such poor crops? Well, for one, it turned out the land was arid and only good for grazing. Then, again, the colony’s manager, The Young Men’s Hebrew Benevolent Society, was located 2000 miles away in Montreal and had no understanding of the realities on the ground. And many of the colonists had no farming experience nor a sense of what was needed in a harsh rural environment. For example, they used precious lumber to build an outhouse and as a result, they had none to build a real house.

In 1897 the Jewish Colonization Association(JCA) sent the director of their agricultural school in Woodbine, New Jersey, Prof. H.L. Sabsovich, to see what could be done and he gave a fairly optimistic report. 43

That same year brought the first good harvest at Hirsch and the managers did try to improve things. They built a community center and a school, set up a temporary synagogue, and hired a shochet (ritual slaughterer for kosher meat). And more settlers came to Hirsch.

In 1905 the JCA officially opened a branch in Canada and took direct control of the Hirsch Colony. One of their first actions was to bring trained farmers to the colony, graduates of the Baron Hirsch Agricultural School in Slobodka Lesna, Galicia, then part of Austro-Hungary. They were to work for farmers at Hirsch for $10 a month($320 in today’s values). But they could make $30-40/month 44 as laborers for the railroad. So many, repeating the survival technique of the Jewish settlers who had helped build the railroad in the 1880s,45 joined up with the Canadian Pacific Railroad. The CPR was Canada’s largest employer at that time. But some of the Slobodka Lesna students did stay at Hirsch. One of them was Israel Hoffer who founded the Sonnenfeld Colony described below.

Just a Memory

Canadian Jewish Archives. PC12-JCA-OC4-60

During the following fifty years, low crop prices, and high costs plagued the colony, but it survived. In 1922 Hirsch had 270 inhabitants and a bank, a hardware store, a blacksmith, an oil tank, a veterinarian, and a surgeon.46 In 1929 a formal synagogue was built. In 1932 it was reported that the Hirsch Colony was cultivating “10,000 acres, had 250 horses and 200 heads of cattle and implements valuing more than $33,000 [$650,000 in today’s values]…. [And crops had] reached 70,000 bushels of wheat, 30,000 bushels of oats, 40,000 bushels of barley, and 10,000 bushels of flax.” 47

But there were problems. The loans the JCA offered were sometimes hard to pay back as remembered by a settler. Then the 1930s drought and depression depopulated the whole Canadian prairie, with Hirsch among the casualties. By the 1950s only four Jewish families lived in the colony. Half the colony’s acreage was rented out to non-Jewish farmers.

For a detailed description of the Hirsch colony’s history and a long list of references see Doomed to Failure: The Jewish Farm Colony of Hirsch, Saskatchewan .

For a discussion of specific families that lived at Hirsch and for the names of the 50 still-marked graves at the Hirsch Cemetery see Hirsch Community Jewish Cemetery.

Pine Lake

Pine Lake, Alberta

Some Jewish farming colonies in Western Canada were formed just by the settlers themselves. That was the case of the short-lived (1892-96) colony at the isolated Pine Lake in Alberta near Red Deer, halfway between Calgary and Edmonton. Many authors have wondered why the settlers chose such an isolated spot away from any other Jews. But Red Deer was one of the places the Canadian Federal Department of Agriculture was proposing to settle Jews48 so they could have suggested this spot to these settlers.

The settlers arrived in 1892 led by Rabbi Abraham Blank. They probably shared an ideological goal as they held all their property in common. In correspondence between the agent at Red Deer and the Canadian Commissioner of Dominion Lands, the land agent notes “the colony was operated on co-operative, or possibly communist principles, and the settlers were loathed to accept money as individuals.” And they chose to live all together rather than each on their own farm. They never built a real settlement nor had a successful crop. The Rabbi lived in a primitive log cabin but the rest of the settlers lived in dugouts and tiny shacks. And they suffered severe poverty.

In those years the Canadian Government helped homesteaders, giving them seeds and other supplies. But the settlers at Pine Lake didn’t receive this assistance because they never filed homesteading claims. Perhaps they didn’t because they wanted to live together and part of the requirements for homesteading was that you lived on your land for at least six months a year. Or perhaps they were scared to call attention to themselves, a group of Jewish settlers, due to the anti-semitism coming out of Alberta’s principal city, Calgary.

On Jan 20 1892 the Calgary Tribune published the editorial “Jewish Immigration.” In the writer’s view, “The Jew, especially the Jew of Eastern Europe, is particularly noted for his inability to adapt himself to any but an urban occupation.“ And here below are anti-semitic comments from page 4 of The Weekly Albertan, July 12, 1893.

In addition, in July 1893 a Calgary Herald editorial repeated the traditional view that Jews were unfit to till the soil. “If these people are the only settlers that can be obtained for the northwest, there would even then be no reason to spend money in bringing them here to let them loose on the public, while practical men who can turn the prairies into fruitful fields are being forced away by the petty annoyances to which they are subjected on attempting to come into the country.”

Help – Starvation Is Upon Us

Retrieved from Switzer, Jack. “The 1893-95 Pine Lake Jewish Colony – A Dream Dies,”49

But, in desperation in 1894 Rabbi Blank did write to the Dominion Land Agent begging for help.

When the land agent sent the Rabbi’s letter off to his superior the agent didn’t try to ensure a positive response. Instead, he wrote about the Jewish group,

Altogether they are most undesirable immigrants, being miserably poor and knowing absolutely nothing about farming. Then again the white settlers in the locality object strongly to  them as neighbors and are dreading a fur­ther incursion.”

Read the whole report here

But the Canadians did forward the letter to the Russo-Jewish Committee (the new name of the Mansion Committee) in London. As a result, the Pine Lake settlers received $400 ($13,000 in today’s dollars) from this British group. 50 But it wasn’t enough. By 1896 all the settlers were gone, some to the Hirsch community and some to the United States.

Today there is a Jewish Camp near the settlement site. You can find a nice article on Pine Lake with photos here. 51

Lipton

In 1901 the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) decided to sponsor another Canadian settlement in Saskatchewan. This time they chose land about 150 miles north of Hirsch in Lipton 30 miles from Qu’Appelle. Qu’Appelle was the home of the nearest train station and the first Jewish settler in Northwest Canada, Max Goldstein. Max was a Russian tailor who opened a store in Qu’Appelle in 1877.

The Lipton colony was established in cooperation with the Canadian Ministry of the Interior. So even though the JCA paid for the Lipton settlers’ Atlantic passages and provided them with supplies for the first year, it was a Canadian immigration official who traveled to Romania, another site of anti-semitic horrors, 52 to select the first two groups of settlers, totaling 365 souls. 53

Like the folks in Pine Hill, the Lipton settlers wanted to live together but they were a little cagier. Since to receive a homestead they had to live on the 160-acre plot, four families would coordinate and live on the corners of their plots. That way they were actually next-door neighbors; at times they even shared a house.54

The first years were tough. The settlers were really isolated. Not only was there no train; there were no roads. Then, immediately upon arrival, the first group was stricken with diphtheria.55

Help from Much Earlier Settlers

Saskatchewan Metis women, 1890s, like those who helped the Jewish settlers.56

That they didn’t all die or leave immediately is thought to be due in part to the help they received from the local indigenous people. These were Nehiyawak (Cree) or Metis (descendants of Cree women and European fur traders). 57 As the JCA’s Director of Settlements wrote in 1939, when the first Lipton settlers arrived in 1901, “under the guidance of Indian half-breeds from the nearby Indian Reservations they learned how to erect log houses chinked with clay and roofed with sods, plowed up a few acres each for potatoes and proceeded to put up some hay.” 58

But, the indigenous help wasn’t enough. The land was dry and the growing season was extremely short. The supervisors, appointed by the Canadian government were local non-Jewish farmers who couldn’t speak the same language as the settlers. And they thought the “entire scheme … a costly joke doomed to failure”. 59

Then there was snow from mid-October to late May. Crops were very disappointing and even selling the little that was produced was a chore. Lipton was 30 miles from the nearest train station, a two-day trip. By the winter of 1903 half of the settlers had left.60. In this letter, we see that the complaints of some of these departing settlers reached the headquarters of the JCA 61 and a new manager, Louis Kahn, was sent out.

The Train, Kosher Meat, and Folks Who Knew How to Farm

Now, We’re Talking

With Kahn, things started to change. In 1904 a shochet (ritual slaughterer )/Hebrew teacher arrived and three schools were built. Before his arrival, the settlers ate no meat. And by the end of that year, 13,480 acres had been cultivated.62 Then in 1905, a group of Russian Jews arrived. They were from southern Ukraine, where some of them had grown up in Jewish farming colonies. That same year the JCA offered new loans.

Lipton Railroad Station, 1907. Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan

Next, in 1906, a wonder arrived, Lipton’s own train station. 63 And the following year a British journalist reported that “the Jewish farmers about Lipton…are doing very well…and raised over 40,000 bushels of grain ….” 64.

The colony’s situation did improve, but relations with the JCA remained tense. (Louis Kahn only remained at Lipton for two years. ) In 1912 a settler lamented “if the JCA and Baron de Hirsch executives would come to see Lipton with their own eyes, they would gain better understanding of the achievements.”  65

The Canadian government ran the public schools in Lipton. They were also used as synagogues until the Canadian government prohibited their use for religious purposes in 1935. Education in Judaism was considered essential in Lipton. So Jewish studies were taught for two hours a day after schools closed at 3:30 pm. The teacher was hired with funds subsidized by the JCA. 66

Still, the Cities Called

Toba Cohen, Lipton Colony, 1916, Louis Rosenberg fonds. Library and Archives Canada, C-027462

But life was difficult. Besides the starkness of the environment, there was isolation, and limited educational opportunities for children, which along with price drops and droughts drove quite a few away. Many of them formed the backbone of Jewish communities throughout Western Canada. William Landa, for example, who first arrived in Canada in 1904 as a homesteader in Lipton, is considered to be the first Jewish settler in Saskatoon, now Saskatchewan’s largest city. 67.

Most of the original 400 Rumanian colonists left within a few years. In 1911, after the advent of the Russian settlers, there were 80 homesteads, but only 49 in 1917. By 1933 there were 21, by 1941 only 18 and just a few Jewish farmers remained until the late 1960s.68

Today you can still visit the Lipton Jewish Cemetery, active 1901-1951, and see the unique grave houses. Poet Isa Milman has shown that these grave houses are evidence of the contacts between the Jewish settlers and their indigenous neighbors. As can be seen in the pictures below, the grave houses the Jews used were a traditional Cree custom. This explains the content of an old newspaper clipping that Millman found in a shed in the Jewish cemetery. The article explained that the grave houses were a means ” to preserve loved ones from the ravages of wild animals and spirits.”

Graves in Lipton Jewish Cemetery, 1916 by Louis Rosenberg. Library and Archives Canada/C-027591.
Indigenous woman beside graves in Fort Qu’Appelle Cemetery, 1885. B O.B. Buell. Library and Archives Canada/ PA-118766

Bender Hamlet

As already noted, the Canadian authorities wanted immigrants to follow North American customs. Each farmer was to live on his land, miles from his neighbor. This requirement was one reason many Jewish immigrants didn’t consider homesteading. They were used to living in villages. In villages, it was easy to form a minion ( the ten men quota needed for religious services to be held) and short distances, in those pre-refrigeration times, allowed for the safe distribution of kosher meat.

The Count Witte Commercial Academy in Nikolaev By SNCH – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0. Count Witte was the Russian finance minister from 1892-1903 and a keen supporter of pro-Jewish policies. He had a Jewish wife and supported the establishment of Commercial Schools throughout Russia. And Witte was a distant cousin by marriage of a founder of the Jewish village of Fleischmanns in the NY Catskill mountains. Read Witte’s memoirs

Jacob Bender, an immigrant from a prosperous Jewish community in Nikolaev, (also spelled Mykolaiv) in today’s southern Ukraine managed to find a way around this problem. Perhaps he used the business education he could have gained at the Count Witte Commercial Academy in Nikolaev. (This was a secular school founded by Jewish tradesmen to circumvent quotas for Jewish students. It was the school where the renowned Russian-Jewish writer, Isaac Babel began his formal education.)

Location of Bender Hamlet

In February 1902 Bender decided to spend the $10 ($335 in today’s dollars) needed to buy the 160 acres of a homestead in the Inter-lake region of Manitoba, 70 miles north of Winnipeg. He believed he could obtain Canadian government approval to subdivide it into 19 parcels. These he would sell to Russian Jewish families.

Jewish farmhouses in Bender Hamlet, Manitoba by Louis Rosenberg, 1921. Wikimedia Commons

At the top of each parcel, a house would be built, effectively constructing a village street. Once the land was bought Bender returned to Russia to recruit purchasers. He stopped off in England where he also found some willing participants.

The Colony Takes Shape

These immigrants started arriving in 1903. In July 1904 subdivision permission was granted.69 Not all the families came directly from Europe. A few came out from Winnipeg and one family came from Boston. 70 More families followed and some families left. By 1923 there were 27. 71

Immigrants arriving at Bender Hamlet. Courtesy of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada

All of the original 19 families bought an additional homestead as did the families that followed them. 72. Some of the new families homesteaded outside the village itself. But all were within fairly close proximity to Bender Hamlet where the synagogue, Hebrew school, and mikveh (ritual bath) were located. Some settled near the village of Narcisse, the site of the area’s railroad station. Narcisse was named in honor of Narcisse Leven, the then-president of the Baron Hirsch-funded Jewish Colonization Association.

The colonists were so keen on building a village that they spent much of their money on the houses, leaving very little for stock and plows. That’s probably why in 1907 Bender contacted the Baron Hirsch Institute in Montreal. 73 According to a former settler, Baron Hirsch did give the Bender Hamlet farmers low-interest loans that they easily repaid. 74

They Never Quite Made It

Richtik, J. and Hutch, D. When Jewish Settlers Farmed in Manitoba’s Interlake Area, Canadian Geographical Journal, 95(1), 1977, p. 35

Bender Hamlet limped along; the colonists never cultivated more than 18% of the land they owned. 75 Perhaps they depended on other ways to earn money. For example, after the railroad arrived in 1914, they planned to set up a cheese & creamery co-op and ship dairy products to Winnipeg but it burned down before it could open.

Bender Hamlet Historic Marker

But they were able to sell wood to Winnipeg, and perhaps they shipped eggs to the city as well. I say that because in the years 1914 to 1923 as shown in the chart above, the approximate average percentage of acres farmed grew only 12% each year and as late as 1923 only 19% of the land owned by the settlers was cultivated. On the other hand, in the 1914-1923 period the number of chickens in the settlement grew by an average of 26% each year.

But then falling prices, crop failures, and suicide all took their toll. By the late 1920s, most of the settlers had left Bender Hamlet and the last family left in 1932. 76. But let’s put this failure in perspective. The hardships did not just affect the Jews. During the same years, nearby Ukrainian and Scandinavian farmers also left the land. 77

Today the area is famous for its natural snake pits as you can see in this video. As the New York Times explains ” The area… is so attractive to snakes for the same reasons many farmers abandoned it decades ago: Its thin topsoil sits on top of limestone that water has gradually eroded underground….”

Edenbridge

The star shows the location of Edenbridge.

In 1906 eight Jewish families from Lithuania left their first emigration destination, South Africa, to travel all the way to Western Canada. They had heard that in Canada 160 acres could be had for only $10 ($335 in today’s values). Even though they were mostly Talmudic students and tradesmen they dreamed of becoming farmers.

After the dry veld of South Africa, they wanted water and trees. So they traveled north of the Canadian prairies to a thickly wooded area with abundant water. There they chose their homesteads along the banks of Saskatchewan’s Carrot River.

They came from the Dry Veld in South Africa to the Wooded and Watered Carrot River Region in Saskatchewan
Building a log cabin, Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan

There was plenty of water, the soil was fertile and luck was with them. Two friendly English homesteaders taught the Jewish families how to build log cabins, solving an immediate problem. Although, for many months all the families slept together in just one cabin they called the hotel while the others were built. Unfortunately for various members of the group the ceilings were only five feet high, as the owners of that cabin were quite short. 78

The Jewish Bridge built by the settlers at Edenbridge. Courtesy of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada

And there were jobs for immediate financial needs, working on farms and building roads. In fact, in 1907, when the Canadian government decided to build a bridge across the Carrot River, the effort was almost entirely manned by the Jewish settlers. This circumstance proved to have an important legacy. For in 1908 after Jews from New York’s Lower East Side and London’s East End and others had joined the Lithuanians, the government decided the population was large enough to establish a post office ( in a shack also built by the settlers). The Jews suggested Yid’n Bridge as the place name, using the Yiddish word for Jewish. This was too exotic for the Canadian government. So the Jews looked through the names of other post offices and found the word, Eden. Sounds close to Yid’n they thought and sounded sufficiently English for the government. Hence the name: Edenbridge.

A Synagogue and A Rabbi !

Beth Israel Synagogue, Edenbridge

1908 not only brought a post office. It also saw the inauguration of the settlement’s synagogue, Beth Israel.It was built in the Carpenter Gothic style like many rural North American houses of worship. Beth Israel is the oldest surviving synagogue in Saskatchewan. Services were conducted for 56 years until 1964. The synagogue is now a historical heritage site cared for by the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation.

Beth Israel had a lively life complete with Jewish education in both Yiddish and Hebrew. Answering an ad the settlers placed in the Winnipeg Jewish weekly, Beth Israel’s first rabbi, Mordecai, or Max, Shalit arrived from London, England just after the synagogue’s birth. Shalit truly believed in the future of Edenbridge. He even farmed his own homestead. 79

The Israelite Press, Winnipeg, Jan. 5, 1917, Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada

Max was also a gifted writer, publishing in Jewish newspapers in Winnipeg and composing multiple letters for nearby Ukrainian farmers. His home became the social center of the colony, especially after he built a second room, something not yet seen in Edenbridge. Max also frequently housed recently arrived settlers. As described by Max, Edenbridge in the early years ” consisted of old country orthodox, New York socialists, shoemakers atheists, and ordinary energetic young fellows. But they were all united by the idea of building a home for themselves and it mattered little to them who was what.80.

Jewish East End London, c. 1900

Wanting even more settlers to enjoy the benefits of Canadian homesteading, Max placed this ad in a London paper. “Flee my friends from the London fogs and the chaos that eats your hearts… and the bosses that live off your blood, sweat, and tears. Flee from the two-faced society where politicians don’t say what they think and don’t think what they say. Come to Edenbridge. Come where the air is fresh… Come and help us tame this wild land. Come help us settle our colony… we need you. Come, please! You will not regret it.”  81.

Success !

Partial list of Jewish Colonization Association Loans, 1911, Canadian Jewish Heritage Network

Edenbridge was so successful that by 1912 there were 89 families farming 19,500 acres. 82 From the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network, we can see that after a few years, Baron Hirsch’s Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) supported these settlers with loans. They began with loans of hundreds of dollars and by the 1930s the loans averaged $1-2,000, approximately $15-30,000 in today’s values.

Twenty-fifth Edenbridge Jubilee, 1931. Library and Archives Canada

By the early 1930s, the colony’s annual output reached 70,000 bushels of wheat, 20,000 bushels of oats, 700 bushels of barley, and 2,000 bushels of flax. 83

Northern Saskatchewan field of wheat.

As one grateful Edenbridge farmer wrote to the JCA

I sit upon my plough and my eye is enchanted with the sight of brown earth being turned upwards furrow by furrow. How beautiful are the fields afterwards when they become green. This draws you and draws you and makes you willing to root out forests, turn over fields, even drink the sweat that pours from your forehead and be satisfied.” 84

The Edenbridge community supported many stores, and schools 85 And with help from Baron Hirsch’s Jewish Colonization Association, in 1910 the settlers formed the Edenbridge Jewish Co-operative, Saskatchewan’s first credit union. Rabbi Max Shalit was the treasurer. 86

Picnic at Edenbridge Colony, Louis Rosenberg, Library and Archives Canada / C-027464

The JCA also helped Edenbridge build a library/community hall. There theatrical events and discussions led by the colony’s debating club were held. Social events abounded. The Edenbridge colonists were “people who were prepared to work all day and debate and study all night.” 87

Although Jews no longer farm at Edenbridge, the colony is warmly remembered for the number of mayors, justices of the peace, writers, merchants, teachers, and town council and legislative members it produced.88

Sonnenfeld

Reb Moshe Hoffer, Courtesy of Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada

In June of 1907 twenty-year-old Israel Hoffer with his father, Reb Moshe set out from the Hirsch colony to their homestead 50 miles west. It was right at the border of the ‘badlands’, a challenge Israel welcomed. The Hoffers became the first settlers in a new colony, to be named Sonnenfeld after the director of the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA), Sigismund Sonnenfeld. (In the 1890s another Jewish farming colony in far-off Argentina, was also named for Sonnenfeld by the Jews that Baron Hirsch helped to settle there. )

Israel Hoffer was born in Kosov, Galicia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and now part of western Ukraine. He graduated from the Baron Hirsch-funded Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) agricultural school at Slobodka-Lesna in Eastern Galicia. Israel had arrived in Canada in 1905, at age 18. He spent his first year and a half in this new land working for farmers in Hirsch.

The official granting of full land ownership to Louis Gelman who was one of the first first to file for a homestead in Sonnenfeld.

The first settlers at Sonnenfeld included three other Slobodka-Lesna graduates, Philip Berger, Maer Feldman, and Max Feuer. That first summer of 1907 they slept under grain wagons, their only shelter. 89 Israel’s brother Mayer joined them a year later.

To supplement their incomes they worked part-time for a nearby American farmer. Luckily this farmer knew how to recognize a prairie fire when it was approaching. On a fateful day he quickly sent the Hoffers home so they were able to save most of their crop from a mighty blaze. 90

Other settlers continued to arrive at Sonnenfeld. Within two years there were 25 Jewish farms in the area. 91

Sonnenfeld Prospers

In 1912, with financial help from the JCA,92 the Sonnenfeld settlers built the Beth Jacob synagogue, complete with living space for the rabbi and his family.93 The JCA helped to support the rabbi for many years. 94

Sonnenfeld Colony Picnic 1926. Louis Rosenberg, Canada Library and Archives Item 3726487

By 1927 Sonnenfeld had two grain elevators with a total capacity of 65,000 bushels. 95

Then, after the JCA brought in another group of immigrants, including six families from Turkey, the colony reached a peak of 45 families in 1930. As related by Israel Hoffer, the land turned out to be fertile, and with help from JCA loans the colony prospered.96

But the first years were tough. There were leaky shacks and two-day journeys to bring the crops to the nearest train station at Estevan. By 1919 the farmers in the area, Jews and non-Jews, had had enough of those journeys. So they paid for Mayer Hoffer to go to Ottawa to lobby for a nearby train hook-up. It took a while but finally, in 1925 the train reached Sonnenfeld. The new station was named Hoffer after Israel. He deserved the honor. He was the area’s first justice of the peace (1911) and later served as a council member of the greater municipal government for 13 years. 97

Museum of the Jewish People, Tel Aviv, The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsots,
courtesy of Meir Kuzriel, Jerusalem

In the 1930s the droughts drove many of the colony’s farmers away. But those that stayed enjoyed bumper crops and high prices during World War II. 98

In 1951 the JCA was still settling new families at Sonnenfeld which that year was home to 60 Jews who enjoyed an active synagogue and Jewish school. 99

Want to learn more? Land of Hope, by Israel’s wife, Clara, is a book-long account of the Sonnenfeld Colony’s history. Shorter accounts, as told by Israel, were published in the Winter, 1952 ( Vol. 5, #1 ) edition of Saskatchewan History and the Nov. 27, 1975 edition of The Western Jewish News, on pages 12-15. Here you can see a drone-supplied view of the Sonnenfeld region today and listen to another short history.

Montefiore Colony

JCA 1915 Report on Montefiore Colony, The Canadian Jewish Heritage Network I0032; KC; MA 1-KC-90

In 1910 M.F. “Bill” Manolson and Louis Schacter founded the Montefiore Colony near Sibbald in southeastern Alberta, about 200 miles east of Calgary. By 1915 there were 26 Jewish farmers at Montefiore. They farmed grain and raised cattle. Some came with previous farming experience gained in nearby North Dakota or Montana. The JCA assisted with advice and loans. The JCA also helped them form a credit union.

The Montefiore Institute, 1925,
Provincial Archives of Alberta #77.258/73

In 1913 the settlers built a 900 sq ft synagogue, The Montefiore Institute, with 12-foot high walls. It had moveable seats so the building could also be used as a social hall for both Jews and non-Jews. There were even dances, as well as a cheder (Jewish elementary school). And, when influenza hit, the synagogue became an isolation hospital. 100 The synagogue also housed a 1000-volume library. And there was a Rabbi who lived in a two-room building behind the synagogue. Services attracted Jews from other colonies and from towns in the area.

The synagogue’s construction cost $1500 ($45,000 in today’s dollars); the JCA lent $300 ($9000 today) and the settlers contributed the rest.101

Montefiore Colony home of settler, Sam Ullman, photo taken between 1910 and 1915102

The Colony’s population peaked at 77 in 1920. But things went sharply downhill pretty soon thereafter. Post-WWI farm price drops and droughts drove many to just abandon their homesteads.

The Legacy

Montefiore Club Meeting, California, 1934 103

Some settlers moved to Petaluma, California where they chicken farmed. (Rent or buy a video on the Petaluma experience here.)

Others who went to the Los Angeles area even formed a Montefiore Club. By 1940 only 7 of the families were left in the Montefiore Colony. The last farmer left in 1951. 104

Although not much is left of the Montefiore Colony, its physical history is not lost. Today the original Montefiore Institute synagogue, now restored, can be visited in Calgary’s Heritage Park. It had been sold for $200 in 1937 ($4,000 in today’s values) to become a family home in Hannah, Alberta. That is until it was found by the Little Synagogue on the Prairie Project Society. The Society raised the funds for the restoration as reported here in the Jerusalem Post. Here is a video on the whole project.

Other Canadian Jewish Farmers

Principal Canadian Prairie Jewish Farming Communities with Dates of Founding from John Lehr, Doomed to Failure: The Jewish Farm Colony of Hirsch, Saskatchewan, Manitoba History 89 (2019).

This post doesn’t pretend to describe all of the Jewish farming colonies in Canada. In this map, you can see the principal colonies in the prairie provinces. For the history of the Rumsey/Trochu Colony in Alberta click here. There were also colonies and individual Jewish farmers in Quebec and Ontario. Lists of other Jewish agricultural locations in the West as well as the East can be found here, and here. Enjoy!!!

Acknowledgments

In addition to Mark Gardner who sent me Clara Hoffer’s Land of Hope which inspired this Post, I want to thank Sarah Benson of the University of Saskatchewan, Abi Haywood of Canadian Geographic, Bill Mackay of the Central Alberta Historical Society, Belle Jarniewski and Andrew Morrison of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada and Janice Rosen, of the Canadian Jewish Archives, for all their assistance in finding and lending texts, photos, and sources. I also want to send so many thanks to everyone else who has digitized the history of Canadian Jews. Mazel Tov. You have made an amazing contribution to historical research.


  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  []
  9. Leonoff, Cyril Edel, (1983) “Early Jewish Agricultural Colonization in Saskatchewan,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 36, No. 2, Spring, 1ec. []
  10. IMMIGRATION, Evidence of A.M. Burgess, Esq., Deputy Minister of the Interior before the Select Committee of the House of Commons of Canada on AGRICULTURE and COLONIZATION, Session 1896, p. 6 []
  11. Gutkin, Harry (1980) Journey Into Our Heritage, the Story of the Jewish People in the Canadian West. Toronto: Lester&Orpen Dennys Limited, p. 31 []
  12. Ibid., p. 30 []
  13. Arnold, A.J. “Jewish Pioneer Settlements,” The Beaver, Autumn, 1975, p. 20 []
  14. for a description of settling Saskatchewan in the late 19th Century see Turner, Allan R. “Pioneer Farming Experiences,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 8, No. 2, Spring, 1955, pp. 41-55. []
  15. Gutkin (1980), p. 198. []
  16. see long excerpt from Roy & Diniz, ” Jewish Farm Settlements and the Jewish Colonization Association in Western Canada,” Twentieth Century Land Settlement Schemes, Routledge, 2020. at link click on chapter 4 in the table of contents []
  17. Rasporich, Anthony W. ” Early Twentieth-Century Jewish Farm Settlements in Saskatchewan: A Utopian Perspective, ” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 42, No. 1, p. 29. []
  18. FRIEDGUT, T. H., p. 397 []
  19. Robinson, Leonard G. ” Agricultural Activities of the Jews in America,”  The American Jewish Year Book 14 (1912): p. 54. []
  20. Rosenberg, (1939), p. 217. archive.net ; To use archive.net you need to establish a free account. []
  21. Manitoba Free Press, Winnipeg, quoted in Gutkin, Harry (1980) pp. 27-28. []
  22. For an account of the Canadian Government’s vacillations see Arnold, A. J. The Earliest Jews in Winnipeg, The Beaver, Autumn, 1974, pp. 4 – 8 []
  23. Jews of Alberta..” The Free Library. 1999 Historical Society of Alberta   []
  24. Chiel, Arthur (1961) Agricultural Attempts, The Jews of Manitoba The University of Toronto Press, 1961, p. 46. []
  25. ibid. []
  26. Kent, Stuart. “Scottish Crofter Colony, Saltcoat, 1889-1904,” Saskatchewan History, vol. 24,no. 2, Spring, 1971, pp. 41-50. []
  27. Rosenberg, Louis, 1939 p 218. archive.net To use archive.net you need to establish a free account.   []
  28. Leonoff, (1983) vol 36, No. 2, p. 60 []
  29. For a detailed history of Wapella see Leonoff, Cyril Edel, (1983) “Early Jewish Agricultural Colonization in Saskatchewan,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 36, No. 2, Spring, 1983, pp. 58-68. []
  30. Leonoff, (1983) vol 36, No. 2, p. 59 []
  31. The Architecture of Jewish Settlement in the Prairies, p. 21. A paper presented to the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada First Annual Meeting, Ethnic Architecture in the Prairies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, June 6, 1975. []
  32. Manufacturing and Business Opportunities in Western Canada Along the Lines of the Canadian Pacific Railway, 1912, pp. 24-27. []
  33. The Canadian Pacific Railway, Alberta. A handbook of information regarding business and industrial opportunities in Western Canada: 1916, p. 38. []
  34. Business and industrial opportunities in western Canada, Canadian Pacific Railway Company, Department of Colonization and Development, Industrial Branch, 1922, p 72. []
  35. Leonoff, (1983) vol 36, No. 2, p. 68 []
  36. Courtesy of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada []
  37. Kennee Switzer-Rakos, Baron de Hirsch, The Jewish Colonization Association and Canada, The Leo Baeck Institute Year Book, Volume 32, Issue 1, January 1987. This article can be downloaded at this link by clicking on the lower left pdf 1.79MB. The quote is on page 16 of the pdf (399 of the journal) []
  38. Simon Belkin, “Jewish Colonization in Canada,” in Arthur Daniel Hart, ed., The Jew in Canada (Toronto and Montreal, 1926), p. 485.  ( p. 505 on the digital version.) []
  39. See Arthur, Chiel, pp. 52-53 for more on Asher Pierce. []
  40. Arthur, Chiel p. 53. []
  41. Kennee Switzer-Rakos p. 17 of pdf, p.400 of the journal. This article can be downloaded at this link by clicking on the lower left pdf 1.79MB. Also see Manitoba and the North-West Territories: Being a report by Mr. P.R. Ritchie of Essex, England, of a tour extending from April to September 1892. Ottawa: Printed by S.E. Dawson, Queen’s Printer, 1892., pp. 29-30. []
  42. Robinson, Leonard G. p. 50. []
  43. Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada (hereafter JHCWC), Box 154 File 6, H. L. Sabsovich, Woodbine, “Hirsch Colony,” report to Dr. Julius Goldman, New York City, 12 August 1897 []
  44. Mackinnon, Mary. “New Evidence on Canadian Wage Rates, 1900-1930.” The Canadian Journal of Economics / Revue Canadienne d’Economique 29, no. 1 (1996): p.118. []
  45. Gutkin (1980), pp. 45 – 46 []
  46. Business and industrial opportunities in western Canada, 1922, p. 38. []
  47. Rosenberg, Louis, (1932) “Jews in Agriculture in Western Canada,” The 100th-anniversary souvenir of Jewish emancipation in Canada (1832-1932) and the 50th anniversary of the Jew in the West Winnipeg: Israelite Daily Press, 1932, p. 55 []
  48. FRIEDGUT, T. H. (2007), p. 389 []
  49. The Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta Newsletter, Spring, 1994 from the collection of the Canadian Jewish Archives []
  50. The Russo-Jewish Committee Report, January – December 1895, p. 12 []
  51. Dawe, Michael, “Blank’s Lake Jewish Colony,” In Heritage/Yerusha Volume 11, No. 3, Summer 2009, pp. 8 -11, published by The Jewish Archives and Historical Society of Edmonton and Northern Alberta. []
  52. Kennee Switzer-Rakos p. 18-19 of pdf, p.401-402 of the journal. This article can be downloaded at this link by clicking on the lower left on pdf 1.79MB []
  53. FRIEDGUT, T. H. (2007), pp. 391 & 395 []
  54. FRIEDGUT, T. H. (2007), p. 392. []
  55. Archer, Part Two, p. 4. []
  56. Three generations of the Desjarlais family, Lebret, late 1890s. Left to right: Magdeleine Klyne; Marie Justine and Rosine Desjarlais; Magdeleine Desjarlais.
    Saskatchewan Archives Board R-A8823 []
  57. See discussion of this help in Benson, Sarah, “…taken in hand by Indians”: Jewish-Indigenous Relations in the Qu’Appelle Valley, unpublished thesis introduction, Saskatoon: the University of Saskatchewan, April 2022, p. 1 []
  58. Rosenberg (1939) p. 221 available at archive.net. To use archive.net you need to establish a free account. []
  59. Ibid. []
  60. FRIEDGUT, T. H. (2007), p. 395 []
  61. American Jewish Historical Society  Records of the Industrial Removal Office (I-91)  Series VIII: IRO and Jewish Colonization Association (Correspondence, Box 86 1901-1921) []
  62. Kennee Switzer-Rakos p. 19-20 of pdf, p.402-403 of the journal. This article can be downloaded at this link by clicking on the lower left pdf 1.79MB. []
  63. FRIEDGUT, T. H. (2007), pp. 394 & 397. []
  64. Kennedy, Howard Angus, New Canada and The New Canadians, London: Horace Marshall & Son, 1907, p. 144. []
  65. FRIEDGUT, T. H. (2007), p. 401. []
  66. Ibid., p. 399. []
  67. Field, Arthur Jordan, The Saskatchewan Jewish Community, 1905 – 1963, Agudas Israel Dedication Volume, 1905 – 1963, Saskatoon: 1963, p. 39 []
  68. FRIEDGUT, T. H. (2007), pp 403-404. []
  69. Swamp lands Manitoba to be transferred to the Province to be sold to Jacob Bender, Chief of the Jewish Colony – Min. Int. [Minister of the Interior], 1905/02/17; p. 1. Libraries and Archives Canada. []
  70. Richtik, J. and Hutch, D. When Jewish Settlers Farmed in Manitoba’s Interlake Area, Canadian Geographical Journal, 95(1), 1977, p. 34. []
  71. Ibid. p. 35 []
  72. Ibid., p. 34 []
  73. Lehr, John C., Doomed to Failure: The Jewish Farm Colony of Hirsch, Saskatchewan, Manitoba History, No. 89, Spring, 2019, footnote 35. []
  74. Sisler, WJ. Bender Hamlet, a Community Enterprise that Failed, The Jewish Post (Winnipeg) Vol. XLII ,No. 9, March 3, 1966, p. 14. []
  75. Richtik & Hutch, p.35 []
  76. ibid. []
  77. Chiel, Arthur, p. 56. []
  78. Rosenberg, Louis (ed.), Zimbale to Edenbridge (at link scroll down to pp. 2 & 4), The Autobiography of Samuel Vickar, a pioneer Jewish farmer in Canada, Part III, Congress Bulletin, Canadian Jewish Congress, Montreal, March 1966 (Vol. 22, No. 3) pp. 2 and 4. []
  79. for more on Max Shalit see this excerpt from Image of Joy, by Lawrence S. Freund, Xlibris Corp ( 2001) pp. 122-29 []
  80. Freund, ibid. pp. 125-126. []
  81. Gordon, Gita, Building a Bridge to Eden, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 10, 2008. []
  82. Robinson, Leonard G. (1912) p. 52. []
  83. Rosenberg, Louis (1932) p. 57. []
  84. Greeting From the Hon. R Weir, Minister of Agriculture, Canada, The 100th-anniversary souvenir of Jewish emancipation in Canada (1832-1932) and the 50th anniversary of the Jew in the West,  Winnipeg: Israelite Daily Press, 1932, p. 41. []
  85. Jewish Settlement gone, but not forgotten, Winnipeg Free Press, August 5, 1975. []
  86. Shear-Hair, Yrachmeil, A Saga of the Northwest, The Jewish Post (Winnipeg) March 3, 1966, pp. 14 – 15 To read the rest of this article click on the following page links p. 23. and. pp. 24-25 []
  87. Abella, Irving (1999), A Coat of Many Colors, Two Centuries of Jewish Life in Canada,Toronto: Key Porter Books, pp. 97-98. []
  88. Ibid. p. 98 []
  89. Hoffer, Fannie. “Pioneers of the Plains, A Saga of the Jewish Farming Colony of Sonnenfeld,” The Jewish Post (Winnipeg) April 6, 1944, page 10. To read the rest of this article click on page 27 . []
  90. Ibid., []
  91. Anna Feldman. Sonnenfeld – Elements of Survival and Success of a Jewish Farming Community on the Prairies 1905-1939 Canadian Jewish Historical Society Journal, Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring, 1982, pages 33 – 53 []
  92. Hoffer, Fannie (1944), p. 27, to read the rest of this article click here []
  93. Radford, Evan, Poverty and the past on the Prairies: Farmer recounts early days of Jewish settlements, Regina Leader-Post July 17-28, 2020 []
  94. Hoffer, Israel, Reminsecenes,Saskatchewan History , Winter, 1952 (Vol 5, No. 1) p. 32 []
  95. Department of Trade and Commerce, Canada, LIST OF LICENSED ELEVATORS AND WAREHOUSES IN THE WESTERN GRAIN INSPECTION DIVISION LICENSE YEAR 1926-27, p. 57. []
  96. The Western Jewish News, Nov. 27, 1975, pages 12-15. []
  97. Hoffer ( Winter, 1952). []
  98. Hoffer, Fannie (1944), p. 27 to read the rest of this article click here []
  99. Remembrances of Abe Silverman, May 25, 2020, B’nai Brith Canada Facebook Page. []
  100. Communities in Canada, Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta []
  101. Switzer, Jack. The Little Synagogue on the Prairie, Discovery: The Journal of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta” Volume 12, No. 2 – June 2002, reprinted in THE LITTLE SYNAGOGUE on the PRAIRIE Preliminary Proposal, June 2006, pp. 5-8. provided the information included in the first three paragraphs of this section. []
  102. Jewish Archives and Historical Society of Edmonton and Northern Alberta, JHSE jhse-123-is-jhse-836 []
  103. Jewish Archives and Historical Society of Edmonton and Northern Alberta, JHSE jhse 853 []
  104. Switzer, 2002 []

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