The Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA) was established in 1973 and remains in operation today. The OJA’s mandate is to acquire, preserve, and make available records documenting Ontario’s Jewish community. The Archives became a legal corporation on 24 February 1977 with authorization from the Federal Corporations Act and the Provincial Letters Patent.
The Toronto Jewish Historical Society (TJHS) established an Archives Committee in 1971, to preserve the records of Toronto’s Jewish community. This prompted the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) Central Region to work with the TJHS to establish an organization that would preserve records of Jewish communities across Ontario. At a CJC Central Region Officers’ meeting in 1973, TJHS president Victor Sefton proposed that the Historical Society’s Archives Committee become an official arm of the CJC. After approving the proposal, the CJC Central Region allocated a budget for operation of the Archives, and the two Committees merged, forming one archival organization that operated under the umbrella of the CJC Central Region.
After the Toronto Jewish Congress (TJC) formed in 1976, the Archives became accountable to the TJC but continued to report to the CJC Central Region. In 1992, the TJC and CJC transferred responsibility for the Archives to the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation, and the Archives remains part of that organization today.
The OJA’s administrative structure includes a Board of Directors, the director of the archives, archivists, an assistant archivist, contract employees, and volunteers. The Board of Directors consists of six to twelve members, each approved by UJA Federation and current Board members. Meetings are held a minimum four times per year and are presided by a Chair or the Vice Chair in the Chair’s absence. The Archives Director manages daily operation of the Archives. From 1973 to around 2000, Stephen Speisman acted as Director of the Archives. Ellen Scheinberg served as Archives Director from October 2002 to January 2011. Dara Solomon began as the OJA's Director in May 2012.
Since 1973, the Archives has undergone unofficial and official name changes. When first established in 1973, the Archives was called the “Canadian Jewish Congress Central Region Archives.” After the Archives became accountable to the TJC, OJA letterheads and publicity material occasionally bore the name “Toronto Jewish Congress / Canadian Jewish Congress Central Region Archives.” When the Archives became a legal corporation in 1977, the corporation was named the “Ontario Jewish Archives Foundation” but the Archives’ public name remained unchanged. In 1992, the Archives’ public name officially became the “Ontario Jewish Archives.”
Scope and Content
This sous-fonds documents the formation, administration, and operation of the OJA. Records relating to the establishment of the Archives date from 1971-1973, while those relating to administration and operation date from 1973-2008.
This sous-fonds consists of Archives Committee meeting minutes, memoranda, policies, communications with parent organizations (mainly TJC), financial records, correspondence, records documenting the development of the OJA website, and a small amount of acquisition files. Records in the sous-fonds relate to Archives programs and projects, including tours, exhibits, presentations, workshops, and services. Activities of employee and volunteer work are also documented. Also present are budgets and posters from the Oskar Asher Schmidt Museum, which the Archives operated.
Access restriction note: The financial records, personnel and competition files and grant files are restricted to the public.
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
Additional records related to this sous-fonds can be found in the Sol Edell fonds, Victor Sefton fonds, accession 2006-7/7 and Cyrel Troster's records.
Correspondence was originally organized in chronological order and remains in the original order. Other records have been arranged according to function or activity.
Ontario Jewish Archives (Toronto, Ont.)
This sous-fonds is comprised of accessions 2005-8/2, 2004-5/99 and 2004-6/5 along with MG8J and materials from the Sol Edell fonds.
The Jewish Immigrant Aid Society of Canada was organized into a national office in Montreal and regional offices in Winnipeg (Western Region), Toronto (Central Region) and Halifax (Eastern Region). The national office was responsible for directing and managing all the affairs of the organization, including defining national and international policy; administration of regional offices; national budget; fundraising; external relations with other organizations, such as the United Jewish Relief Agencies (UJRA) and Jewish Family & Child Services (JF&CS); and publicity. It also organized the annual meeting, special events and conventions.
Membership in JIAS was open to individuals, organizations or companies who paid an annual fee. General meetings of the membership were held at least once every two years, where reports were presented and considered, nominations and elections held for national officers and the national executive committee, policies, programs and problems discussed, and decisions taken.
The National Executive Committee of JIAS was composed of the following members: national president; three vice-presidents (the presidents of the Western, Central and Eastern regions), with the addition in the 1950s of a vice-president at large; three regional treasurers, eventually reduced to one national treasurer; secretary; and twelve members comprising four representatives from each region. In 1929 the ‘executive secretary’ position was renamed ‘executive director.’ According to the 1943 constitution, the executive was required to hold meetings at least three times a year, in alternate cities. In 1954 this was amended to twice a year.
During the early stages of JIAS's operations, it had to face the difficulty of being overstretched financially, as it sought to respond to and to change the often oppressive living conditions of new immigrants and the situation of those held in federal detention centres. The organization’s principled approach to immigrant welfare won JIAS much of its early success, as it became the preferred contact for government officials who had formerly dealt with numerous independent agencies, many of which had profited from the exploitation of desperate immigrants. This situation also profited the government, however, as the responsibility for establishing the priority of applications reverted increasingly to JIAS as it had to limit its appeals by the quotas imposed by the federal government.
JIAS was one of the founding organizations responsible for the establishment of the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) in 1978, which has since operated as a non-profit umbrella organization to coordinate the efforts of immigrant and refugee advocacy groups. JIAS continues to operate offices across Canada in Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Hamilton, London, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Windsor and Winnipeg. The JIAS National Office moved from Montreal to Toronto in 1989, with the appointment of Susan Davis to National Director, and is now located at 4580 Dufferin St., Suite 306, Toronto, Ontario.
Scope and Content
Sous-fonds consists of National Office records retained by the Toronto JIAS office as reference copies. Records include meeting minutes, speeches and reports from annual meetings, and the published annual reports produced from the annual meetings. The sous-fonds covers the years 1926 to 1982 and is divided into the following series: 1. National Executive meeting minutes; 2. National annual meeting proceedings; 3. National annual reports; 4. Publications; and 5. Photographs.
Jewish Immigrant Aid Services of Canada (creator)
Records in off-site storage; advance notice required to view.