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The Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre is one of the proud partners of an organization that is planning an event to be held on November 26th   2019, at the Research and Academic Centre at Laurier Brantford. This program focuses on Brantford’s Jewish community’s importance to the City’s commercial history.

Before the First World War, Brantford was one of the most important manufacturing centres in the Dominion, but also, and not coincidentally, the city with the highest proportion of “foreign born” residents in Canada. The influx of immigrants to the area in the last few years of the nineteenth century provided the manpower to build the economic miracle that was Brantford. The CIHC is focusing on telling this story by examining the roots of this chapter in Canadian history.

The 2019 program focuses on the influx of Russian Jews, but there are many other immigrant stories yet to be told, including the Anatolian Armenians and their Alevi Kurdish neighbours who joined them here. There were also Hungarian and Polish workers who found work at Brantford’s industries.

The committee itself represents a partnership between Brant Theatre Workshops, Laurier Brantford, the Brantford Public Library, the Brantford Museum and Archives, the Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre, and the many independent artists and researchers with whom we have coordinated. We hope that the Jewish project acts as a template for the interpretation of the histories of the other immigrants groups.

About the Inspiration


In 1881, the first Jewish family moved to Brantford, Ontario. By the 1960’s the community peaked at 150 families and at the turn of the last century there were only 28 families left. Gerald Tulchinsky, “the leading scholar of Canadian Jewish history”, saw this as “a pattern: initial settlement, followed by growth over a decade or two, and then decline as the younger generation sought greater opportunities in the cities.”  

Gerald Tulchinsky was born in Brantford in 1933. He was an example of that third generation. His grandparents were among the early immigrants, scrap dealers primarily, and his parents were local merchants. Jerry became a professor at Queens. In his retirement he wrote a memoir of growing up Jewish in Brantford, titled “Shtetl on the Grand”. He died two years ago and never had a chance to return to his home town to promote the book.

Jacob Joseph Tulchinsky was born into the Jewish community or shtetl of Brantford, Ontario in 1933. He was educated in his hometown, went to University in Toronto, and became “the foremost scholar of Canada’s Jews” at Queens University in Kingston. 

Recently, the book was reprinted and it has been circulated by word of mouth and a brief mention in the Brantford Expositor. The idea of a public reading from the book was suggested and the concept has attracted a small ad hoc committee that has been exploring the staging of an event to honour the book and the wider story of the Jewish community in Brantford and its role in the development of the city.