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Brenda and Colin Baskind
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
16 Jul. 2015
Oral Histories
Brenda and Colin Baskind
OH 423
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
16 Jul. 2015
Lisa Newman
Total Running Time
1 hr. 52 min.
Brenda met Colin on a blind date while attending teacher’s college in Johannesburg. The two dated for one year before getting married at the Pine Street Shul in 1967. Together, they raised three children—Stacey, Alana, and Cliff—and helped bring up the nephew of their maid, whom they regarded as family.
Around 1976, Colin and Brenda began thinking about emigrating as a result of the country’s worsening political situation. At first, their daughter was unwilling to move, but after a riot broke out at her university, she declared she had had enough. Initially, the family considered moving to Australia, but soon settled upon Canada, immigrating in 1987. Although they found the prospect of starting over intimidating, they received a warm welcome from both the South African Jewish community and the larger community.
Brenda and Colin purchased a khaloupe (a fixer-upper) that they transformed into a beautiful home, planting trees in its large garden. Brenda found employment with Holy Blossom Synagogue while Colin became president of the Southern African Jewish Association of Canada. In their free time, they took up running, a hobby that introduced them to many friends. By 2015, they had participated in eleven marathons.
Material Format
moving images
Name Access
Baskind, Brenda, 1944-
Baskind, Colin, 1941-
Geographic Access
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Port Elizabeth (South Africa)
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
00:13 Brenda (née Bebrow?) was born 29 October 1944 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Brenda discusses her parents’ divorce and the death of her brother from polio in 1956.
01:25 Brenda explains the reasons her mother sent her to boarding school in Grahamstown.
02:12 Brenda’s father drowned in the ocean in Port Elizabeth at age eleven.
03:41 Brenda’s mother worked as a bookkeeper in Johannesburg.
03:50 Brenda discusses her limited Jewish education and practice while living in Grahamstown.
05:40 Brenda reminisces about her experience at boarding school.
06:43 Brenda discusses how she was able to cope while dealing with her parents’ divorce, followed by the deaths of her brother, father, and grandmother.
07:36 Brenda’s maternal grandparents and great-grandmother were from Russia. They were observant Jews.
09:12 Brenda moved to Johannesburg at age eighteen to attend teacher’s college. She describes living with her great-aunt, great-uncle, and cousin.
10:21 Brenda describes how she met her husband, Colin.
11:37 Colin was born on 20 April 1941 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He lived with his parents and younger sister.
12:03 Colin reminisces about his early years. He discusses his friends and interest in sports.
13:50 Colin’s father was a butcher. His mother assisted his father.
14:18 Colin discusses the high quality of his education.
15:32 Colin’s father practiced Orthodox Judaism.
16:26 Colin discusses his Jewish education. He reminisces about his bar mitzvah.
18:43 Colin describes how he helped with his father’s business.
20:21 Colin’s father was born in Lithuania at age 11. His mother was born in Latvia. Both came to South Africa in the 1920s.
21:39 Colin attended university in Johannesburg.
23:21 Colin discusses work experience.
25:12 Colin and Brenda reminisce about their initial meeting, courtship, and marriage.
29:30 Colin and Brenda’s eldest daughter Alana was born.
29:36 Colin and Brenda discuss their close relationship with their nanny and her family. They describe the living conditions for nannies in general.
33:23 Colin and Brenda recount how they helped raise the baby of their nanny’s sister.
36:50 Brenda’s mother remarried a third time.
39:18 Brenda discusses her work as a nursery school teacher in Johannesburg and Toronto.
41:06 Colin and Brenda explain the reasons that triggered their decision to emigrate. They describe the Soweto riots in 1976.
45:08 Colin explains how they chose and were accepted to immigrate to Canada. Colin and Brenda discuss the distinct advantages of living in Canada relative to South Africa and Australia.
52:33 Colin only considered leaving South Africa after his parents passed away.
53:10 Colin and Brenda discuss their children’s points of view about leaving South Africa.
55:23 Colin and Brenda describe how they got ready for the move to Canada. They discuss what they were and were not allowed to bring out of South Africa.
57:27 Colin explains how some South Africans left the country without going through the steps of formal immigration.
57:26 Brenda describes her fears concerning the move and explains the reasons some of her friends have remained in South Africa.
1:00:04 Brenda shares early memories of moving to Toronto: buying a house and a car.
1:03:09 Colin and Brenda contrast the quality of living between Johannesburg and Toronto.
1:05:04 Colin and Brenda discuss how they formed their early social connections.
1:07:46 Colin discusses how he maintained interest in sport, both as a participant and as a spectator. Sport was another means of making friends.
1:10:0 Colin volunteered with the Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS) for five years and became involved with the Southern African Jewish Association of Canada (SAJAC).
1:10:40 Colin discusses his involvement with SAJAC.
1:12:44 Brenda and Colin discuss some of the language and cultural challenges they encountered when they arrived in Canada.
1:16:17 Colin and Brenda discuss the achievements of their children.
1:20:42 Colin and Brenda discuss their daughter Stacy’s decision to be a single mother. Brenda discusses their involvement with baby Lily’s care and their decision to buy a house with private quarters to share with Stacy and Lily.
1:28:18 Brenda discusses two trips back to South Africa to care for her mother in 1998.
1:32:28 Brenda discusses the changes she noted in South Africa during her visit.
1:34:43 Colin discusses his volunteer work with JIAS, SAJAC, Jewish Family & Child (JF&CS) and JVC. He explains his desire to enable others to prepare themselves for and find work.
1:43:33 Colin discusses some of the challenges faced by his sister.
1:46:50 Colin and Brenda share their views on the current and future situation in South Africa.
Oral Histories

The Way Things Were

A khaloupe!

A Scholarship Based on Need

Part Of
Henry Rosenbaum fonds
Fonds 121
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Henry Rosenbaum fonds
Material Format
graphic material
graphic material (electronic)
textual record
Physical Description
247 photographs : b&w and col. (1 negative); 20 x 25 or smaller
13 cm of textual records
Admin History/Bio
Henry "Hanoch" Rosenbaum (1925-2015) was born in Radom, Poland. He was the second youngest of eight children born to Rachel Rosenbaum (née Katz) and Moshe Rosenbaum.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, Herny learned the fate of Radom's Jewish civilian population. Two thirds of Radom's Jewish poulation were victims of mass murder and perished in the extermination camp Treblinka, immediately following the first liquidation of Radom's large ghetto in August 1942. Henry's parents, two siblings and their families were among the innocent victims murdered during the Holocaust.
Henry Rosenbaum met his wife Bella Rotbard (1925-2012) while living in an Italian DP after the war. Although Bella was also from Radom, she did not know the Rosenbaum family. Bella's parents, her sixteen-year-old sister and four-year-old brother along with most of her parents' extended families were also victims of the Holocaust.
While in Italy, the Joint Distribution Committee funded "mock kibbutzim", preparing Holocaust survivors for immigration to Palestine and kibbutz life. Bella, a one-time member of the secular Jewish youth movement Hashomer Hatzair, believed that she was destined to be a "kibbutznik", a member of a kibbutz.
In 1946, Bella and Henry immigrated to Palestine as part of the Bricha. The Bricha supported the illegal immigration of Holocaust survivor refugees to Palestine. They spent their first few days in Atlit, a British Mandate detainee camp, and soon settled on kibbutz. Bella married Henry in 1946 and moved to an apartment in Ramat Gan. During this time Henry served in the IDF’s motor pool.
Henry, Bella and their young daughter Brenda (b. 1949) immigrated to Toronto in 1952. With the assistance of a relative, Henry gained employment in a print shop sweeping floors. Henry soon advanced to machine operator and in 1961 opened his own print shop Trio Press Limited.
Bella worked in the garment industry sewing collars onto shirts and earned her wages through piece work. She continued working in manufacturing up until the birth of her second child Murray (b. 1961).
Henry Rosenbaum was an active life-long member of the Radom Society and served as editor for their quarterly Yiddish and English journal the “Voice of Radom”.
Custodial History
Material was in possession of Henry Rosenbaum's daughter Brenda Bornstein.
Scope and Content
Fonds illustrates the family history of Henry Rosenbaum and the life he and his wife Bella Rosenbaum rebuilt in Canada. Photographs document: early life in Poland, displaced persons camp in Italy, immigration to Palestine, military service in the Israel Defense Forces, family life in Israel, immigration and settlement in Canada and many milestone events and celebrations in Toronto, Ontario. Additional photographs of the Radom Society in Toronto. The majority of the photographs were assembled in a scrapbook created by their daughter Brenda Bornstein in celebration of her parents' thirtieth wedding anniversary (1976). In addition, there is a more comprehensive biography written by Henry and Bella's son-in-law Eric Bornstein.
Fonds consists of records relating to Henry Rosenbaum and his affiliation with B’nai Radom. Included are programs and souvenir booklets from the 1962 unveiling of a monument in memory of the Jewish Martyrs and Heroes of Radom and Vicinity (Poland), annual Holocaust remembrance (Yizkor) events published in 1987 and 2010; and a 50th Anniversary of Liberation publication. Books include a Yiddish language bound copy of the Voice of Radom from 1963-1965, an English language bound copy of the Voice of Radom 1983–1989 and Henry Rosenbaum’s personal memoir published in 1995. In addition, there are eight photographs of Henry's great-grandchildren, and a photo of Henry with his daughter Brenda.In addition there is a collection of speeches written by Henry Rosenbaum primarily for family milestone events such as weddings, birthdays, bar mtizvahs, and bat mitzvahs. In addition there is a copy of a presentation made to the Radom Congregation on the occasion of Israel's twenty-fifth year of independence, a Hebrew-language letter of congratulations, and several personal letters written by Murray Rosenbaum (the latter are addressed to his parents while travelling to Israel and Europe). The personal speeches written and delivered by Henry were in honour of the following relatives: Rivi Anklewicz, Marshall Lofchick, Murray Rosenbaum, Elana Aizic, Regina Goldstein, Brenda Rosenbaum, Eric "Ricky" Bornstein, Murray Severin, Robin Severin-Weingort, Rachel Bornstein, Susan Szainwald, Daniel Bornstein, Sholom Rosenbaum, Bella Rosenbaum, Linda Goldstein, and Leon Aizic.
Holocaust survivors
Rosenbaum, Henry, 1925-2015
Toronto (Ont.)
Accession Number
Archival Descriptions