Benjamin Brown (ca. 1888-1974) was the first practicing Jewish architect in Toronto. Born in what is now Lithuania, he arrived in Toronto at an early age and soon after, quit school to take a job in a garment manufacturing factory to help out his impoverished family. Not finding this career to his liking, Brown enrolled in the Ontario School of Art and Design with the intention of becoming an artist. When this profession proved financially unfeasible, Brown decided to pursue a career in architecture. After completing his high school equivalency, he enrolled in the University of Toronto architectural program, graduating in 1913. Soon after, Brown opened up a practice with fellow architect Robert McConnell, which lasted until the early 1920s. After the partnership ended, Brown set up an independent practice, which he maintained until his retirement in 1955.
Scope and Content
The fonds documents Brown’s design work and renovations of existing buildings through his original drawings, renderings, and building blueprints. The fonds consists of approximately 1500 drawings that are organized into about 150 projects. These projects include single-family residences, apartment buildings, commercial and industrial buildings, as well as synagogue and other community buildings. Many of Brown's buildings were designed in the Art Deco style, with some containing Georgian, Craftsman, Colonial Revival, Tudor and Romanesque elements.
Brown's most important commissions include the Beth Jacob Synagogue located on Henry Street, which was one the largest synagogues in Toronto, and the Balfour Building, an office tower built in the Art Deco style. The designs of Mendel Granatstein’s mansion, which contained a retractable roof for Sukkoth, and a colour sketch of the Primrose Club, which is currently the University of Toronto Faculty Club, may also be of interest to researchers. The fonds also includes some of Brown's files containing articles and illustrations from architecture and design journals of the early twentieth century, which he used as a resource to assist him with his work.
Fonds includes six photographs, one of the Balfour Building, one of Cumberland Hall, and four of Brown as a young man.
Architectural plans of a lead mine in Burnt River Ontario have been sent to the Kawartha Lakes Archives.
Dr. Isadore M. Cass (1916-1996), a well-known pathologist and practicing mohel--Jewish ritual circumcisor--for the Toronto Jewish community, was born and educated in Toronto, attending the University of Toronto's medical school. After serving with the army during the Second World War, Dr. Cass returned to Toronto to private practice. He began studying pathology in 1953, and performed research at the Ontario Cancer Institute, Connaught Labs and the Ontario Department of Health throughout his career. He was chief of pathology at Ajax and Pickering hospitals for twenty-three years, until his retirement in 1986.
In 1945, Dr. Cass began doing ritual circumcisions and was the first medical doctor in Toronto to do so. He performed over 40,000 circumcisions throughout Canada and the eastern United States and trained many physicians to perform them as well.
Dr. Cass was a member of the following organizations: New York Academy of Sciences; the Academy of Medicine, Toronto; the Israel Medical Association; General Wingate Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion; and many other associations and societies.
Dr. Cass studied Torah under Rabbi Jacob Gordon and was a Torah reader at Goel Tzedec Synagogue and later, Beth Tzedec. He also studied and taught Torah throughout his life, chairing the Canadian Jewish Congress' Tanach study group for many years, and leading weekly Gemara classes at Beth Tzedec. He belonged to Shaarei Shomayim and Beth Lida synagogues, as well as Lubavitch. In 1987, Dr. and Mrs. Cass were honoured as "Couple of the Year" by Machanaim, The Network of Educational Institutions in Kiryat Gat, Israel, for their great contributions to this charity over the years.
Dr. Cass was married to Miriam Cass and they had four daughters: Sharon, Hylah, Judy, and Elaine. He had four brothers: the late Rabbi Samuel Cass, Harry, Al, and Elie (who was a Reform mohel), and two sisters: Miriam Cass and Zelda Fink. He also had seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Dr. Cass died on January 24, 1996 of cancer.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of records relating to the personal and professional life of Dr. Isadore Cass. These records include appointment books documenting circumcisions he performed, correspondence, writings, Tanach study group notes, a Machanaim invitation and programme, prayer books, certificates, memorial cards, and photographs.
Cass, Isadore M., 1916-1996
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
The prayer book is in poor condition and some of the early daytimers are in fair condition.
See also the Ontario Jewish Archives' reference news clipping file under "Cass, Dr. Isadore".