Thelma Harris Rose was born in 1922 in Toronto. Her parents were Samuel Aaron Harris (1888-1982) and Rose Geldzaeler Harris (1892-1966). Thelma had one sibling, Sydney Harris (1917-2009). Samuel Aaron’s parents, Samuel (1869-1936) and Sarah Ruben Harris (1869-1940) immigrated to North America from Lithuania and Belarus respectively during the 1880s. They met in Michigan and married in 1892 in Detroit. The couple raised Sarah’s son from a prior relationship, Samuel Aaron, and had two more boys, William (1895-1955) and Louis (1906-1986). The Harris family moved to Toronto around 1900 and opened up the first Jewish delicatessen in the city at 233 Queen Street West. They constructed a purpose-built deli across the street from that location and relocated to the new shop at 178 Queen St. West in 1910. A couple of years later, Samuel purchased the tobacco store next door to their business, operating it from around 1913 until his death. Samuel Aaron worked with his parents in the deli for a number of years, and after marrying Rose in 1916, he ventured into the clothing industry and later sales. His brothers William and Louis went on to become successful local doctors and respectively married Tillie Shayne and Helen Gallander.
Rose’s parents, Yetta Shumer Geldzaeler (1870-1952) and Mark Geldzaeler (1862-1932), hailed from Galicia and married in Toronto in 1890. The Geldzaeler’s had 5 children who survived to adulthood: Ben (1891-1974) who married Hortense Cohen; Rose (1892-1966); Rachel (1897-1941) who married Isidore W. Ruskin; Alfred (1901-1918); and Frances (1907-2002) who married Simon Ramm. Tragically, Solomon (1899-1902) passed away as a young child and Alfred perished of the Spanish flu during the great pandemic at the end of the First World War. Mark was a religious instructor who also served as the assistant chazan and the shamus at Holy Blossom Synagogue on Bond Street. During that period, the family lived in accommodations behind the shul. Because of his religious expertise and position, Mark Geldzaeler commanded tremendous respect within the Jewish community.
Rose and Samuel Aaron Harris lived at 107 Yorkville Avenue, across from the early Mount Sinai Hospital. Thelma married Albert Rose (1917-1996) in June, 1942. The couple eventually had two sons and a daughter. Thelma earned an undergraduate degree and an M.Ed. at the University of Toronto. Albert was gold medallist in Political Science and Economics at the University of Toronto and pursued his graduate studies at the University of Illinois, receiving his PhD in macroeconomics and statistics in 1942. He then enlisted in the Canadian Army and served in the Intelligence Corps until he was demobbed at the end of 1945. During most of his career, he was a professor and later Director of the School of Social Work at the University of Toronto, ultimately becoming the first Dean of their Faculty of Social Work. Albert Rose was an expert in and advocate for public housing and social welfare, as well as a prominent community leader who was actively involved in variety of municipal and Jewish organizations.
Thelma’s older brother, Sydney Harris, completed a law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School, and married Enid Perlman in November, 1949. The couple eventually had two sons. Sydney engaged in the general practice of law for three decades before being appointed Judge of the Ontario Provincial Court (Criminal Division) in 1976. He retired in 1992 but went on to serve as a Small Claims Court Judge, referee for the LSUC and lay appointee of Council for the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors. He was also active in Jewish causes and organizations, primarily the Canadian Jewish Congress, of which he was national president from 1974 to 1977, and the Canadian Council of Reform Congregations. He was also a civil liberties activist who promoted legislation aimed at eradicating hate speech and literature, along with capital punishment. Sydney Harris was also an active supporter of the civil rights movement in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.
For more details about the many families documented within this fonds along with their respective businesses, careers and achievements, please consult the biographical and published reference materials in box 8.
The records in the fonds were assembled by the donor, Jeff Rose, from accumulations created and/or collected by Rose and Samuel Aaron Harris, Thelma Rose, Sydney and Enid Harris, Ruthe Rosenberg, Frances Ramm, Alfreda Henry, Tillie Harris, Marion Harris with permission, and by the donor himself. The donor hired Heritage Professionals to conduct the archival work – appraisal, selection, processing, preservation, arrangement and description – of the records. There was some specialized preservation and digitization work conducted on the photo albums to protect them and enhance their longevity. Finally, two conservators were commissioned to produce around ten high quality archival prints from the negatives and repair one of the artifacts.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of records relating to the Rose, Harris, and Geldzaeler families, and some of their connected branches, including the Perlman, Ruskin, Ruben, Shumer, Shayne, Spiegel, and Rothbart families. The fonds is mainly comprised of loose photographs, photo prints, negatives and two photo albums documenting the different branches of the donor’s family. There are also some textual records and thirteen artifacts. One of the artifacts has been housed with the textual records. The remaining twelve artefacts are located in boxes 6 and 7. The two photo albums have been scanned for preservation purposes and are available in digital form.
The photographs mainly document the Harris and Geldzaeler families, and to a lesser extent, other branches of the family. The images capture the families’ lives and activities in Toronto and surrounding areas from the late nineteenth century to the early 2000s. The visuals include individual and family portraits, photobooth strips, and informal images of the family engaged in a variety of activities. Examples of the activities include: family get togethers, children playing outdoors, outings to the park or other Toronto locales, graduations, and military images. There are also many images capturing family vacations to the cottage, Bobcaygeon, Wasaga Beach, Niagara Falls, and Washington D.C. Finally, the fonds includes a photograph of Sydney Harris with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Chicago. Some of the files in the fonds contain negatives that were mostly grouped with and correspond to the photographs.
The fonds is arranged into twelve series: 1. Harris family, 2. Geldzaeler family, 3. Ruben family, 4. Shayne family, 5. Shumer family, 6. Perlman family, 7. Ruskin family, 8. Rose family, 9. Spiegel family, 10. Photo Albums, 11. Artifacts, 12. Reference materials. The first nine series are arranged by family and the last three pertain to special types of materials within the fonds. The sub-series are arranged by individual family member, couple, or family within each branch of the family.
ACCESS RESTRICTION NOTE: The records are open to the public except for series 1-3, file 4; and series 1-4, file 2. Researchers interested in viewing these files require permission from the donor. The photo albums are restricted for preservation purposes. The albums have been digitized and researchers can review the PDF copies of those records. There is also a family portrait of the Geldzaeler children in series 2-1, file 2 that is encased in glass and very fragile. It has been preserved and protected and a corresponding copy print is available and can be viewed by the public.
ATTRIBUTION NOTE: When citing records from this fonds, the full name of the fonds – Thelma Harris Rose Family Fonds – must be used by all parties and for all purposes as part of the reference.
Conditional Access. Researchers must receive permission from the donor prior to accessing the records. Please contact the OJA for more information.
The records are in good condition except for a small number of photographs that have some mirroring and tears. Some of the metal artifacts are also slightly tarnished.
For other fonds and records documenting Sydney Harris, please see accessions 1976-7-1, 2015-4-3, 2008-8-10, 2008-11-14, 2016-3-56 and fonds 17 (CJC) and fonds 75 (JVS). For records relating to Mark Geldzaeler, Yetta Shumer Geldzaeler, Benjamin Geldzaeler and the Shumer family, see accession 1977-2-1 (items 1229, 1228, 1230, 1231, 1232). For additional records documenting Mark Geldzaeler's writing, see accession 2014-6-5. For records relating to the Harris family there are photo albums in accession 1986-7-6 and a photo of the Harris Delicatessen in accession 1982-6-5 (item 3283). For documentation relating to Albert Rose’s activities within the Jewish community one can consult the following fonds: 9 (JIAS), 14 (Baycrest), 61 (JCC), 67 (UJWF) and 75 (JVS). Finally, there is also a portrait of Albert Rose from the 1940s in item 748.
The fonds is arranged in series, sub-series and files. Artifacts are described at the item level.