St. John's Ward, popularly known as "the Ward", was an area in Toronto bounded by Queen Street to the south, Yonge Street to the east, College Street to the north, and University Avenue to the west. The Ward was considered to be one of the poorest and unhealthiest areas in the city.
By the turn of the 20th Century, the majority of the Ward's inhabitants were Eastern European Jewish immigrants, who took up residence in the small stuccoed frame cottages dating from the 1850s and 1860s. Initially, settlers chose the Ward because of the need for inexpensive accomodations close to the central business district where employment was available. However, later Jewish immigrants also settled in the Ward because previous settlers had reconstructed the amenities and the security of the shtetl.
By 1911, the Ward was a self-contained community of Jewish services and facilities, supporting education, religious, social and business institutions. But with the influx to the area came a higher demand for housing and as a result, rents increased, congestion became alarmingly high and living conditions deteriorated. Many cottages housed three or four families, plus a workshop, in fewer than five rooms with no plumbing or drainage.
By the onset of the First World War, civic and business development began encroaching on the residential area of the Ward and many Jewish residents began the move westward into the Kensington Market area. The war also brought with it greater opportunities for the small merchant and salvage trades and as the economic conditions of the immigrant improved, the confidence and expectations of the younger generation increased. By the end of the war, only a few Jewish residents remained in the Ward.
There is no information on the source or the acquisition of the images. The slides were probably used as part of a study and presentation on the conditions of the Ward and its immigrant inhabitants.
Scope and Content
This fonds consists of 15 images depicting Jewish life in the Ward and Jewish religious practices during Rosh Hashana. The 15 glass slides are the original images, while the 26 slides and 1 negative are copies that were probably made for presentation purposes.
There are several images of Jewish children of the Ward, including one of Jewish newsboys, as well as two images of Jewish businesses, one streetscape and a typical St. John's Ward home. There are also several images depicting men and women engaged in the tradition/custom of Tashlich at theToronto waterfront on the first day of Rosh Hashana.
Speisman, Steven. St. John's Shtetl: the Ward in 1911.
11 photographs : col. and b&w ; 28 x 36 cm or smaller
4 lantern slides : col. (hand painted) ; 5 x 8 cm
Larry Becker (1939-1998) was a collector with a focus on his native Toronto. He grew up in central Toronto, near Dundas and Ossington, where his father ran a cigar store. Around 1948, the family moved north to Vaughan. Larry attended Lakeshore Teachers' College and married fellow teacher, Rose Weber, in 1961. He taught primary school in Welland, Ontario
Larry returned to Toronto in June 1965, and began collecting for profit and posterity. That year, with the active assistance of his wife Rose, opened the first of three businesses that sold collectables. Both his father and grandfather had been small-scale collectors. From 1965 to 1996, the growing Becker family lived at 25 Lesgay Crescent in North York. In December 1996, the Beckers moved to a larger place in the Kettleby countryside, where Larry had planned to retire and work on his collection
Larry Becker died on February 20th, 1998
Scope and Content
The collection consists of items collected by Larry Becker including postcards, bulletins from Ontario Jewish organizations, sermons, periodicals, books, hand painted lantern slides documenting scenes of Jews in early Toronto, and other material relating to Ontario's Jewry
Information for biographical sketch gathered and cited from "Collecting Toronto: Through the Eyes of Larry Becker" virtual exhibit from the City of Toronto website at: http://www.city.toronto.on.ca/archives/becker_collections/
The lantern slides have been rehoused and moved to the negative cabinet.
Associated material note: The City of Toronto Archives has an extensive collection in the Larry Becker fonds, Fonds 70 (see Accession file for details)
The textual records are in good condition. The colour photographs are suffering from severe dark fading and have taken on a distinct red cast.
Morris Norman (b. 1946) is a chartered accountant living and working in Toronto. He is an avid collector of Canadiana, specifically Judaica. He purchases lots at auction and donates them to the Ontario Jewish Archives, as well as other institutions.
Scope and Content
This collection consists of the individual items collected at auction by Morris Norman. The records relate to the Toronto Jewish community and Ontario Jewry and include textual documents, photographs, near-prints, publications, artifacts, posters and broadsheets, sound recordings, and ephemera. Most of the items relate to various Jewish organizations, businesses, synagogues and individuals, and to Christian missionary work in Toronto. The material has been described at the file level, or where appropriate, the item level.
There are also four distinct series of records which document Berul Sugarman, who was a concert violinist and orchestral leader; the Franklin family, who owned a large amount of property in Toronto in the late 1800s and early 1900s; radio and television scripts written by Wayne and Shuster, Henry Karpus and Russell Bradley; and a collection of Turofsky photographs.
Physical description note: Includes 49 objects, 25 photographs, 7 audio recordings and 4 prints.