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Laurie Manoim
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
16 July 2015
Oral Histories
Laurie Manoim
AC 424
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
16 July 2015
Gail Freeman
Total Running Time
AC 424 part 1: 40 min.
AC 424 part 2: 9 min.
Lorraine “Laurie” Manoim (née Stern) was born on 21 June 1945 in Johannesburg, South Africa. She spent a happy childhood growing up with her two brothers and many cousins. Her parents were founding members of Temple Emanuel, a Reform synagogue.
Laurie’s family is a rich tapestry of nationalities. Her paternal grandparents were from Austria and Germany; her maternal grandfather was from Morocco; her maternal grandmother was from Poland; and her mother was born in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). In addition, Laurie is a descendant of Solica Hachuel, a Moroccan-Jewish martyr who was killed in the early nineteenth century. This background made Laurie’s family stand out from other Jewish families in South Africa, many of whom originally emigrated from Lithuania.
After earning her bachelor of arts, Laurie married and had a son, Gary. She and her husband opened a restaurant, which Laurie ran by herself for the first two years, but ended up divorcing. Not wanting her son to internalize the values of apartheid South Africa, Laurie made the decision to immigrate to Canada with her son.
Laurie and Gary arrived in Canada in 1978. Laurie managed to raise Gary without family support and while holding down multiple jobs. She worked in the restaurant industry for a number of years, even owning a deli at one point, but ultimately decided to go back to school, earning a master’s degree in industrial relations (MIR). After graduating, she worked at the Government of Canada for twenty-eight years. During this time her parents immigrated to Canada and she supported them by having the additional income from students residing in her home for fifteen years. Laurie graduated from Guelph as a master gardener. (Gardening is her major hobby.)
Laurie has a large and diverse social circle and a broad range of interests. She has been back to South Africa many times as her son returned to work there for twenty years before returning to Canada. She has no desire to move back, commenting that she couldn’t go back to an empty life, to being a prisoner of luxury and discrimination.
Material Format
moving images
Name Access
Manoim, Laurie, 1945-
Geographic Access
Bulawayo (Zimbabwe)
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Original Format
Digital file
Copy Format
Digital file
Part 1:
00:00 Laurie's maiden name was Stern. She was born on 21 June 1945 in Johannesburg. She immigrated to Canada in 1978.
00:55 Laurie's paternal grandparents came from Germany and Austria. Her father was born in South Africa. Her maternal grandfather came from Morocco. Her maternal grandmother came from Poland. Her mother was born in Rhodesia.
01:19 Laurie discusses how her maternal grandfather from Morocco came to Bulawayo in Rhodesia.
02:20 Laurie discusses her childhood. She had two brothers. One brother died at age twenty-two. Her younger brother is married and lives in South Africa.
03:18 Laurie discusses her family's religious observance. Her father came from a small farming town, Schweizer-Reneke. Her parents were founding members of Temple Emanuel, a Reform synagogue.
04:50 Laurie outlines her education: elementary grades at Rosebank (a public school), secondary grades at King David (a Jewish day school).
06:22 Laurie earned a bachelor of arts in sociology and economics at university. She studied computers and market research.
07:53 Laurie got engaged and married. In 1970, she and her husband decided to immigrate. Laurie discusses some of their reasons and their plan. They ran a restaurant to get a cash business.
09:07 Laurie discusses the breakdown of her marriage that ended in divorce. She needed to get court's permission to bring her son with her to Canada.
10:06 Laurie explains her decision to immigrate to Canada.
11:00 Laurie describes her disappointment when her son, Gary, returned to South Africa.
12:38 Laurie considered and abandoned the options of living in Israel and San Francisco.
13:35 Laurie describes her struggles with finding suitable housing, finding stable employment, and raising her young son during her early years in Canada.
17:57 Laurie mentions preparation for her son's bar mitzvah.
18:50 Laurie returned to university to earn a master's degree in industrial relations. She found a government post, where she remained for twenty-six years.
20:30 Laurie shares some of her initial impressions of living in Canada. She compares and contrasts the Jewish communities in South Africa and Toronto, and specifically highlights how the needs of the South African Jewish immigrants differed from other Jewish immigrant groups.
24:43 Laurie identifies some of the challenges she faced when she came to Toronto.
25:34 Laurie describes the circumstances that triggered her parents' immigration to Canada in 1996.
27:04 Laurie describes her mother's artistic training and endeavours.
28:53 Laurie discusses some of the South African traditions she has maintained while living in Canada.
31:06 Laurie rediscovered seven South African childhood friends in Canada, but most of her friends are Canadian.
32:13 Laurie describes her passion for gardening.
34:05 Laurie identifies an incident when she first felt Canadian. She describes how her family in South Africa became dispersed.
35:17 Laurie shares an anecdote about one of her Moroccan ancestors.
37:33 Laurie shares memories of her move to Canada.
Part 2:
00:20 Laurie explains how she was able to secure housing at Bayview Mews after some initial challenges.
03:00 Laurie offers tribute to her work colleagues and gives some examples to justify her admiration.
06:05 Laurie speaks of her relationship with a friend during her life and during her terminal illness.
08:24 Laurie discusses her travel plans for retirement.
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Immigrating Solo to Canada

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