Ontario, Canada - Hand-painted Yiddish Sign Endures, Reflecting A Bygone Era In Old Toronto
Ontario, Canada - The last vestige of Jewish life at Toronto’s 29 Baldwin Street, an old Yiddish sign hawking “butter, cheese, cream, and eggs,” has been spared thanks to a new Taiwanese business owner at that location, reports the Toronto Star (http://on.thestar.com/1Hq61sW).
The sign marks an era that began in 1910 when Jewish immigrants from Europe began establishing shops in the neighborhood, including on nearby Cecil Street. By the 1950s, the Jewish community was thriving, and chose to relocate to better areas north of the City until no Jewish businesses remained on Baldwin Street.
The Yiddish sign, hand-painted on the window at 29 Baldwin Street originally belonged to Mandel’s Creamery, and the message remained intact for decades even after John’s Italian Caffe moved into the spot. John’s recently closed, and the new tenant, a bubble-tea shop, moved in. Mandel’s sign was nowhere to be seen, “so we panicked,” said Dara Solomon, who directs the Ontario Jewish Archives. “It’s the one sport where people can actually stand and see the Yiddish, rather than just being shown it in photos,” she said.
After many failed attempts, Solomon finally met with the new tea-bubble shop owner, Daniel Li, to inquire about the fate of the sign. Li said contractors had partially removed one letter, but the sign still remained mostly undamaged beneath a decal for Li’s store.
Li said he did not know how important the sign was, but after meeting with Solomon, he has agreed to “protect this sign.” He said he will either leave the window where it is, reinstall it somewhere inside his tea shop, or donate it to the Ontario Jewish Archives. But the idea of having the Jewish artifact inside his Taiwanese business appealed to him most of all. “Canadian can mean any type of culture, so . . . I think that would be a great opportunity to have this be part of our story,” Li said.
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