Lyon Cohen

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Lyon Cohen
Born May 11, 1868
Budwitcher, Poland
Died 1937 (aged 68–69)
Nationality Canada
Ethnicity Jewish
Known for co-founder of the Canadian Jewish Times
Religion Judaism
Spouse(s) Rachel Friedman
Children Nathan Bernard Cohen
Horace Rives Cohen
Lawrence Zebulun Cohen
Sylvia Lillian Cohen

Lyon Cohen (1868-1937) was a Polish-born Canadian businessman and a philanthropist. He is the grandfather of singer/poet Leonard Cohen.

Biography[edit]

Cohen was born in Budwitcher, Poland to an ethnic Jewish family on May 11, 1868.[1] He immigrated to Canada with his parents in 1871.[1] He was educated at the McGill Model School and the Catholic Commercial Academy in Montreal.[1] In 1888, he entered the firm of Lee & Cohen in Montreal; later became partner with his father in the firm of L. Cohen & Son; in 1895, he established W. R. Cuthbert & Co; in 1900, he organized the Canadian Improvement Co., a dredging contractor; in 1906, he founded The Freedman Co. in Montreal; and in May 1919, he organized and became President of Canadian Export Clothiers, Ltd.[1] The Freedman Company went on to become one of Montreal’s largest clothing companies.[2]

In 1897, Cohen co-founded with Samuel William Jacobs, the Canadian Jewish Times, the first English language Jewish newspaper in Canada.[3] The newspaper promoted the Canadianization of recent East European Jewish immigrants and encouraged their acceptance of Canadian customs[2] as Cohen felt that the old world customs of immigrant Jews were one of the main causes of anti-Semitism.[2] In 1914, the paper was purchased by Hirsch Wolofsky, owner of the Yiddish language Keneder Adler, who transformed it into the Canadian Jewish Chronicle.[2]

Philanthropy[edit]

He was elected the first president of the Canadian Jewish Congress in 1919 and organized the Jewish Immigrant Aid Services of Canada.[3] Cohen was also a leader of the Young Men’s Hebrew Benevolent Society (later the Baron de Hirsch Institute) and the United Talmud Torahs, a Jewish day school in Montreal.[4] He also served as president of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim[2] and president of the Jewish Colonization Association in Canada.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Cohen married Rachel Friedman of Montreal on February 17, 1891. She was the founder and President of Jewish Endeavour Sewing School. They had three sons and one daughter:

  • Nathan Bernard Cohen, who served in the World War as Lieutenant; he married Lithuanian Jewish immigrant Marsha Klinitsky and they had one daughter and one son:
  • Horace Rives Cohen, who was Captain and Quartermaster of his battalion in the late World War;[1]
  • Lawrence Zebulun Cohen, student at McGill University, and[1][8]
  • Sylvia Lillian Cohen.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g The Quebec History Encyclopedia: Lyon Cohen retrieved April 22, 2012
  2. ^ a b c d e Museum of Jewish Montreal: "Lyon Cohen - Freedman Company" retrieved September 6, 2014
  3. ^ a b c Cohen, Lyon Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives
  4. ^ a b Newspapers of Jewish Montreal" (page 3), Jewish Public Library Archives.
  5. ^ The International Whos Who 2004 retrieved April 22, 2012
  6. ^ Cohen, Leonard (24 May 1985). The Midday Show With Ray Martin. Interview with Ray Martin. ABC. Sydney. Retrieved 1 October 2008. My – my mother was from Lithuania which was a part of Poland and my great-grandfather came over from Poland to Canada. 
  7. ^ Leonard Cohen Biography : Leonard Cohen was born to a Polish father and a Lithuanian-Jewish mother in Quebec in 1934.
  8. ^ Canadian Jewish News: "Earliest Canadian-made chanukiyah discovered" November 26, 2012
Preceded by
none
President of the Canadian Jewish Congress
1919-1934
Succeeded by
Samuel William Jacobs