Toronto Jewish City Directories

History of the Directories

The Toronto Jewish Directories were produced by private companies during the 1920s and early 1930s, to access information about Jewish residents, businesses and organizations in Toronto. Since the Toronto Jewish community had grown considerably during this period -- from 34,377 in 1921 to 46,751 in 1931 -- there was a desire to pull together, publish and make this information available to community members.

While they were extremely popular, the directories were only published for four years: 1924, 1925, 1926 and 1931. The early directories were produced by the Publishers Advertising Company, at 57 Queen Street West. The Managing editor was Harry Shapiro. The directories included several sections and were approximately 200 to 230 pages in length. They included a calendar with Yiddish days and months, and Jewish holidays. It also included advertisements as well as listings for the advertisers in alphabetical order. These were followed by the listings of Jewish cemeteries, clubs, organizations, synagogues, buildings societies etc…

The main component of this publication was the alphabetical listing of Jewish residents from Toronto, which included information such as the individual’s name, address and occupation. The occupations were abbreviated, and consequently, a list of occupational abbreviations is included in each directory. The last component of the directory included the list of Jewish companies or professionals in Toronto such as physicians, painters, tailors, rabbis, butchers etc… organized alphabetically by trade.

Through the years the organization and structure of the directory changed, but the content remained fairly consistent. The 1931 Directory was produced by a new publisher, Joe Salsberg, and published by the International Advertising Agency at 287 Spadina Avenue.

Although the directory was highly regarded and in great demand by community members and advertisers alike, it was not published again after 1931 until the early 1970s, when Jewish Information Services took over this task. The recent directories only included organizational names, since the size of the population by that point made it inefficient to construct a directory that included the names of individual residents. Currently, JIST (Jewish Information Services of Toronto), is mandated to provide organizational listings -- along with much more relating to the Jewish community and events -- on their website.