LIFE, LABOUR & LOSS
The Life Story of Joseph and Louis Rincover
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Joseph Rincover was born in 1856 in Galatz, a large port city on the Danube River in Eastern Romania.
Joseph Rincover was born in 1856 in Galatz, a large port city on the Danube River in Eastern Romania. Three years after his birth riots broke out targeting the city’s Jewish minority where over three days people were beaten and murdered, their homes were looted and the biggest synagogue in the city was destroyed. In the early 1900s Joseph and his family decide to leave Romania.
Between 1902 and 1903, Joseph, his wife Shifra, and their children Sadie and Louis made their way to Liverpool, England, and from there to Canada. When they arrived the family of four settled into an apartment at 114 Terauley Street, just north of the current day intersection of Bay and Queen, living in close quarters with three other renters. Amongst their predominantly Jewish neighbours were Pazner Merkel, a 39-year-old painter, and Harry Goldenthal, a 26-year-old garment presser. At age 53, twice the age of his young neighbor, Joseph too, began to work as a presser at one of the numerous garment factories that stretched along Spadina Avenue. During this time, Joseph was witness to the beginnings of one of the most active labour movements in Toronto’s history, organized by Jewish garment factory workers.
Just before his 60th birthday, in 1915 Joseph and his family moved to 68 Bellevue Place in Kensington Market. He opened a grocery store underneath their apartment, and worked as a grocer. That same year his son Louis married a 22-year-old Russian immigrant named Ida Schulman. Soon after the wedding, Louis and Ida moved to Winnipeg to be closer to Ida’s sister, Jennie. They had two children, Max and Sofie. Life in Winnipeg was hard and the family struggled to make a living. On March 10, 1943, Louis committed suicide in the garage of his home. Joseph, already widowed, died in Toronto two years later.
“My ancestors worked incredibly hard for a better life and deserve to have their accomplishments acknowledged and appreciated. This is my way of bringing them back to life. It’s important my family’s story isn’t forgotten, and that I have something to pass on to my son when he is old enough.”
– Nicole Chodos, great-great-granddaughter of Joseph Rincover