Archives News

December 2018

New perspectives!


To start with the most "moving" event of our year: in late August 2018 the Archives relocated to Suite 211, 4810 Jean Talon West, in Cote des Neiges, Montreal, on the corner of Victoria avenue. We are now on the second floor of a large, multi-functional commercial building with a view over low rooftops towards the western skyline.

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The advantages of the new facility include more accessibility features, natural lighting and improved climate control. Two bus lines pass nearby, and it is a short walk from two subway stations.  Measuring over 5000 square feet in size, our new site includes a protected room for fragile materials, large tables for researcher use, enough room for group meetings, a lounge nook, and a handicapped washroom. Researchers and volunteers are pleased that the document consultation area is enhanced by light from the nearby windows, while our staff and volunteer assistants appreciate how the strategically planned and simplified layout has rendered the archival collections better protected yet easier to retrieve.

This major change came after 40 years at the Samuel Bronfman House, the former Canadian Jewish Congress headquarters building which became part of Concordia University's downtown campus in 1999. After having received notice that the university wanted to repurpose the space, we carried out a lengthy and exhaustive search in order to find new premises which combined all the features listed above along with affordable rent.

Renovating and setting up at our new space would not have been possible without the generous financial support of the Azrieli Foundation, the Alex Dworkin fund at the Jewish Community Foundation, Jewish Federations Canada-UIA and Federation CJA Montreal, the Labour Zionist Trust, and the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Quebec.

The move itself involved five long days of shelf construction and pallets of boxes in transit, after weeks of intensive placement planning. This was followed by many more weeks of re-inventorying, on-site rearranging, and decorating. We are still not quite finished with this work, but have been fully operational since September. Photos taken at various stages of the process can be seen on our Facebook page.

Throughout this immense undertaking we were fortunate to be guided and helped by many volunteers on so many levels: notably architectural consultants Gerald Soiferman and Jake Fichten, real estate expert Harvey Elman, archival studies students and other young assistants including Melissa Castron, Coady Sidley, Larry Adebesin and Karl Mangune, and our long-time stalwarts Shirley Sibalis and Eunice Seligson

Getting back into our regular roles of acquiring historical materials and responding to researchers at the new site, we were excited to add to our Montreal-oriented information with the donation by Dr. Mel Himes of a shelf's worth of documents about the city's Jewish-owned businesses and the vast range of Jewish individuals who have made an impact here. 

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We were also thrilled to acquire for our art collection (and new wall space) four paintings from the estate of the artist Moe Reinblatt, including this Midnight Landscape, as well as a Moe Reinblatt print transferred to us from the McCord Museum.      

 Among the more public uses of our collections in 2018, earlier this year we provided many of the images for the widely-attended McCord Museum exhibit "Shalom Montreal", and we are currently in the process of assisting with illustrative materials for a QAHN (Quebec Anglo Heritage Network) travelling educational exhibit about Quebec history.

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Among the individual researchers who consulted us recently, we were particularly gratified to assist the great-grandson of David Rome, the founding historian of the Canadian Jewish Archives. Canadian Jewish Congress collection photographs and an audio interview done with Rome in the early 1990s helped eleven-year-old Oren - who happens to be the age at which his great-grandfather came to Canada in 1921 - to speak about the role David Rome played in the story of the refugees who arrived on the Serpa Pinto ship in 1944. (Eleven year old David Rome can be seen at bottom left of the image at right.)