Heritage Toronto commemorates the city’s historic Jewish Quarter

To commemorate Toronto’s Jewish history in the College and Spadina area, Heritage Toronto is offering two free events on Wednesday, July 9, 2014: a plaque unveiling followed by a tour of the area led by the Ontario Jewish Archives.

 The plaque commemorates Cecil Street and the meeting halls and organizations that lined it, a focal point for the cultural and institutional life of the Jewish community that moved into the Kensington Market neighbourhood in the early 20th century. The unveiling takes place at 6:00pm at the Cecil Street Community Centre, located at 58 Cecil Street.

The “Sense of Spadina: Historic Jewish Toronto” tour explores the area southeast of College and Spadina, a vibrant Jewish neighbourhood in the first half of the 20th century. Visits include key Jewish sites in the College and Spadina area including synagogues, bakeries, former garment factories, theatres and social agencies – some still standing, others now vanished.

Toronto’s Jewish population doubled between 1911 and 1921; institutions such as the Folks Farein, the Farband Institute and the Jewish Old Folks Home (later Baycrest) were established to offer a variety of services.  For decades, these organizations provided childcare, medical assistance, and English-language classes. Mutual benefit societies, such as the Zionist Institute, supported shared community projects and housed smaller organizations. Local Jewish families began to move out of the neighbourhood in the 1950s, and many of the institutions on Cecil Street also relocated, to be replaced by new organizations serving the changing community.

The tour leaves from the same spot (58 Cecil Street) right after the plaque unveiling at 6:30pm, and those interested in attending need not RSVP for the tour.

For more information on the unveiling and the tour, please visit http://heritagetoronto.org/event/a-sense-of-spadina-tour-cecil-street-plaque-presentation/