Sol Edell

Portrait of Sol Edell at his graduation from the University of Toronto, 1943.  Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 4, series 1-4, file 3, item 1.Sol Edell (1919–2000) was a prominent member of the Toronto Jewish community who initially pursued a career as a pharmacist and later founded and ran the property development company Elmdale Investments. He held positions in a wide variety of religious, educational, and social service organizations and institutions in Canada and Israel, including, locally, Clanton Park Synagogue, Adas Israel Synagogue, Jones Avenue Cemetery, Canadian Jewish Congress, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto (formerly Toronto Jewish Congress, now UJA Federation of Greater Toronto).

Edell was born in Toronto on 5 March 1919, one of five siblings and the son of Paul (Pesach) and Molly Edell. His father was an immigrant from Poland and owner of a Toronto printing business. His grandfather, Rabbi Yoseph Weinreb, was the first Orthodox rabbi of Toronto and its first chief rabbi.

Edell attended Harbord Collegiate and graduated from the University of Toronto, College of Pharmacy in 1943 after obtaining a special leave of absence from the army to complete university. Upon graduation, he returned to the Canadian Armed Forces and served as a lieutenant in the signal corps during the Second World War.

In 1948, following completion of army service, he opened Edell’s Drug Store at 1978 Queen Street in Etobicoke, the first shomer Shabbat drug store in the city. He operated a second store at 494 Spadina Avenue in the late 1940s. In 1955, the Queen Street location was expropriated by the City of Toronto. Subsequently, Edell founded Elmdale Investments, the company that built and managed the Elmhurst Plaza in Etobicoke. It was there that he reopened the drug store, which he renamed Elmhurst Drugs. He also invested in two retail textile stores—Deltex Drapery and Dodd’s Drapery—that were founded by a group of businessmen that included his cousin, Israel Edell.

In 1952, Sol married Doreen “Dolly” Weinstock, the daughter of Moishe and Sylvia Weinstock. They lived in the newly developed suburb of Bathurst and Wilson, North York, with their four children: Ethel, Simcha, Malka, and Joseph. Dolly passed away in 1966 after ten years of marriage, after which Sol married Celia Hoffman (née Rogen) of Hamilton.

Sol Edell was a founding member and first president of the Clanton Park Congregation. He was actively involved in the construction of the synagogue and its development and remained so until his death in 2000. He continued to be affiliated with Shomrai Shabbos where his grandfather Rabbi Yosef Weinreb had been the rabbi. He was also involved with Adas Israel, the synagogue in Hamilton where his wife Celia was an active member.

For ten years, Edell was chair of the Archives Committee of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario Region, which subsequently became the Ontario Jewish Archives. During his tenure, the archives were responsible for raising money for the reconstruction of the Kiever Synagogue which was built in the early 1900s but had fallen into a state of disrepair by the 1960s.

Sol Edell was also involved in a number of Zionist organizations. He was founding chair of the Aliyah Support Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto, whose mandate was to assist Torontonians, like his son, who had moved to Israel in order to help ease their transition into Israeli society. He was an active member of the Mizrachi organization and its affiliated institutions, sat on the Kashruth Council, and was deeply involved with Or Chaim Yeshiva and Ulpanot Orot Girls School.

Another of Sol Edell’s interests was ensuring the preservation of local Jewish cemeteries. He was president of the Jones Avenue Cemetery, and on the board of Pardes Shalom and the Bathurst Lawn Cemetery, Clanton Park section.

Edell was actively involved in, or provided financial support, to many educational, professional, and religious organizations. A sister-in-law suggested he took it as his personal mission to help the needy. A well-loved and much respected member of the community, Sol Edell passed away in April 2000 at the age of eighty-one.

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