Wednesday, September 15, 2010

OJA's Home Movie Project

The OJA has been working on a home movie project for the past year. We have been actively collecting home movies dating from the 1920s until the 1950s that document Jewish Toronto. The archival films have been digitized and a variety of clips will be selected and included in a film that will highlight these wonderful depictions of early Jewish life in Toronto. The selected footage documents themes such as simchas (weddings, anniversaries, bar mitzvahs), recreation, Jewish camps, travel and important events within the community. The film will be shown at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival in April of 2011.

One of the largest collections that the OJA possesses is that of Dr. A.I. Willinsky, one of the first Jewish doctors to practice in Toronto and an early photography and film enthusiast. His films document the construction of Holy Blossom Temple in 1937 as well as his family's activities, adventures and travels. In order to provide a glimpse at the type of footage that will be included in the home movie event, Melissa Caza, the archivist responsible for arranging, describing and preserving the films, has placed a short clip from the Willinsky fonds on YouTube. This clip was taken around 1928 and documents the Willinsky family's visit to the Kronick cottage, situated at Long Branch, Lake Ontario. Dr. Willinsky was the brother-in-law of Sam Kronick. His son Joe, who established and ran Camp White Pine -- which is now run by his son Adam -- was only two years old when the film was taken. 

For those who are interested in donating home movies to the Ontario Jewish Archives or learning more about the home movie project, please contact the Director of the OJA, Ellen Scheinberg. We are still looking for donors to help support this venture. Please give us a shout if you would like to contribute to this important initiative. Not only will it bring the importance of home movies to the fore, but it will help educate the public about the importance of safeguarding and preserving these rich and irreplaceable records that depict family and community life from the early part of the 20th century, in a truly vibrant and dynamic way.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The JCRC Records Processing Project

Responding to depression-era anti-Semitism in Canada, the Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai Brith together established in 1938 a new joint committee. Since then the Joint Community Relations Committee has documented racist threats in Canada; initiated advocacy activities to work for improved civil rights; promoted legislation combating hate; worked to ensure equality of access to employment, education and accommodation; and investigated specific incidents of discrimination. The JCRC, for example, played a key role in achieving the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1944, and the Fair Employment Practices Act of 1951, key steps leading to Canada’s current Human Rights Code.

This is an example of the type of
anti-Semitic cartoons and literature
documented in the files within this collection and
combatted by the JCRC
The textual records of the Ontario Region JCRC were originally created and maintained by the Canadian Jewish Congress, whose Toronto office donated them to the Ontario Jewish Archives. Although the files had been previously listed, access for research purposes remained extremely difficult. To correct this problem, the OJA is now reorganizing the JCRC records, applying national descriptive standards to ensure ease of understanding and access for future researchers. Guided by archivist George Wharton, and utilizing the efforts of three of our volunteers over the past year, approximately 24 metres of files have now been re-organized into five large sub-series to more precisely document the decisions and activities of the JCRC.

September 2010 marks the completion of the initial phase of this major project, involving records from 1938 to 1978. Phase two will involve the further sorting of the files into sub-series. As well, file within each sub-series will need to be organized either alphabetically or chronologically.