Map of north eastern Ontario
Jewish settlement in northeastern Ontario is said to have begun at the turn of the Twentieth century with the encouragement of the provincial government's offer of free land and transport to what was then called New Ontario.
Moving from Krugerdorf
3 July 2003
Many of the people who came to Kirkland Lake, that were passing through, came from the original Krugerdorf settlement which was just south of Englehart, between Kirkland Lake and Englehart. This settlement took place in the early nineteen hundreds, around 1905 - 1910 when the government offered free land to settlers who would come to northern Ontario. And the ONR Railway was being built. Many of the Jewish people who came north at that time were people who had come from Russia and Poland in what was known as the Russian Pale of Settlement I think, and in that particular area Jews were not allowed to own land, although there were many successful Jewish tailors and tradesmen and even some, probably some, wealthy people, they were just not allowed to own farmland and of course most of them were very poor. What they wanted more than anything else was to own a piece of land of their own where they could keep their cattle and their livestock and farm and live like the rest of the world. It was very close, very dear to their hearts.
So the people who came north in the early days of that time stopped in the Krugerdorf area where they were given farms.
National Maritime Museum
The Russian Pale of Settlement 1835 - 1917
Memories suggest that the first to arrive were David and Pauline Atkinson.
David Atkinson and his wife were natives of Kiev in the Ukraine. They left Kiev during the persecution of Jews that followed the Russian-Japanese war. After living for a short time in Scotland, they came to Canada, and then, in 1904, to Timiskaming where land was being opened for settlement. The Atkinsons came north and located on a farm in Ingram Township near Tomstown, a short distance south of Kirkland Lake. There were two small children in the family. Mr. Atkinson was employed as a timekeeper with the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railroad, which was then being built. He was able to speak in thirteen languages and was frequently called upon to act as interpreter.
Others soon followed the Atkinsons. The most significant of these were the thirty-five immigrants who settled at Krugerdorf in Chamberlain Township to the north of the Atkinsons home in Ingram Township. These immigrants had arrived from Eastern Europe and the Russian Pale.
Atkinsons arrive in northern Ontario
11 July 1980
Courtesy of the Ontario Jewish Archives
I have often wondered how Jews got into the Krugderdorf, Englehart area and had actually settled that there, but, it was often taken for granted until you and I talked to Edith Atkinson out at the cemetery and she told us at that time that her father was a Russian Jew who had some where along the line had moved to Scotland and she told us that she was born in Edinburgh.
Mr. Atkins, Etkins, Atkinson by virtue of his birth, spoke Russian. He was employed by the, it was the, at that time forerunner of the Ontario Northland Railroad - the Temagami[sic] and Northern Ontario Railroad. He was hired to bring in Russian, Polish people to work on the railroad. And apparently he found several of these Jewish families in Montreal presumably who spoke Yiddish also of course and Russia and certain families got land patents almost at the beginning, at opening of the north in that particular area in around really a whistle stop called Krugerdorf which is just north of a town called Englehart which incidentally had Jewish also right at the beginning, the Kurts family, had a hotel very early. They were probably there before.
They were probably there about 1908...
1908 as a matter of fact, some of these people settled as early as 1904.
They arrived in 1905 and with the assistance of the Baron de Hirsch Institute, settled along the banks of the Blanche River.
Among the colony were such names as Vellis, Perkus, Rapkin, Rice, Henerofsky, Stamen, Malen, Gurevitch, Martin, Feldman, Levy, Goldstein, Abraham, Frumpkin, Korman, Verlieb and others. There were about fifty families in all. During the day, the men worked at construction on the new Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway.
As northern Ontario's economy developed and grew with the discovery and extraction of natural resources, individuals from the settlement began to leave their farms for nearby communities. By 1948 the last of the original settlement had abandoned the farm for life in town.
All that is left of the settlement is the cemetery at Krugerdorf.
Early Settlers of Krugerdorf
I have a record of the names of some of the early settlers in that area and we'll try to trace them as they left there and came into Kirkland Lake and into Timmins and to Iroquois Falls and other places in the north. Now, the names of the early settlers in the Krugerdorf area are not necessarily alphabetical, but just starting with:
Vellis, Perkus, Rapkin, Rice, Henerofsky, Stayman, Mallin, Gurevitch, Martin, Feldman, Levi, Goldstein, Abraham, Frumpkin, Korman, Vertleib, Engel, Kideckel, Slotnick and
Paragoodie - which name I do not recognize.