90th commemoration

Local Antisemitism

The Christie Pits Riot did not give rise to antisemitism in Toronto, rather it brought it to the surface for all to see.

During the 1930s, antisemitism was often seen as socially acceptable. There were many instances of permitted antisemitism, including Jews not being allowed to stay at hotels and resorts or visit beaches, golf courses, and parks. There were people who refused to rent living spaces to Jews and boycotted Jewish businesses. Signs indicating that no Jews were wanted showed up across Toronto and Ontario. There were also restrictions placed on the sale of land to Jews, called restrictive covenants.

The press could also be antisemitic, both overtly and subtly, for example pointing out the “Jewishness” of individuals featured in court cases in an attempt to disparage the community. Despite knowing what was happening in Germany at the time, some news articles, such as ones written by the Evening Telegram, cast doubt on reports of the atrocities in Germany leading up to the Holocaust. 

Many political players in the city of Toronto were not neutral on the topic, including Police Chief Dennis Draper. He spoke about the violence occurring around the city as a natural response, saying that the “Hebrew people arrived and caused trouble.”

Police Commission, Judge Frederick Montye Morson, Judge Emerson Coatsworth, Chief Dennis Draper, Mayor William James Stewart, 1931. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 22949.
Letter written to the Canadian Jewish Congress regarding antsemitsm paint at the lakefront in Parkdale, Toronto, 1938. Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 17, series 5-3, file 131.
"No Jews Wanted" sign, Jackson's Point, Ontario, 1938. Ontario Jewish Archives, item 1181.
Advertisement for French Cleaners, 1938. Note the line at the top stating “We Are Not Jewish”. Ontario Jewish Archives, Fonds 17, Series 5-3, File 65