Interview with Joseph Abramovitch
In February 2009, Joseph Abramovitch phoned me after reading the article on this project
that appeared in the Jewish Tribune. Since he lived in Ottawa too, we agreed to meet at his
local Tim Horton's.
What makes him special in the history of Jewish Papineau is that he lived there a generation
later than most. He was born in 1949 and only left Papineau in 1967. He lived at 6388 Papineau
Avenue. He remembers that the Red Shul was filled with people even during those years.
On the other hand, many of his friends growing up were Italian kids, which makes me wonder
if perhaps people still came back to their old shul even if they were now living elsewhere. Joseph
thinks a lot of people moved around 1964-65.
Growing up during those years in Papineau sounds much like where I grew up in Park Extension.
Kids were outside playing all the time, especially ball hockey there. He went to the Talmud Torah
on St Joseph, and Baron Byng High School later. He had no siblings.
Joseph's father Harry was an upholsterer. He was a big powerful man who had no trouble lifting
heavy sofas (we called them "chesterfields" then). He'd been an amateur boxer. He was not an
original Papineau resident, but Joseph's mother Rachel was born there. Rachel's parents owned
a store at 6386 Papineau, beside their house.
Joseph drew me a map of Papineau, noting a number of businesses that I had already been
told about, but some that were unknown to me. It is not certain if they started up later or had simply
not been mentioned by other people writing me. He mentioned Galati, an Italian shoemaker on
Papineau near Bellechasse; an upholstery business run by the Perchers, who he remembers as three
brothers, Itzik, Issie (?). He told me that Benny Fishman was a Diamond Taxi driver, and was good
pals with his dad Harry Abramovitch. Ralph was a son of Benny. He also mentioned the Yellow Sample
Shoe Store that Harry Bagelman ran on Papineau Avenue.
He remembers Solly Parkovnik (sp?) who sold poultry from his shop across the street from Joseph's
house. Max Wex was a peddler who lived next door to that shop. He also remembers the Herman
family, Rifka, and Jet who he recalls was a justice of the peace. Rifka was married to Larry Kirshner,
and their children that Joseph remembers were Stewart (Joseph's age) and Laila.
In the summer, the family went to Shawbridge like so many other families. He remembers that they
stayed at Kallenberg's Hotel.
Abramovitch family lineage
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