10 photographs : b&w and col. ; 21 x 26 cm or smaller
David Vanek (1915-2008) was born on a farm in Whitchurch Township, York County, Ontario in 1915. He was the sixth of seven children born to Jacob and Jesse Vanek, Jewish-Russian immigrants from the Ukraine who immigrated to Canada in 1913. The family lived in the Newmarket-Oak Ridges area, where they owned a farm and the Vanek Grocery and Confectionary Store in Oak Ridges. The family also owned Cedarholm Park in Lake Wilcox, which had a bandstand and cottages and sold refreshments. They opened the park specifically for Jews who were being excluded from other nearby social venues. The family also lived in Toronto.
Vanek completed his elementary school education at Annette Street Public School and attended Richmond Hill High School and Harbord Collegiate. He was admitted to the honour law course at the University of Toronto. In 1936, he graduated with a bachelor of arts in honour law and went on to law school at Osgoode Hall. While in law school he worked for Carswell’s Canadian Law Abridgement and was editor of the Obiter Dicta student publication at Osgoode Hall. He received his LLB in 1939.
During the Second World War Vanek served in the Canadian Intelligence Corps and Field Security in England from 1943 to 1945. Following his military service he returned to Toronto where he tried private practice briefly before beginning a new career as a lecturer in the newly created Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto. He taught a variety of subjects, including legal bibliography, real property, and public international law.
A community activist, Vanek was the founder of the Lawrence Manor Ratepayers Association. In 1963, he ran for the Ontario Provincial Legislature as a Conservative candidate, but failed to win the seat. He was the founder of the Credit Counselling Service of Metropolitan Toronto, which was established in 1965. Vanek was also actively involved in the new Reform congregation Temple Sinai and served as its third president.
In September 1968, Vanek was appointed to the magistrates' court. A few months later, the Provincial Courts Act came into being and he became a judge of the provincial court, criminal division. Vanek presided over and wrote judgements in many significant cases including Weightman and Cunningham, involving the residual power of a trial judge to stop unfair prosecution, and Squires, involving the lawful exclusion of cameras from the courtroom. His best known case was that of Susan Nelles, a nurse who was charged with the death of four babies at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children in the early 1980s. He also served as president of the Ontario Provincial Judges' Association. In 1989, after twenty-one years on the bench, David Vanek retired. A decade later he published his autobiography, Fulfilment : Memoirs of a Criminal Court Judge, which documents his life and career.
David Vanek married Joyce Lester in 1942 and the couple had three children. Vanek died in 2008.
The records were donated to the Ontario Jewish Archives by David Vanek in July 2000. The records were used to help with the researching of his autobiography.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of textual records and graphic material that document Vanek's family history and career as a prominent lawyer and provincial court judge in Ontario. The fonds includes family records from Russia, newspaper articles, correspondence and documentation relating to his military service during the Second World War, and press clippings and photographs of his family and community activities. The fonds has been arranged into the following series: Personal records, Military service records, Occupational records, and Community organizations.