In 1924 the first official Toronto annual Hadassah Bazaar was held at the Masonic Temple at Davenport and Yonge. Over the years, venues changed with increasing demands for space as the popularity of the event grew. These locations included Varsity Stadium (1945-1948), the Automotive Building at the CNE (1949-1999), and currently the CNE’s National Trade Centre (Direct Energy Centre).Toronto pioneered the mammoth volunteer-run bazaar concept and was followed by other cities – Montreal (ca.1932), Vancouver (1951) and a number of smaller communities.
Admission fees were documented from 25 cents in 1934 to $4 in the 1990s.In most instances throughout the years, reduced or free admission was offered to preschoolers and seniors.
The early bazaars sold used clothing, hand sewn articles and home cooked kosher specialties. The 1930s saw the introduction of “carnival elements” such as fortune telling and bingo, and social events that included dinners, floor shows and dancing to the music of well known bands. The “Beautiful Child Photography Contests”, fashion shows, art exhibits, and the Hadassah Exposition and Bazaar Cooking Schools were inaugurated during the same decade.
During the Second World War, the Red Cross and war efforts were incorporated into bazaar activities. In the 1950s auctions were introduced.1963 saw the first Eilat Lighthouse – a colossal advertising pyramid. From the 1970s to the 1990s, new features such as clothes boutiques, mini-stores, and disco contests appeared.
Proceeds from the fairs and bazaars from the Bazaar’s inception until recent years rose exponentially from a thousand or so dollars to hundreds of thousands. These funds have generally been directed to medical and welfare services for needy women and children in Israel. From 1939-45, some of the monies were directed to war projects in Palestine, England, and Egypt. Recent beneficiaries include Asaf Harofe Rehabilitation Hospital, Nahalal (a co-educational secondary school focusing on farming technology), and medical research at the Hebrew University.
Enthusiastic crowds of up to 60,000 continue to line up at 6 am on the last Wednesday of October every year. The City of Toronto has recognized the Bazaar since 1989 with it’s proclamation of “Hadassah – Wizo Bazaar Day”.
From modest beginnings, Toronto’s Hadassah Bazaar has evolved into what is billed as the “largest one day bazaar in the world”.
The 84th was the last bazaar held in October 2008.
Scope and Content
The series consists of records in the form of textual documents, photographs, posters, scrapbooks and audio- visual recordings that document the history of the Toronto Hadassah Bazaar from 1924-2006.These include activities such as social events, meetings, rallies, as well as records including press clippings, memorabilia, correspondence, and financial reports.
028 - [Unidentified], Ella Fleischmann, [Unidentified], Israel Booth at Hadassah Bazaar, Exhibition Place, Toronto, Ontario [ca. 1965].
Physical description note: Includes 2472 photographs, 3 posters, 2 audio recordings, 4 video recordings, 2 artifacts, and 8 scrapbooks.
The textual records are aranged in chronological order and then by activity such as planning, correspondence and publicity.