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Faces of our Jewish community

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Ferdinande Jacobs

According to historians, he was likely not only the first Jew in Canada, but he also lived in the area that became Manitoba, working for the Hudson's Bay Company starting in 1732.

 

Harry Weixelbaum

He was a hotel keeper in West Lynne, located across the Red River from Emerson. He became the province's first Jewish alderman in July 1882.

 

Louis Vineberg

He was a Winnipeg businessman who was appointed justice of the peace in 1883.

 

Abraham Albert Heaps

Born in England in 1885, he came to Canada in 1910. He was a member of the Social Democratic Party and was elected to Winnipeg's city council from 1917 to 1925. He was on the Winnipeg General Strike committee. He was arrested and charged with seditious libel in 1919 and defended himself successfully. He was elected MP for Winnipeg North and later became a CCF MP. With J.S. Woodsworth, he helped introduce Canada's old age pension. He died in 1954.

 

Louis Slotin

He was born in Winnipeg and went to the University of Manitoba where he won the gold medal in chemistry and physics. He received his PhD in biochemistry at London University and became a research associate at the University of Chicago, working with an atom-smashing cyclotron. He worked on the Manhattan Project, the top-secret project that developed the atomic bomb, at Los Alamos during the Second World War and became an expert at assembling the core of atomic bombs. He died in 1946 a few days after an experiment went wrong and he received a fatal dose of radiation. He is credited with saving seven fellow scientists by stopping the experiment. His body was flown back to Winnipeg and buried here. There is a park with a plaque named in his honour at the end of Luxton Avenue at the Red River.

 

Max Steinkopf

He was born in Prague in 1881 and came to Canada as a child. He went to school in Morden and later graduated at Manitoba College in 1902. He studied law with a law firm and, when called to the bar in 1905, became the first Jewish lawyer on the Prairies. He was president of the Canada National Securities Company, City Dairy Company and Bonded Investment Ltd. He was president of the Winnipeg Talmah Torah and Winnipeg Zionist Council and served on the Winnipeg School Board.

 

Maitland Steinkopf

Son of Max, he was born in 1912 and graduated in law from the University of Manitoba in 1936. He was elected MLA for River Heights in 1962 and was minister of Public Utilities. He was chancellor of Brandon University from 1967 to 1970 and chairman of the Manitoba Centennial Corporation from 1963 until he died in 1970.

 

Joe Zuken

Born in Ukraine in 1912, he came here with his family two years later and grew up in the North End. He was part of the first graduating class of the I.L. Peretz School in 1925. He graduated as a lawyer from the University of Manitoba in 1936, but couldn't find a job for a few years because of his Communist affiliations. He finally opened his own law office. He defended people stripped of their civil liberties during the Second World War, lobbied for welfare rights and helped citizen-advocacy organizations. He was elected to the Winnipeg School Board from 1942 to 1962, then was a city councillor from 1962 until he retired in 1983. He was inducted into the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt in 1983. He died in 1986. Joe Zuken Heritage Park in Point Douglas is named for him.

 

Sam Freedman

He was born in Ukraine in 1908 and at the age of three came to Winnipeg with his parents. He graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1929 and entered the university's law school. He worked with Max Steinkopf's law firm until setting up his own firm in 1946. He was president of the Manitoba Bar Association. He was appointed to the Court of King's Bench in 1952 and elevated to the Court of Appeal in 1960, serving as chief justice from 1971 to 1983. He was president of the YMHA, chairman of the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University and chancellor of the University of Manitoba from 1959 to 1968. He was inducted into the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt in 1968 and the Order of Canada in 1984. He died in 1993.

 

Leibl Hershfield

He was born in Ukraine in 1909 and came to Winnipeg as a baby. After high school, he began working at the Winnipeg Film Exchange before becoming athletic director at the YMHA. He was an outfielder when his team ,Branch 141 Ukrainian Legion, won the western Canadian championship. He founded the city's first 60-plus slo-pitch league and played several other sports. He was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 1981, was named Jewish Athlete of the 20th century in 2000 and in 2002 was named to the Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame. He died in 1999.

 

Sol Kanee

Born in Saskatchewan, he co-founded the law firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman in Winnipeg, found the Kanee Grain Company and Soo Line Flour Mills, was chairman of Trans-Air and the Business Development Bank of Canada and a director of the Bank of Canada. He was on the executive of the World Jewish Congress in New York, as well as the Canadian Jewish Congress, Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the United Way. He was inducted into the Order of Canada and the Order of Manitoba in 1977. He died in 2007.

 

Sam Katz

Born in Israel, he came to Winnipeg with his parents as an infant. After graduating with an economics degree from the University of Manitoba, he opened a clothing store in Brandon. His company, Showtime Productions, brought concert acts such as Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones to town. He bought the Winnipeg Goldeyes in 1994 and built a baseball stadium a few years later. He was elected mayor in 2004, the city's first Jewish mayor. He has been honoured with the Order of Manitoba.

 

Philip Kives

He was born in Saskatchewan in 1929, after his parents, who were from Eastern Europe, were relocated by the Jewish Colonization Organization to Turkey and then to Western Canada. He left the family farm in 1957 and came to Winnipeg where he worked various jobs, including taxi driver and door-to-door vacuum salesman. He made his first television commercial in 1962 to sell a Teflon non-stick frying pan and sales took off. A few years later, he founded K-Tel, which sold 28 million Miracle Brushes, 10 million copies of the album Hooked on Classics and more than 500 million other albums around the world. He was inducted into the Canadian Professional Sales Hall of Fame.

 

Abe Arnold

He was born in Montreal and came to Winnipeg in 1965 as the western regional director of the Canadian Jewish Congress. He was pivotal in the creation of the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties and was its first executive director. He was the first executive director of the Jewish Historical Society of Western Canada when it was founded in 1968. He was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2003. He died in 2011.

 

Israel (Izzy) Asper

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Israel (Izzy) Asper (THE WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Photo Store

Harold Buchwald

A lawyer, he was born in Winnipeg in 1928. He graduated from the University of Manitoba with a law degree and was called to the Bar in 1952. He was a founder of the law firm Buchwald Asper Henteleff and was president of the Manitoba Bar Association and the Law Society of Manitoba. He served on the boards of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, the Health Sciences Centre Foundation and the Canadian Consumer Council. He was the first executive director of the Arts Stabilization Manitoba Inc. He was named to the Order of Canada in 2003. He died in 2008.

 

Israel (Izzy) Asper

He was born in Minnedosa in 1932. He became a lawyer and by the early 1970s he was leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party and an MLA. He bought KCND, a small TV station in Pembina, North Dakota and turned it into CKND and then Canwest Global Communications. He was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1995, the Order of Manitoba in 2000 and the Winnipeg Citizens Hall of Fame in 1999. When he died in 2003, he was working towards the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

 

Gail Asper

The daughter of Izzy, she was a director of Canwest Global Communications and president of the Canwest Global Foundation and the Asper Foundation. After her father's death, she worked toward building the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. She was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2009.

 

Harold Buchwald

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Harold Buchwald

Marjorie Blankstein

She volunteered for numerous organizations. One of the first was chairing a child-care committee for the Jewish Child and Family Service in 1963, which created a Group Home for Boys. She was president of the National Council of Jewish Women. She set up a community meeting which resulted in the establishment of Klinic. She was the first woman elected as president of the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council, and she was campaign chairwoman of the United Way in 1994. She was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1983.

 

Saul Cherniack

Born in Winnipeg in 1917, he was one of three Canadian lawyers who represented the interests of interned Japanese-Canadians. Later, he was elected a Winnipeg School Board trustee, a councillor for Winnipeg Beach, an alderman on Winnipeg city council and a councillor for the Metropolitan Corporation of Greater Winnipeg. He was elected an MLA in 1962 and in 1969 became finance minister. He was the minister responsible for amalgamating Winnipeg into Unicity in 1971. He was board chairman of Manitoba Hydro. He was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1994 and the Order of Manitoba in 2002.

 

Marjorie Blankstein

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Marjorie Blankstein

Hymie Weinstein

He was born in Saskatchewan to parents who left Poland before the Second World War. After the family moved to Winnipeg in 1957, he attended high school then studied law at the University of Manitoba. A prominent criminal defence counsel, he also served as chairman of the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre.

 

Allan Blye

Born in Winnipeg, he became an actor, comedy writer and producer. He helped create Elvis Presley's 1968 comeback concert and produced the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, the Andy Williams Show and That's My Mama. He was inducted into the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt.

 

Hymie Weinstein

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Hymie Weinstein (C. PROCAYLO)

Monty (Halperin) Hall

He was born in Winnipeg and graduated from the University of Manitoba with a science degree. He started working in radio in Winnipeg and then moved to Toronto before heading to New York. He began hosting and guest hosting game shows before starting Let's Make a Deal in 1963. He was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1988.

 

Yude Henteleff

A lawyer, for decades he has helped children and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities by donating thousands of hours of legal work to help fight discrimination. He was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1997.

 

David Matas

He was born in Winnipeg, received his BA at the University of Manitoba, his MA at Princeton University and his law degree at the University of Oxford in England. He became a barrister in England before being called to the Manitoba Bar in 1971. He has been senior legal counsel for B'nai Brith Canada. He has done human rights work with Amnesty International, Manitoba Association of Rights and Liberties and Canadian Helsinki Watch Group. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 and was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2008.

 

Harry Medovy

He was a world-renowned pediatrician who began campaigning in the 1950s to stop young people from starting to smoke. He was one of the first doctors to begin telling parents to prevent their children from being poisoned with household products and warned people in rural areas that the high concentration of nitrate in shallow wells was causing blue babies. He was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1990. He died in 1995.

 

Dr Charles Bernstein

He graduated from the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Medicine in 1985 and completed his fellowship in gastroenterology at UCLA in 1991, where he became associated director of its Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center. Returning to Winnipeg in 1993, he established the IBD Clinical and Research Centre which has become a world leader into inflammatory bowel disease.

 

Harry Walsh

He was born in 1913 and called to the Bar in 1937. He worked as a criminal lawyer until he died in 2011, one of the longest serving lawyers ever in Canada. He worked to abolish the death penalty in Canada. He co-founded the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba and was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2010.

 

Marsha Cowan

She was born in Winnipeg and grew up in the North End. She has served as president of Jewish Child and Family Services, vice-president of the National Council of Jewish Women, campaign chairwoman for the building of the Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre and president of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. She is currently executive director of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba.

 

Dr Charles Bernstein

He graduated from the University of Manitoba’s faculty of medicine in 1985 and completed his fellowship in gastroenterology at UCLA in 1991, where he became associate director of its Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center. Returning to Winnipeg in 1993, he established the IBD Clinical and Research Centre, which has become a world leader in inflammatory bowel disease.

 

Harry Walsh

He was born in 1913 and called to the bar in 1937. He worked as a criminal lawyer until he died in 2011, one of the longest-serving lawyers ever in Canada. He worked to abolish the death penalty in Canada. He cofounded the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba and was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2010.

 

Marsha Cowan

She was born in Winnipeg and grew up in the North End. She has served as president of the Jewish Child and Family Service, vicepresident of the National Council of Jewish Women, campaign chairwoman for the building of the Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre and president of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. She is currently executive director of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba.

 

Sybil Shack

She was born in Winnipeg in 1911, graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1929 and received her teaching certificate two years later. She didn’t get a teaching job for two years because of the Great Depression so she wrote articles for the Western Jewish News and the Labour Council’s newspaper. She later joined the Winnipeg School Division and was a principal at Lord Roberts, River Heights, Kelvin and Isaac Brock. She earned a national reputation in the 1950s for her educational programs on CBC radio and wrote several books including Armed with a Primer and The Two Thirds Minority. She was president of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, national president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, honorary president of the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties and sat on several boards, including the United Way and the Social Planning Council. She was inducted into the Order of Canada, the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt and the Winnipeg Citizens Hall of Fame. She died in 2004.

 

Max Freedman

He was born in 1914, brother of Sam Freedman. Because his family couldn’t afford to send him to university, he read as many books as he could at the University of Manitoba library for four years. He began writing for the Edmonton Bulletin and joined the

Winnipeg Free Press as Ottawa correspondent after the Second World War. He became the paper’s Washington correspondent and then returned to Winnipeg as its senior editorial writer. He joined the Manchester Guardian and became its Washington correspondent in 1953. He started a syndicated column with the Chicago Daily News and at one point it was carried by more than 100 papers. He died in 1980.

 

Monty Hall

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Monty Hall

John Hirsch

Born in Hungary, he came to Canada in 1947 and went to the University of Manitoba. He did puppet theatre before founding Theatre 77 with Tom Hendry, which later merged with the Manitoba Little Theatre and became the Manitoba Theatre Centre.

He became the new theatre’s first artistic director. He moved on to be co-director of the Stratford Festival and then head of television drama at the CBC. He became artistic director of the Stratford Festival in 1980. He died in 1989 and was inducted posthumously into the Winnipeg Citizens Hall of Fame.

 

Ron Stern

Born and raised in Winnipeg, he practised law for almost 15 years before devoting himself full-time to his business interests. He is a partner in Western Glove Works, founder and president of Stern Partners and chairman and chief executive officer for some of the group’s operating companies. He is also chairman of FP Canadian Newspapers Limited Partnership, which owns the Winnipeg Free Press and the Brandon Sun. He lives in Vancouver, where he also has served on many community and corporate boards including the Vancouver Airport Authority, the Vancouver General Hospital, the Vancouver Symphony Society and the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy.

 

Sam Bronfman

He was born in Russia in 1889 and came to Canada with his family, going first to Saskatchewan, then moving to Brandon.

He later moved to Thunder Bay where he bought a hotel with his brother. He bought the Bell Hotel in Winnipeg in 1912 and later got into the liquor business, first selling it by mail order. He moved to Montreal and founded the Distillers Corporation, later buying Joseph E. Seagram and Sons Ltd., to create the Seagram Company. His company became the world’s largest liquor-distilling firm. He was president of the Canadian Jewish Congress from 1938 to 1962 and honorary vice-president of the World Jewish Congress. He was inducted into the Order of Canada and the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt. He died in 1971.

 

David Steinberg

He was born in Winnipeg and initially studied theology in Israel before going to the University of Chicago. While there, he saw comedian Lenny Bruce perform and decided to become a comedian. He joined The Second City company in Chicago. His controversial comedic sermons helped get the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour yanked off the air. He appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson more than 130 times, second only to Bob Hope, and was the youngest person ever to guest host, doing it 12 times. He has directed episodes of Seinfeld, Friends, Mad About You and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

 

Bob Silver

He went to the University of Manitoba before going into business in 1970. He has been the president of Western Glove Works since 1980 and is co-owner and director of Western Glove Works and Warehouse One. He is a partner of FP Canadian Newspapers Ltd.

Partnership, the owner of the Winnipeg Free Press. He has volunteered as co-chairman of the Premier’s Economic Advisory Council, chairman of the University of Manitoba’s Smart Park and Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg. He is being inducted into the Order of Manitoba in July.

 

Albert Cohen

He was born in 1914, and with his five brothers created General Distributors (Gendis), which had exclusive Canadian rights for distributing Papermate pens. A chance spotting of an ad in Japan led to him getting the Canadian rights for Sony. Cohen and his brothers owned the SAAN and Metropolitan stores. He was past president of the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Winnipeg Clinic Research Institute. He was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1983.

He died in 2011.

 

Anne Ross

Born Channah Glaz in 1912 in Ukraine. The family moved to Winnipeg and changed its name to Glass. She attended both United College and the University of Manitoba before studying nursing at Winnipeg General Hospital and then psychiatric nursing in New York City. Her first job was as the only full-time staff member at the Mount Carmel Clinic. She stayed and rose to become executive director and transformed it into a broad-ranging community clinic with medical, social and educational services. She retired after 37 years in 1985 and promptly launched AGR Health Services to Seniors to address the needs of residents in the downtown.

She died in 1998.

 

John Hirsch

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John Hirsch

Mariam Bernstein

She is an actor and director and a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada.

She has directed several plays with the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre, including Death of a Salesman, as well as plays at the Manitoba Theatre Centre and Prairie Theatre Exchange. She was artistic director of the WJT from 2005 to 2007, and currently is the theatre’s artistic adviser.

 

Faye Settler

She was born in Winnipeg in 1916. She graduated from St. John’s High School. She was active in the Jewish community and was president of the Aliyah Chapter of Hadassah. She and her husband, Bert Settler, were founding members of the Rosh Pina Synagogue. She and her mother opened a small antique shop in 1948 and by the mid-50s, the Curiosity Shop had moved downtown, adding the Upstairs Gallery a decade later. She became interested in Inuit art, was part of a federal government task force on Inuit art in Frobisher Bay and helped develop the Inuit art collections at the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. She initiated the Gallery on the Avenue project showcasing the work of young artists in Portage Avenue storefronts. She died in 2004.

 

Adele Wiseman

She was born in Winnipeg in 1928, after her parents immigrated here from Ukraine. She went to St. John’s High School and the University of Manitoba before beginning work as a social worker.

She started writing on the side, publishing her first novel, The Sacrifice, in 1956. The book won the Governor General’s award for fiction. Her next novel, Crackpot, came out in 1974. She also wrote plays and essays. She was a friend of author Margaret Laurence and after their deaths, a book of their correspondence was published in 1997, Selected

Letters of Margaret Laurence and Adele Wiseman. She died in 1992.

 

 

Source: Winnipeg Free Press archives, Manitoba Historical Society, Jewish Foundation of Manitoba's Book of Endowment and Wikipedia.

-- Compiled by Kevin Rollason

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 26, 2012 J14

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