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Isidore Kaplan
Material Format
sound recording
Interview Date
3 June 1975
Oral Histories
Isidore Kaplan
AC 009
AC 010
Interview Date
3 June 1975
Sophie Milgram
Total Running Time
009A: 29 minutes 009B: 41 minutes 010A: 30 minutes
Copied August 2003
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.
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
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 antisemitic 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.
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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