Edited by Léo-Paul Dana
Chapter 18: The Jewish Sub-Economy of Montreal
18. The Jewish sub-economy of Montreal* Morton Weinfeld INTRODUCTION Jews in Montreal have been very visible in the business realm of Montreal, Canada, owning factories and retail outlets as well as service firms. In 1913, for example, Ida Steinberg created a grocery store that led to the introduction of the supermarket concept in Quebec. Sam Steinberg (see Figure 18.1) and his brothers expanded the family business into the largest chain of supermarkets (see Figure 18.2) in the province. This chapter shall discuss the Jewish sub-economy in Montreal. The study of ethnic economies in general and ethnic enclaves in particular, particular those in North America or Europe, has relied on case studies of groups which are often foreign born, of racial minority origin, subject to ongoing forms of overt and systemic discrimination, and economically disadvantaged. (Light and Gold, 2000; Portes and Bach, 1985; Stiles and Galbraith, 2004; Waldinger, 1996, Waldinger et al., 1990). As a result Jews as an entire group today fall outside this purview. Rather, attention on Jewish economic behavior has focused on their proclivity towards entrepreneurship, as ‘middlemen minorities’ participating in the wider economy historically in the diaspora and recently in urban centers. (Bonacich, 1973). Of course, historians also noted the unique concentrations of immigrant Jews in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and other cities in the American northeast, in the early twentieth century. But the assumption is that as Jews – like other older immigrant minorities – are increasingly native born and more socio-economically successful, they will lose...
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