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Fred Schaeffer's wife, Beverley, grew up in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. Beverley's grandfather, Hyman Kaplan, emigrated from Vilna, Lithuania in 1907, and after a few years in New York, moved to Toronto. Shortly afterwards he became the first Jew to settle in Kirkland Lake in 1914.
In the 1920s the Jewish community in Kirkland Lake built a permanent synagogue, and acquired the aron kodesh of eastern European design, its lamps, railings, pews and reader’s desk, from the disbanded Ukrainishe Shul in Montreal. In the 1970s the Kirkland Lake Synagogue disbanded and Fred and Beverly Schaeffer acquired the aron kodesh, all of its furnishings, the ner tamid and the parochet. They generously donated these Jewish artifacts to Beth Tikvah Synagogue, Toronto, in 1988, in memory of Isadore Kaplan, father of Beverly Schaeffer and Erich Schaeffer, father of Fred Schaeffer.
Fred, married Beverley in Toronto. Like many children from Kirkland Lake, Beverley had moved to the city to attend university. Fred and Beverley are keen collectors of Canadian art. He is a retired civil engineer and a former chairman of the Canadian art historical committee at the AGO.
Kirkland Lake (Ont.)
AC 024: Side A
0.14: Fred discusses the first Jews to settle in Northern Ontario in the area around Krugerdorf/Engelhart. He mentions Edith Atkinson (née Martin) as a good primary source of information. Edith’s father, a Russian Jew who came to Canada via Scotland was employed by Temagami and Northern Ontario Railway to bring Russian Jews to work on the railroad.
1.11: Atkinson is related to Atkins and Etkins families.
2.25: Jewish families received land patents in the area of Krugerdorf (north of Engelhart).
2.44: Kurtz family started a hotel in Engelhart in 1908.
3.07: Mentions some of the earliest Jewish settlers. Gurevitch, Korman, Martin, Henerovsky, Purkiss
4.18: Women farmed during the week while the men worked on the railroad. Men came home on weekend.
5.05: Mentions a diary written by Mr. Martin, Edith Atkinson’s father.
5.42: Earliest records in Jewish cemetery in Krugerdorf were 1906. Relates a story involving a canoe accident. Tells a brief history of the cemetery.
8.00: Railway started to develop in 1908/9 with the opening of the mines in Timmins. Many Jews followed the railroad.
8.45: Mentions that the Purkiss family opened a chain of stores in every town that opened.
9.25: Mentions that the Bucavetsky family was well-known in Timmins.
9.58: Jews had settled in Cochrane.
10.16: First Rabbi in Timmins was Shulman.
11.15: Fred discusses early community organizations. One synagogue on a farm in Krugerdorf area. One synagogue in Engelhart that burnt down. Synagogue in Kirkland Lake built in 1926. Minyans were held in Cochrane and Ansonville (1918/19). Timmins synagogue dates back to 1910/12.
17.15: Fred describes Iroquois Falls as an Abitibi company town. Jews who ran businesses lived in nearby Ansonville.
18.02: Fred notes that there were many prominent Jews in Northern Ontario. He names several and describes their positions. (e.g. Dave Korman as Mayor of Engelhart, Rothschild was alderman in Cochrane, Barnie (?) Nasoff was on council and was Reeve of Ansonville, Max Kaplan Kirkland Lake council, Nicky Korman was Mayor).
21.11: Fred relates anecdotes about Roza Brown, the first Jew in Swastika / Kirkland area.
23.36: Fred relates anecdotes about Hyman and Max Kaplan (brothers-in-law) who ran businesses in Kirkland Lake.
25.26: Rabbi Rabinowitch was a long-standing rabbi in Kirkland Lake.
27.26: Discusses the demise /closure of the synagogue in Kirkland Lake. Remained open until 1979. Last Rosh HaShana services were held in 1977.
28.05: Discusses the situation with the Timmins Jewish community.
30.05: Discusses the plight of a poor Jewish family, the Mallins.
AC 024: Side B
0.15: Fred suggests some reference material. “Northland Post” – good source for info about Jewish community in Northern Ontario. “Silverland” – book that describes Kurt’s Hotel. Special edition of a newspaper that published an article on the history of the Jewish community.
1.48: The Jews of the North have themselves as self-sufficient community during the 1920s, 30s and 40s. They were represented in the first Jewish Congress.
3.33: Fred notes that there was a Jewish presence in most towns in Northern Ontario. He suggest that Haileybury may have been the exception due to antisemitic sentiments.
4.10: Mentions a fire in Haileybury in 1916/17 and the Jewish contribution to fire relief.
4.25: Relates an anecdote re. Hyman Kaplan and Haileybury.
5.48: Describes the location of a few small communities (Elk Lake, Charlton)
In this clip, Fred Schaeffer and Stephen Speisman discuss some of the earliest synagogues established in Northern Ontario.
In this clip, Fred Schaeffer relates colourful anecdotes about the first Jewish settler in the Swastika-Kirkland area, Roza Brown.