Jews started coming to the Canadian West in the 1880s for the same reasons as other immigrants: to escape religious persecution in their European homelands, and for the promise of vast tracts of cheap land. More specific Jewish reasons for immigration were to escape pogroms in Russia, or to avoid conscription into the Russian Army. Some came for the gold rush, and some were merely following the maxim, “Go West, Young Man.”
by Debby Shoctor
(Also see A History of Jews in Western Canada)
Edmonton, Alberta was first incorporated as a town in 1892. At that time, there were about 700 permanent residents. Founded on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River on the site of the former Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort Edmonton, it soon began to attract a growing populace. Abraham and Rebecca Cristall, Edmonton’s first Jews, arrived in 1893. Their children, George and Rose, were the first Jewish children born in Edmonton. Abe became a successful businessman, and helped to bring more Jews over from his native Bessarabia.