Aaron Hart (businessman)
Painting of Aaron Hart by Dominic Boudet
August 16, 1724|
|Died||December 28, 1800
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (December 2010)|
Aaron Philip Hart (Hebrew: משה אורי בן יחזקאל; August 16, 1724 – December 28, 1800) was a businessman in Lower Canada and one of the first Jews to settle in the colony. He is considered the father of Canadian Jewry. He was one of the founding members of Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of Montreal (Shearith Israel), a wealthy man with numerous landed estates, and the married father of four sons, including the future politician Ezekiel Hart, and four daughters.
Aaron was born August 16, 1724, at London, England, to Yehezkel (Ezekiel) and Judah Hirsh, immigrants from Bavaria (they later changed their name to Hart, the English version of their name). He became a member of the St. Paul's Lodge of Freemasons on June 10, 1760, making him one of the first Jews in North America to become a Mason.
Some accounts say mistakenly that Hart crossed the Atlantic with Sir Frederick Haldimand during the Seven Years' War between England and France. Hart was appointed commissary officer in Jeffrey Amherst's army, and he travelled north and entered Montreal with Amherst's army in 1760. He settled at Trois-Rivières in 1761.  Hart supplied the British troops stationed there. He was appointed postmaster of Trois-Rivières in August 1763.
One of the first Jews in Canada, in 1768 Hart was a founding member of Shearith Israel, the Sephardic synagogue at Montreal. He was an Ashkenazi Jew who spoke fluent Yiddish, but at that time, most of the British Jews were of Sephardic descent and ritual.
Marriage and family
Hart invested in the fur trade, then quite lucrative, and later acquired a vast amount of property, having more than seven seigneuries, notably the seigneuries of Sainte-Marguerite[disambiguation needed], Vieux-Pont, and Bécancour. He bought the fief of Bruyères, the marquisate of Le Sable, and numerous other properties in and around Trois-Rivières. He also owned part of Trinity Island, and the mouth of Saint-Maurice.
Hart also operated a store in Trois-Rivières, where he conducted a diverse wholesale and retail business. He made commercial and real estate loans throughout a wide area around the town. Prospering by these diverse operations, he bequeathed a huge legacy to his and Catherine's eight children; his four sons inherited the vast bulk of his estate, while his four daughters received £1,000 each.
Hart died at Trois-Rivières on December 28, 1800, at the age of 76. At his death he was reputed to be the wealthiest man in British Canada.
A number of his descendants settled in New York, where they became members of the Congregation Shearith Israel. Most of Aaron Hart's children and grandchildren had remained Jews, and despite speculation to the contrary, many of Aaron Hart's descendants continue to live in the Jewish faith to this day.
His second son, Ezekiel Hart, who entered into the family business at Trois-Rivières and later opened a brewery with his brothers, was elected to the legislative assembly. Later he was expelled from his seat because he was a Jew. His son Moses became a businessman at William-Henry (later Sorel) and ran unsuccessfully several times for a seat in the legislative assembly. His son Benjamin became an important businessman in Montreal.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aaron Hart.|
- "Hart, Aaron". Exposition Shalom Québec. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
- Langlais, Jacques; Rome, David (2010). Jews and French Quebecers: Two Hundred Years of Shared History. Wilfred Laurier University Press. p. 23. ISBN 9781554587261.
- "This day, Mary 15, in Jewish history". Cleveland Jewish News.
- Godfrey, Sheldon J. (1995). Search Out the Land: The Jews and the Growth of Equality in British Colonial America, 1740-1867. McGill-Queen's studies in ethnic history 23. McGill Queen's Press. p. 98. ISBN 9780773564824.
- Wolff, Martin. "The Jews of Canada". American Jewish Year Book. p. 156. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
- PDF (663.79 KB)
- Vaugeois, Denis (1979). "Aaron Hart". Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4. Toronto. pp. 331–333. ISBN 0-8020-3351-2.
- Langlais, Jacques; Rome, David (1991). Jews & French Quebecers. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. ISBN 0-88920-998-7.
- Douville, Raymond (1938). Aaron Hart: Récit Historique. Trois-Rivières: Éditions du Bien Public.
- Hart, Arthur Daniel (1926). The Jew in Canada. Jewish Publications Limited.
- Gibbon, John Murray (1939). Canadian Mosaic. J. M. Dent.
- Sack, Sallyann Amdur; Mokotoff, Gary (2004). Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy. Avotaynu. ISBN 1-886223-17-3.
- Rosenberg, Stuart E. (1970). The Jewish Community in Canada. McClelland & Stewart.
- Southall, A.E.; Moody, C.H. (1914). Imperial Year Book for Dominion of Canada. Imperial Year Book.
- Abella, Irving M. (1990). A Coat of Many Colours: Two Centuries of Jewish Life in Canada. Lester & Orpen Dennys. ISBN 0-88619-251-X.
- Sack, Benjamin G. (1965). History of the Jews in Canada. Harvest House.
- Mendelsohn, Ezra (2004). Jews and the State: Dangerous Alliances and the Perils of Privilege. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-517087-3.
- Tulchinsky, Gerald (1993). Taking Root: The Origins of the Canadian Jewish Community. University Press of New England. ISBN 0-87451-609-9.
- Tulchinsky, Gerald (2008). Canada's Jews: A People's Journey. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-9386-8.
- Corcos, Arlette (1997). Montréal, les Juifs et l'école. Les Éditions du Septentrion. ISBN 2-89448-078-4.
- Fox, Chaim Leib; Anctil, Pierre (2005). Cent ans de littérature yiddish et hébraïque au Canada. Les Éditions du Septentrion. ISBN 2-89448-429-1.
- Canadian Jewish Year Book. Canadian Jewish Year Book reg'd. 1941.
- "Aaron Hart". Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 24, 2009.