Jews were not allowed to live in Canada under French rule. Therefore, the earliest record of Jews in Canada dates back to The French and Indian War when The British took over Canada. 3 Jews were among the officers on the staff of British General Amherst: Aaron Hart, Emmanuel Cordova, and Isaac Miramer. After Canada became a British possesion a number of Jews settled in Montreal. Some were fur traders and others were veterans of The British Army that had defeated The French in The French and Indian War. In 1768, Montreal's first synagogue, Shaarei Israel was established. It was a Sfardic synagogue since most of the members were of Sfardic ancestry. Eventually, Ashkenazic Jews immigrated to Canada from Eastern Europe just as they did to The United States.
In 1807, Aaron Hart's son, Ezekiel Hart, was elected to the legistlature of Lower Canada, which is now the province of Quebec. He refused to be sworn in on a Christian Bible, and instead took the oath on a Jewish Bible with his head covered. Due to Anti-Semitism, this raised a storm of protest, and he was expelled from the legislative chambers. However, his expulsion caused The French to revolt and he was eventually voted back in to the legislature.
In 1832, a bill was passed extending the same political rights to Jews as to Christians. Since then, Jews have won seats in all of the provincial legislatures, have served as mayors of Toronto, Vancouver, and other cities, and have been judges in courts at all levels. In 1970, Boris Laskin became the first Jewish member of Canada's Supreme Court.
Jews were also very active in Canada's commercial life. Jewish merchants set up stores in small railroad towns and were active in the fishing industry, telegraph communications, and the fur trade. In 1858, Jews participated in the gold rush in British Columbia. This led to the erection of a synagogue in Victoria in 1862. Jews also participated in The Klondike Gold Rush in The Yukon Territory in the end of The 1800's.
During and after World War II, many Jewish refugees came to Canada. In The 1950's and 1960's, many French speaking Jews from North Africa settled in Quebec. This led to the rise of Jews in Canada from 170,000 in 1941, to 260,000 in 1961. The Canadian Jewish Congress helped pave the way for the arrival of these immigrants. Also, many Jews from Israel and The Former Soviet Union have recently immigrated to Canada.
Many Jews have recently moved from Montreal to Toronto out of concern for the consequences of a possible Quebec breakaway. Today, 175,000 Jews live in Toronto, 100,000 live in Montreal, 30,000 live in Vancouver, 15,000 live in Winnipeg, 12,000 live in Ottawa, 7,500 live in Calgary, 5,000 live in Hamilton, and 5,000 live in Edmonton. There are many Hasidic Jews in Montreal and Toronto.
For The Atlantic Canadian Provinces Jewish History, go to http://www.jonathan5742.com/Right_Wing_Zionist_Homepage/Atlantic.htm.
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