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Quebec, Canada - In Winnipeg in the 1930s and 1940s, Jews Were Considered Personae Non Gratae

Published on: May 8, 2009 12:59 PM
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file photoQuebec, Canada - There is no official record of how many times the sign “NO JEWS OR DOGS ALLOWED” was posted in Canada during the ‘30s and ‘40s. But historian Irving Abella asserts that it was spotted at “Halifax golf courses, outside hotels in the Laurentians and throughout the cottage areas of Ontario, the lake country of Manitoba and the vacation lands of British Columbia.” A popular alternative, hardly less pointed, read: “FOR CHRISTIANS ONLY.”

The Lake Winnipeg resort at Sandy Hook had been established and promoted in 1912 as a “Jew free” area. In 1925, B’nai Brith purchased a Sandy Hook property for a children’s camp. Some of the locals were appalled; it was bad enough that Jews had made nearby Winnipeg Beach their own.

In 1929, a petition circulated in Sandy Hook, the neighbouring town of Gimli and the surrounding rural municipality to restrict such camps in the district. The petition had been initiated by the owner of a nearby resort who boldly displayed in front of his property a sign that read: “FOR GENTILES ONLY.” The petition was eventually quashed at a rural municipality council meeting, where B’nai Brith received much-appreciated vocal support from J. T. Thorson, a Manitoba member of Parliament and former dean of the University of Manitoba Law School. Thorson, noted the Jewish Post, “was not afraid to face the issue openly as anti-Jewish discrimination and to attack it on that ground.”

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The incident at Sandy Hook typified the attitude toward Jews in Manitoba during the interwar years and after. Prejudice was endemic. Few Jewish children who grew up in this era were not at one time or another accosted merely for being Jewish.

Born in 1921 in Winnipeg, Monte Halperin, later to be celebrated as Monty Hall of the television show Let’s Make a Deal, was a small and sickly child. When his family moved to the non-Jewish area of Elmwood, Hall had to attend Lord Selkirk School. “The kids in that area were rougher and tougher than any I had experienced,” he recalled, “and they took turns beating the hell out of me.”

Likewise, lawyer Yude Henteleff, who grew up on his family farm in St. Vital and attended Ecole St. Germain, was regularly chased and beaten, until he fought back with a stick. He also recalls walking down the street with his father: “A francophone kid would approach us and say to my father, ‘Bonjour Juif,’ ‘Hello Jew,’ as if it was nothing.”

In 1934, Jewish veterans of the First World War felt compelled, in the face of rising anti-Semitism, to organize their own Legion branch, General Monash. And in 1948, when an 11-year-old Jewish boy wanted to become a member of the Puffin Ski Club, a Manitoba downhill skiing group that operated from the late-‘40s to the early-‘60s, his application was turned down. He and his parents were told that Jews could not join. The official responsible for membership explained that “Jews are aggressive and can take over the club.”

Quite simply, nothing had changed in the province in 50 years. In fact, the economic crisis of the ‘30s—which increased racism and made “foreigners” convenient scapegoats—and the rise of fascism and Nazism in Europe, almost made anti-Semitism respectable in Canada.

Anti-Semitism exacerbated the miserable economic situation. Jews could not win, no matter what they did. They were blamed for being greedy capitalists and scheming bankers who destroyed the economy; and they were blamed for being evil communists intent on taking over the world and destroying Western civilization. The fact that few of Canada’s major banks hired Jews to work as tellers, let alone appointed them as directors, was conveniently ignored. And though many Jews in Winnipeg and elsewhere were indeed communists, so, too, were Englishmen, Germans, Ukrainians, Poles and members of other ethnic groups. In both of these cases, the facts counted for little; merely making these accusations was sufficient for thousands of Canadians to believe that they were God’s honest truth.

From the Fascist party of Adrian Arcand in Quebec, whose organization boasted a membership of 80,000 at the height of its popularity, and William Aberhart’s Social Credit Party in Alberta, with its anti-Semitic financial conspiracy theories, to Nazi-style propaganda circulated in Winnipeg by William Whittaker’s Canadian Nationalist Party, Jews in Manitoba were faced with a daily barrage of prejudice and discriminatory obstacles.

Jobs for Jews were few, not only at Manitoba banks but also at insurance companies and department stores. Jewish doctors found it difficult to find internships at Winnipeg hospitals, and into the 1960s it was almost unheard of for a Jewish lawyer or accountant to apprentice at a non-Jewish firm. Winnipeg neighbourhoods like Tuxedo and Wildwood, beach resorts and sports and social clubs proudly advertised that they were “restricted”—a code word which everyone knew meant that Jews were personae non gratae.

The esteemed Manitoba Club, the social headquarters of the province’s elite since its establishment in 1874, “gained and deserved a reputation for anti-Semitism,” noted author Peter C. Newman. In 1968, grain trade executives James Richardson and Stewart Searle proposed the admittance of judge Samuel Freedman (who was until then the first Manitoba judge not to have received an invitation to join), lawyer Sol Kanee, then a director of the Bank of Canada, and Sony businessman Albert Cohen. But on principle Freedman declined the invitation and Kanee and Cohen, though warmer to the idea, did not pursue it. Architect Gerald Libling was the first Jew finally admitted, in 1972.

Two years later, and a century after it was founded, the club passed an anti-discrimination bylaw. Still, Jewish lawyers and businessmen did not rush to join. The histories of the Winnipeg Canoe Club, Winnipeg Winter Club, St. Charles Country Club and Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club all have similar anti-Jewish traditions.

In 1931, there were no Jewish professors at the University of Manitoba, no Jewish judges and no Jewish school principals—the first one was Charlotte Mass, who was named the principal of Florence Nightingale School in 1944. By 1946, the University of Manitoba had four Jewish professors on its staff.

In 1943, Laila Buchwald (later Kesselman), who was a Grade 11 student at Kelvin High School, wanted to work as a sales clerk at Eaton’s department store during the busy Christmas season. She and two non-Jewish friends applied together. Her two friends were hired immediately. When it came time for Laila’s interview, the lady meeting her was pleasant, yet told her as politely as possible that she could not hire her. “You know my dear,” the woman said, “I’m sorry, but Eaton’s doesn’t hire Jews. Our customers wouldn’t approve.” - Reprinted from Coming of Age: A History of the Jewish People of Manitoba by Allan Levine. Published this month by the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada in association with Heartland Associates. For further information, visit www.jhcwc.org.



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1

 May 08, 2009 at 12:20 PM Missing the GOOD OLD DAYS Says:

Oy! I miss the good old days when everyone was honest. It was better then. Much better. We Jews did not delude ourselves into believing that they like us. We knew were we stood, and behaved accordingly.
We were then never shocked at anti-semitism. We expected it.
We were not shocked every time a Jewish expectation was not met, we never expected certain things.

That was good, because it kept the Jews in the Jewish towns, and the Gentiles who were so anti-semitic, safely behind those signs. No fighting. No trouble.

And... the most important thing, it helped Jews fight assimilation.

The worst thing that ever happened to modern Jews was NOT the European Holocaust. It was and is the modern Helenism, and complete assimilation which has captured the souls of so many precious Jews.

Hitler, Y"S, only murdered the bodies, but sent the neshamos to Gan Eden al kidush Hashem. Assimilation murders the very soul, and leaves only an empty body to bury or cremate, G-d forbid.

So, YES, those were the "Good Old Days"

2

 May 08, 2009 at 12:45 PM Yosele Pondrek Says:

Reply to #1  
Missing the GOOD OLD DAYS Says:

Oy! I miss the good old days when everyone was honest. It was better then. Much better. We Jews did not delude ourselves into believing that they like us. We knew were we stood, and behaved accordingly.
We were then never shocked at anti-semitism. We expected it.
We were not shocked every time a Jewish expectation was not met, we never expected certain things.

That was good, because it kept the Jews in the Jewish towns, and the Gentiles who were so anti-semitic, safely behind those signs. No fighting. No trouble.

And... the most important thing, it helped Jews fight assimilation.

The worst thing that ever happened to modern Jews was NOT the European Holocaust. It was and is the modern Helenism, and complete assimilation which has captured the souls of so many precious Jews.

Hitler, Y"S, only murdered the bodies, but sent the neshamos to Gan Eden al kidush Hashem. Assimilation murders the very soul, and leaves only an empty body to bury or cremate, G-d forbid.

So, YES, those were the "Good Old Days"

You are so right!

A chavrusa of mine, who recently passed away, told me that when his family arrived in the U.S. they settled in some remote midwest city. His father was a schoichet. He told me that there was only public schools in the area so his father sent him and his siblings to a Catholic school. He attributes that to his remaining frum. Had he gone to public school he said he may have assimilated and not ch"v remained frum. But in a completely goyish environment, he knew who he was!

3

 May 08, 2009 at 01:03 PM Missing the GOOD OLD DAYS Says Says:

Reply to #1  
Missing the GOOD OLD DAYS Says:

Oy! I miss the good old days when everyone was honest. It was better then. Much better. We Jews did not delude ourselves into believing that they like us. We knew were we stood, and behaved accordingly.
We were then never shocked at anti-semitism. We expected it.
We were not shocked every time a Jewish expectation was not met, we never expected certain things.

That was good, because it kept the Jews in the Jewish towns, and the Gentiles who were so anti-semitic, safely behind those signs. No fighting. No trouble.

And... the most important thing, it helped Jews fight assimilation.

The worst thing that ever happened to modern Jews was NOT the European Holocaust. It was and is the modern Helenism, and complete assimilation which has captured the souls of so many precious Jews.

Hitler, Y"S, only murdered the bodies, but sent the neshamos to Gan Eden al kidush Hashem. Assimilation murders the very soul, and leaves only an empty body to bury or cremate, G-d forbid.

So, YES, those were the "Good Old Days"

And, NO, I did not write the above to make light of the Holocaust. It was one of the worst times in Jewish History. It is a tragedy in which we all, me included, lost many loved ones.

But, the Assimilation that we have today, helped by the "appearance" of the goyim liking us, is the Holocaust of Assimilation... by far the worst tragedy that can happen to Judaisim..

And, talking about the great number of observant Jews we do have today, is a wonderful brocha, but... those neshamos... nebach, each precious Jewish sould which is lost to assimilation, and all those future generations....

4

 May 08, 2009 at 01:13 PM ShmuelZev Says:

If you want to look for dirt, you dont need to go beyond our own borders. There is ample evidence of the hate and discrimination present in the US during those years. If you are looking for evidence that we have not been liked or accepted, you should first start with the rule that "Esav Sone Yaakov". More importantly however, I would point out that many survivors and pre-WWII Jews owe their lives to the fact that it was usually easier to get into Canada than the US. So notwithstanding that you may find early and continuous evidence of Anti-Semitism in Canada, at least their immigration policies allowed many Jews to escape.

5

 May 08, 2009 at 02:09 PM Anonymous Says:

I get a kick out of the headline:"...in the 1930's and 1940's..." Like its any different today?

6

 May 08, 2009 at 02:07 PM Anonymous Says:

It happened in the US too. In US army uniform, my father saw such signs in Miami, in a hotel.

7

 May 08, 2009 at 02:41 PM chaim Says:

i still remmember in the 1950's growing up in montreal,there was a hotel in st.agathe
which had a sign'no jews and dogs alowed,
but of course a few years later the hotel went bankrupt,and guess who wound up buying it,yes you guessed right

8

 May 08, 2009 at 03:42 PM PMO Says:

You people really think that antisemitism exists today the way it did then? Such fools. Go back and READ. Read the stories that happened back then. It is nothing like it is today. People today (as a whole) are far more accepting of yidden than before. There is no place I can't go because I'm Jewish. There is no hotel or anything that has ever treated me differently because of my yarmulke!

Every instance of recent antisemitism I see in the news is the direct result of some moron's own actions. In general, it has nothing to do with antisemitism and more to do with hatred of that one individual for being an idiot... for not using common sense.


A good example is that lady in Monsey complaining on the news about shechita in the yard. Yid or not, I would have done the same thing! It is not antisemitism... it is "anti" the group of morons who had such little respect for their community that they went and did this in the first place. Had they been pagans slaugthering some animal for some ritual, it would have caused the same uproar!

Far too many people just yell "ANTISEMITISM" every time someone has a problem with a yid... regardless of who is right or wrong. And to those people I say "SHUT UP!".

Our grandparents' generation encountered FAR more antisemitism than we do today. We are FAR more accepted than our grandparents were and by denying it, you minimize the incredible struggles that they went through. You minimize the fight that they fought for YOU and all generations of American Jews to come.

For those of you who continue to do stupid things, one chillul H" after another, and continue to disrespect everyone else around you.... you deserve every bit of hatred that is thrown at you because you asked for it.

9

 May 08, 2009 at 05:00 PM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #4  
ShmuelZev Says:

If you want to look for dirt, you dont need to go beyond our own borders. There is ample evidence of the hate and discrimination present in the US during those years. If you are looking for evidence that we have not been liked or accepted, you should first start with the rule that "Esav Sone Yaakov". More importantly however, I would point out that many survivors and pre-WWII Jews owe their lives to the fact that it was usually easier to get into Canada than the US. So notwithstanding that you may find early and continuous evidence of Anti-Semitism in Canada, at least their immigration policies allowed many Jews to escape.

...And some people try to tell us that everything negative is the fault of the Tziyoinim! At that time and place there were no tziyoinim, yet the the hate and disdain for Jews was immense! As the Hamodia Magazine brought in one of its recent editions, that Monsey was originally a very anti-Semitic town...!!!

10

 May 08, 2009 at 04:56 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
PMO Says:

You people really think that antisemitism exists today the way it did then? Such fools. Go back and READ. Read the stories that happened back then. It is nothing like it is today. People today (as a whole) are far more accepting of yidden than before. There is no place I can't go because I'm Jewish. There is no hotel or anything that has ever treated me differently because of my yarmulke!

Every instance of recent antisemitism I see in the news is the direct result of some moron's own actions. In general, it has nothing to do with antisemitism and more to do with hatred of that one individual for being an idiot... for not using common sense.


A good example is that lady in Monsey complaining on the news about shechita in the yard. Yid or not, I would have done the same thing! It is not antisemitism... it is "anti" the group of morons who had such little respect for their community that they went and did this in the first place. Had they been pagans slaugthering some animal for some ritual, it would have caused the same uproar!

Far too many people just yell "ANTISEMITISM" every time someone has a problem with a yid... regardless of who is right or wrong. And to those people I say "SHUT UP!".

Our grandparents' generation encountered FAR more antisemitism than we do today. We are FAR more accepted than our grandparents were and by denying it, you minimize the incredible struggles that they went through. You minimize the fight that they fought for YOU and all generations of American Jews to come.

For those of you who continue to do stupid things, one chillul H" after another, and continue to disrespect everyone else around you.... you deserve every bit of hatred that is thrown at you because you asked for it.

You are the fool if you really believe the goyim "like" the yidden. I think a better phrase might be they are more "tolerant" of yidden now than before. But that is because the world has become more "politically correct". While very few would acutally put up a sign saying "No Jews Allowed", I still believe most goyim would love to exclude Jews from whatever and wherever they can. If you really believe otherwise, where do live - on a hippie commune somewhere?
While I agree some Jews do stupid things that give excuses allowing goyim to "complain" about us, those are only the excuses they need to do so openly. Wouldn't you really want to know what they think behind closed doors? I'm sure they wouldn't think any better of the Jews even without an "excuse".

11

 May 09, 2009 at 09:43 AM FAL Says:

Why are you so surprised about that situation in canada? All you have to do is look in our own areas here in the US. Having grown up in central NJ, we had plenty of our own swim clubs and such that didnt allow Jews. We also had Johnson & Johnson, you know, the baby products and pharmaceutical company that everyone buys from that didnt allow Jews any jobs or if they did it was not higher in level than working menial jobs and that was rare. People i knew who were professionals and wanted to work for them, changed their last names in order to not sound Jewish and possibly offend those 'wonderful people'. Of course things have changed over the years, but if you for one moment think the sentiment has changed, you are sorely mistaken.

12

 May 09, 2009 at 10:47 PM PMO Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

You are the fool if you really believe the goyim "like" the yidden. I think a better phrase might be they are more "tolerant" of yidden now than before. But that is because the world has become more "politically correct". While very few would acutally put up a sign saying "No Jews Allowed", I still believe most goyim would love to exclude Jews from whatever and wherever they can. If you really believe otherwise, where do live - on a hippie commune somewhere?
While I agree some Jews do stupid things that give excuses allowing goyim to "complain" about us, those are only the excuses they need to do so openly. Wouldn't you really want to know what they think behind closed doors? I'm sure they wouldn't think any better of the Jews even without an "excuse".

I never said the goyim "like" the yidden... although for the most part, I believe they do.

I said "People today (as a whole) are far more accepting of yidden than before."
It is YOU Mr. 10 who is the fool for misquoting me.

Secondly, I have personally never experienced blatant antisemitism. EVER. Even working for a very religious Muslim. I have traveled to around 2 dozen countries and have not experienced it there either.

While I know it exists, I have only ever heard a handful of stories in the last 25 years or so that I would call ANTISEMITISM. Just because someone hates YOU does not make them antisemitic... they just hate you. Just because someone hates YOUR GROUP does not make them antisemitic.... they just hate your group.

Again... the crazy lady in Monsey certainly IS crazy... but she is not upset that YIDDEN were slaughtering a cow in the yard.... she was upset that STUPID PEOPLE were slaughtering a cow in the yard....

13

 May 09, 2009 at 09:55 PM Anonymous Says:

Do a Google search and read about what happened when the family of the late Samuel Golubchuk zl hyD refused the Winnipeg doctors' demands that this frum elderly man be euthanized.

14

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