Letters-patent for the Young Mens’ Hebrew Athletic Club Limited, 1901. Ontario Jewish Archives, accession #1994-12-7.

This important document was donated to the OJA by the Goodman family, in loving memory of their son Bryan who passed away in 1985.

The Young Mens’ Hebrew Athletic Club Limited is the earliest documented athletic club in the city. It was granted letters-patent on 30 May 1901. The five executives of the club included: Samuel Rosen, designer; Joseph Harris, manager; Hyman Baker, tailor; Joseph Brody, tailor; and Moses Sharp, barber. Joseph Harris would later become the first president of the Hebrew Association of Young Men’s and Young Women’s Clubs in 1919.

Although the letters-patent was written fifteen years prior to the Ontario Temperance Act, the content of the document reveals the widespread alcohol problems that Toronto was experiencing at the turn of the century. Many illegal clubs were operating in the city for the sole purpose of selling liquor, in opposition to the Liquor License Act. Thus, rather than focusing on the mandate of the organization, the strong wording of the club’s letters-patent  prohibits the sale, disposal, bartering or trafficking of liquor and spirits.

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