Joseph and Gertrude Schwartz were respectively born in the United States and Austria. They had four daughers, Sylvia, Helen, Fanny and Ruth. Joseph was a furier who eventually set up his own business, J. Schwartz & Co. Ltd., a fur manufacturing company on Madison Avenue. He later became a partner in the Park Plaza Hotel on Avenue Road. Helen married Dr. Isaac Shleser, a doctor of internal medicine, and had two daughters, Gillian and Jan. Ruth was a respected book seller in Toronto. In 1976 Sylvia Schwartz set up a special children's book award to honour her late sister Ruth. In 2004, six years after Sylvia's death, her family changed the name of the award to the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards.
Sylvia Schwartz was born in 1914 in Toronto. Her parents were Joseph and Gertrude, who were respectively born in the United States and Austria. She had three sisters, Helen, Fannie and Rosetta (Ruth). Her family moved to Toronto around 1903. Joseph was a furier who eventually set up his own business, J. Schwartz & Co. Ltd., a fur manufacturing company on Madison Avenue. He later became a partner in the Park Plaza Hotel on Avenue Road. Unlike her siblings, Sylvia was a dwarf, who led a successful life despite her physical limitations. She became a prominent portrait photographer in Toronto and owned a studio on Grenville Road. She began her career during the 1940s, capturing images of families, servicemen during the war as well as brides. She eventually carved out a niche for herself mid-career, specializing in children's portraiture. In addition to her professional activities, she was also recognized for her commitment to Communism. She befriended many famous American artists who were supporters of the cause, such as Paul Robeson, Duke Ellington, Lena Horne and Cab Caloway, travelling across the border frequently to attend meetings and work with her American comrades.
Jan Shleser (now Simonsky) is the daughter of Dr. Isaac Shleser and Helen (Schwartz) Shleser. She is the sister of Jill Shleser and the niece of Sylvia Schwartz. She is married to Rob Simonsky.
Jan was nominated for the 2012/2013 Sisterhood Board of Directors at Holy Blossom Temple.
Fanny (nee Schwartz) Solway was the sister of Sylvia Schwartz. She was married to Alex Solway (d. 1 July 1988) and had two children, Carol and Herbert. She had three grandchildren, Gary, Diane and Michael. She died on 22 April 1971.
Herbert Solway received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto in 1953 and a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1955. He was called to the Bar in 1957. Herbert was a founding member of Goodmans LLP, joining the firm in 1955. He has played a significant role in helping build the foundation of the firm, serving as its chair from 1980 to 1992. He served as a Chariman until 1994 and Partner until 1998. He continues to serve as Counsel to Goodmans. He was appointed to the Queen's Counsel in 1968.
Herbert has also been a Director of Gluskin Sheff and Associates Inc. since May 2006. He is a Director of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and a Founding director of the Tarragon Theatre Company. He was a Founding director of Sun Media Corporation, as well as a Director of John Labatt Ltd.
Carol Solway is the daughter of Alex and Fanny Solway, brother of Herbert Solway and the niece of Sylvia Schwartz.
Frances Gruber was the closest personal friend of Sylvia Schwartz. Schwartz photographed her many times with musicians and celebrities.
Scope and Content
Item is a large group portrait of front row (left to right): Jan Shleser, Joseph Schwartz, Gertrude Schwartz and Sylvia Schwartz. Second row (left to right): Carol Solway, Fanny Solway, Helen Shleser, Herbert Solway, Ruther Schwartz and Frances Gruber.
This item has no proofs.
Copyright is held by the Ontario Jewish Archives. Please contact the Archives to obtain permission prior to use.
See Fonds 80, series 5 for more portraits of the Schwartz, Shleser and Solway families.