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2 records – page 1 of 1.
Name
Fred Schaeffer
Material Format
sound recording
Interview Date
11 July 1980
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Fred Schaeffer
Number
AC 024
Subject
Small communities
Immigrants--Canada
Interview Date
11 July 1980
Quantity
1
Interviewer
Stephen Speisman
Total Running Time
Side 1: 31 minutes
Side 2: 9 minutes
Conservation
Copied August 2003
Use Restrictions
Copyright is held by the Ontario Jewish Archives. Please contact the Archives to obtain permission prior to use.
Biography
Fred Schaeffer's wife, Beverley, grew up in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. Beverley's grandfather, Hyman Kaplan, emigrated from Vilna, Lithuania in 1907, and after a few years in New York, moved to Toronto. Shortly afterwards he became the first Jew to settle in Kirkland Lake in 1914.
In the 1920s the Jewish community in Kirkland Lake built a permanent synagogue, and acquired the Aron Kodesh of Eastern European design, its lamps, railings, pews and reader’s desk, from the disbanded Ukrainishe Shul in Montreal. In the 1970s the Kirkland Lake Synagogue disbanded and Fred and Beverly Schaeffer acquired the Aron Kodesh, all of its furnishings, the Ner Tamid and the Parochet. They generously donated these Jewish artifacts to Beth Tikvah Synagogue, Toronto, in 1988, in memory of Isadore Kaplan, father of Beverly Schaeffer and Erich Schaeffer, father of Fred Schaeffer.
Fred, married Beverley in Toronto. Like many children from Kirkland Lake, Beverley had moved to the city to attend university. Fred and Beverley are keen collectors of Canadian art. He is a retired civil engineer and a former chairman of the Canadian art historical committee at the AGO.
Material Format
sound recording
Name Access
Schaeffer, Fred
Geographic Access
Krugerdorf, Ont.
Timmins, Ont.
Kirkland Lake, Ont.
Swastika, Ont.
Ansonville, Ont.
Original Format
Audio cassette
Copy Format
Audio cassette
Digital file
Transcript
AC 024: Side A
0.14: Fred discusses the first Jews to settle in Northern Ontario in the area around Krugerdorf/Engelhart. He mentions Edith Atkinson (nee Martin) as a good primary source of information. Edith’s father, a Russian Jew who came to Canada via Scotland was employed by Temagami and Northern Ontario Railway to bring Russian Jews to work on the railroad.
1.11: Atkinson is related to Atkins and Etkins families.
2.25: Jewish families received land patents in the area of Krugerdorf (north of Engelhart).
2.44: Kurtz family started a hotel in Engelhart in 1908.
3.07: Mentions some of the earliest Jewish settlers. Gurevitch, Korman, Martin, Henerovsky, Purkiss
4.18: Women farmed during the week while the men worked on the railroad. Men came home on weekend.
5.05: Mentions a diary written by Mr. Martin, Edith Atkinson’s father.
5.42: Earliest records in Jewish cemetery in Krugerdorf were 1906. Relates a story involving a canoe accident. Tells a brief history of the cemetery.
8.00: Railway started to develop in 1908/9 with the opening of the mines in Timmins. Many Jews followed the railroad.
8.45: Mentions that the Purkiss family opened a chain of stores in every town that opened.
9.25: Mentions that the Bucavetsky family was well-known in Timmins.
9.58: Jews had settled in Cochrane.
10.16: First Rabbi in Timmins was Shulman.
11.15: Fred discusses early community organizations. One synagogue on a farm in Krugerdorf area. One synagogue in Engelhart that burnt down. Synagogue in Kirkland Lake built in 1926. Minyans were held in Cochrane and Ansonville (1918/19). Timmins synagogue dates back to 1910/12.
17.15: Fred describes Iroquois Falls as an Abitibi company town. Jews who ran businesses lived in nearby Ansonville.
18.02: Fred notes that there were many prominent Jews in Northern Ontario. He names several and describes their positions. (e.g.Dave Korman as Mayor of Engelhart, Rothschild was alderman in Cochrane, Barnie (?) Nasoff was on council and was Reeve of Ansonville, Max Kaplan Kirkland Lake council, Nicky Korman was Mayor).
21.11: Fred relates anecdotes about Roza Brown, the first Jew in Swastika / Kirkland area.
23.36: Fred relates anecdotes about Hyman and Max Kaplan (brothers-in-law) who ran businesses in Kirkland Lake.
25.26: Rabbi Rabinowitch was a long-standing rabbi in Kirkland Lake.
27.26: Discusses the demise /closure of the synagogue in Kirkland Lake. Remained open until 1979. Last Rosh HaShana services were held in 1977.
28.05: Discusses the situation with the Timmins Jewish community.
30.05: Discusses the plight of a poor Jewish family, the Mallins.
AC 024: Side B
0.15: Fred suggests some reference material. “Northland Post” – good source for info about Jewish community in Northern Ontario. “Silverland” – book that describes Kurt’s Hotel. Special edition of a newspaper that published an article on the history of the Jewish community.
1.48: The Jews of the North have themselves as self-sufficient community during the 1920s, 30s and 40s. They were represented in the first Jewish Congress.
3.33: Fred notes that there was a Jewish presence in most towns in Northern Ontario. He suggest that Haileybury may have been the exception due to antisemitic sentiments.
4.10: Mentions a fire in Haileybury in 1916/17 and the Jewish contribution to fire relief.
4.25: Relates an anecdote re. Hyman Kaplan and Haileybury.
5.48: Describes the location of a few small communities (Elk Lake, Charlton)
Source
Oral Histories

In this clip, Fred Schaeffer and Stephen Speisman discuss some of the earliest synagogues established in Northern Ontario.

In this clip, Fred Schaeffer relates colourful anecdotes about the first Jewish settler in the Swastika-Kirkland area, Roza Brown.

Name
Isidore Kaplan
Material Format
sound recording
Interview Date
3 June 1975
Source
Oral Histories
Name
Isidore Kaplan
Number
AC 009
AC 010
Subject
Small communities
Art and popular culture
Business
Interview Date
3 June 1975
Quantity
2
Interviewer
Sophie Milgram
Total Running Time
009A: 29 minutes 009B: 41 minutes 010A: 30 minutes
Conservation
Copied August 2003
Notes
Reduced sound quality at times.
Use Restrictions
Copyright is held by the Ontario Jewish Archives. Please contact the Archives to obtain permission prior to use.
Biography
Isidore Kaplan was born in Vilna in 1910. His father was the first Jew to settle in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. Isidore's father, a successful businessman, opened a general store in 1915 and a movie theatre in 1923. The Jewish community of Kirkland Lake grew to 135 families and was able to support a synagogue, kosher butcher and after-school cheder at its peak.
Material Format
sound recording
Name Access
Kaplan, Isidore
Milgram, Sophie
Geographic Access
Kirkland Lake, Ont.
Cobalt, Ont.
Englehart, Ont.
Krugerdorf, Ont.
Swastika, Ont.
Original Format
Audio cassette
Copy Format
Audio cassette
Digital file
Transcript
AC 009: Side 1
0.20: Isidore was born in a town near Vilna in 1910.
0.40: Isidore had 2 brothers and 1 sister, all immigrated to Canada.
1.20: Isidore’s father came alone to America initially in 1907, went back to Europe to take care of a leather business. Returned a second time to America (New York) in 1912. Came to Toronto because of a contact.
6.15: Isidore’s father and friend, Mr. Teitlebaum, moved to Cobalt in northern Ontario to pursue employment opportunities that were the result of the growth of the mining industry. Mentioned the mining of cobalt and silver.
7.50: Isidore’s father and Teitlebaum walked from Cobalt to Timmins via Engelhart and Swastika. Described the development of the Jewish community in northern Ontario. Existing Jewish cemetery. Were offered land to farm by the government in Krugerdorf. 25-30 Jewish families started farming.
9.43: Explained that some of the Jews who settled the area had escaped from the Russo-Japanese war.
10.27: Reported that the Ontario government helped to bring out Jewish prisoners who had been captured by the Japanese.
11.55: Related a story of Isadore’s father rooming with a Jewish woman, Mrs. Rosa Brown in Swastika.
14.11: Listed names (?) of the agents for the town site and explained about the purchase of lots.
15.50: Isidore’s father was the first Jew in Kirkland Lake. He opened a general store in 1915. Related a story about how he acquired the materials to build the store. Described the construction of the store.
23.00: Isidore’s father’s brother-in-law, Max, became a partner in the business in 1915.
25.45: Isidore’s father traveled to Toronto to purchase supplies. Ordered groceries from Rubin and Fine who were in the grocery business in Toronto.
28.00: Business was very slow for several months. Competed with ?Labarge?
29.00: Mrs. Brown suggested that Isidore’s father start to sell meat.
AC 009: Side 2
0.40: Mrs. Rosa Brown helped solicit customers who were uneasy about doing business with Jews.
2.55: Isidore’s father offered more competitive prices. Business increased.
5.26: Expanded business to sell ice cream. Business prospered.
7.17: Described incident which he suspected was anti-Semitic involving the deliberate starting of a fire in the store in 1917. The store was destroyed.
8.35: Isidore’s uncle Max Kaplan, brother to his mother was his father’s business partner.
9.30: Isidore’s father rebuilt store. Once again the business prospered.
11.45: In 1921 ?Percussis? opened a store
12.48: Isidore’s father bought furs (e.g.beaver) and sold them to Hudson’s Bay outlet.
13.30: In 1921 Isidore’s father purchased 2 lots across the street from Harry Oaks to build a movie theatre.
15.20: Related problems regarding the purchase (e.g. inability to secure a mortgage, difficulty acquiring building supplies, leveling the property, etc.). Described how Harry Oaks (who was described as a very wealthy man) arranged for Isidore’s father to borrow money from the Royal Bank. Isidore attributed this to their trusting relationship.
19.50: The building was also used as a meeting hall for 2 Lodges, Masonic and ?
20.53: The theatre was completed in 1923.
23.40: Brought the family from Poland to Kirkland Lake, 4 children, his wife and Isidore’s aunt in 1923. Isidore’s grandmother was unable to come due to health reasons. Initially, Isidore’s father purchased tickets from ?Jurovski?, local travel agent but all was lost so he purchased tickets directly from White Star line.
25.30: 1 other Jewish family in Kirkland Lake, ?Stotts?
26.00: Other Jewish families moved into Kirkland Lake around 1924 to 1927.
27.00: By 1927, there were enough Jews to have a Minyan for Yontif in Kirkland Lake. Held services in the first theatre. Before 1927, Jews traveled to Englehart for religious services.
27.55: Mentioned a large fire in northern Ontario in 1922. (Kirkland Lake was spared.) The original synagogue in Englehart was destroyed. Rented another hall for religious services.
28.28: Mentioned a pious Jew who was a farmer who acted as prayer leader, Baal Tefilah.
AC 010: Side 1
0.22: Mr. Finkleman and Mr. Levinsky paid $350 for a lot and built a synagogue in 1928 in Kirkland Lake. Originally, held services in the back of Mr. Levinsky’s candy store.
2.55: About 12-14 Jewish families in Kirkland Lake by 1927.
3.20: Jews worked as merchants or miners. Isidore’s father helped find jobs for miners. Listed names of local merchants.
6.50: Reported 135 Jewish families in Kirkland Lake. Cited incidents of antisemitism. E.g. Isidore’s uncle who served on town council could not be elected Mayor because he was Jewish, antisemitic comments.
7.58: In 1975, reported that 8 Jewish families remained in Kirkland Lake, Shul was closed. Jews have moved from surrounding areas.
9.23: First Rabbi, Ruben, came to Kirkland Lake in 1928.
11.55: Next Rabbi, ?Luvich? originated from Holland. Related story about how Isidore’s, uncle Max approached a member of parliament, Russell Gordon, in order to prevent the Rabbi from being sent back to Europe.
13.45: Jewish community in Kirkland Lake continued to grow until 1937. Reported community decline with a downturn in the economy with the outbreak of the Second World War, a mining strike and closures of mines.
18.50: Synagogue rebuilt in 1945. The bima was purchased from a synagogue in Montreal by Mr. Stott. The bima had been built in Hungary.
21.10: Kirkland Lake supported a local kosher butcher, Turkin
22.06: The Rabbi from Kirkland Lake traveled by train to Jewish communities in outlying areas.
22.55: Discussed high rate of intermarriage.
24.35: Jewish education taught by Rabbi in after-school program.
25.16: Reported that children of founding Jewish families tended to be University educated. Children left Kirkland Lake and did not return.
Source
Oral Histories

Isidore Kaplan's father was the first Jewish resident of Kirkland Lake, Ontario. In this clip, Isidore relates his father's journey in 1912 from Toronto to Kirkland Lake in northern Ontario via Engelhart and Swastika.

In this clip, Isidore Kaplan describes the decline of Kirkland Lake, Ontario

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