In late 1947 and early 1948 representatives of the Canadian garment industry organized what became known as the Tailor Project, an immigration program planned to select more than 2,200 skilled tailors from the Displaced Person camps of Europe, facilitate their immigration, and give them jobs in the garment trade and housing in Canada. The Tailor Project was based on similar schemes that had alleviated labour shortages in the logging and mining industries. Canadian Jewish Congress, eager to rescue Holocaust survivors from the DP camps, knew the government would approve a plan to bring in skilled workers to fill a shortage in the garment trades. Recognizing the plan had to come from within the garment industry itself, Congress provided guidance from behind the scenes.
The Tailor Project was the first program that permitted large numbers of Jewish adults to immigrate to Canada following the Second World War. More than half of the immigrants were Jewish. Max E. Enkin (men's clothing), Max Federman (fur workers), Joe Mack and others were sent by the Commission to Europe as part of the selection team. Provided they had the requisite skills, both single and married displaced persons were eligible to come to Canada.
Hundreds of tailoring firms in Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver were canvassed and many agreed to hire DP workers on 12-month contracts. The Canadian Overseas Commission, the industry's co-coordinating body, had to ensure proper housing for the expected workers. In response to Max Enkin's emphasis on providing accommodation, many individuals and community organizations reached out to those in need. Under the direction of the United Jewish Relief Agency, the office of the Canadian Overseas Garment Commission attended to the many and varying needs of the immigrant tailors, both Jewish and non-Jewish. In addition to providing financial assistance, the Commission gave attention to problems of landlord-tenant relationships, hospital, medical and dental care, gave direction and made referrals to other agencies for specialized services and co-operated with other organizations in their programs for immigrants.
The Tailor Project became the template for the Furrier Project that followed and spurred the formation in 1947 of the Jewish Vocational Service of Toronto, the original purpose of which was to help survivors of the Holocaust find employment.
Scope and Content
Series consists of the operational records of the Canadian Overseas Garment Commission. Records include agreements between garment industry manufacturers (employers) and employees, immigration records and passenger lists, general correspondence relating to the operation of the program, financial records, employee payroll records, contact and membership lists, the Canadian Overseas Garment Commission Toronto program report, statistical summaries, employee certificates of merit, discharge certificates, meeting minutes of the Toronto Program Steering Committee, employee worker cards and employee housing records. Also included is a hand drawn map locating the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society of Canada at 455 Spadina Ave., Toronto, circa 1947.
Series formerly described and cited as RG291.
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.