Fonds consists of short overviews of the 39th, detailed early history written by Dr. Slone, 1935-1936, record Book of the 39th Hebrew Boy Scouts, 1937 application forms of the 39th Hebrew, news clippings, Howie Osterer programming, including Kinus 1993; textiles including Irving Rivers Scout hat, …
Fonds consists of short overviews of the 39th, detailed early history written by Dr. Slone, 1935-1936, record Book of the 39th Hebrew Boy Scouts, 1937 application forms of the 39th Hebrew, news clippings, Howie Osterer programming, including Kinus 1993; textiles including Irving Rivers Scout hat, David Kardish’s boy scout sweater with a “39th Ottawa” patch, fanny pack, neckerchiefs and souvenir items, two laminated and mounted photographs: Larger one is a scouts group of young boys, smaller one is the Honourable Herb Gray signing autographs on Parliament Hill with scouts (see 4-726-01/02).
1931-1939, 1984, 1990's
During the 1910's, "the Boy Scouts had a Christian religious base and thereby precluded the involvement of Jewish youth. The 39th Scout Pack formed under the leadership of one of Ottawa’s outstanding sportsmen, Jess Abelson in around 1918, who felt that Jewish boys would benefit from the Scouts, so he formed the 39th - one of the first Jewish scout troops in Canada.”
"The boys who were the first members of the 39th were all from 'frist generation' Jews. Most, if not all, were from low income families who did not have the means to buy a scout uniform." - Moe Slone.
According to Dr. Abe Slone, it was "of considerable size," but it "disbanded for some unknown reason around 1920." At one point the 39th grew to 93 Scouts, making it the largest troop in Ottawa.
In 1921-1922, the District Boy Scout's Organization approached a newly formed B'nai B'rith Lodge and asked them to sponsor a new Jewish troop. Dr. Slone said it was "probably at the instigation of the older boys who were in the former troop."
B'nai B'rith agreed to sponsor the new troop and the Troop Committee from the Lodge consisted of Dr. Harry Dover, Mr. W. Shenkman and Dr. Slone.
Because there was no one else available at the time who could fill the role, Dr. Slone agreed to become the Scoutmaster. It was "a very well-organized troop consisting of four Scout Patrols and one Rover Patrol."
During the period between 1930 and 1960, the 39th had many different leaders including Dr. Abe Slone, Jacob Greenberg, Harold Shaffer, Harold Rubin, Hy Maser, Arnold Borts, Sam Ages and Jack Goldfield.
They ran annual summer camps, at first with the District and then on their own. They left the District because of the problem of keeping kashrut (kosher).
The tents, marquis, cool-tents, bedding and tables were all on loan from the militia.
They had very impressive Sabbath services, but otherwise strictly followed the Scouting mandate of badges, hiking, survival and emergency training and nature study. They also took part in all Boy Scout activities such as parades, Dominion Day celebrations, etc, all with the other troops in the District.
Between 1974 and 1989, the scouting movement in the Ottawa Jewish community was inactive. In 1989 though it was revitalized by a very dedicated Scout, Howie Osterer. The 39th was renamed the 39th Henry “Hank” Torontow Scouting Movement to honour Hank Torontow’s “distinguished meritous service as a Director of Scouting between 1957 and 1971".
Beavers and Cubs had previously been the important areas of continuity and continued to be in the 1990's.
In 1991, all levels of the 39th became co-ed, and was the first troop in Ontario to do so.
Many former Scout members ended up becoming leaders of the Jewish community, such as Dr. Lyon Pearlman, Jack Greenberg, Laz Mirsky, Harold Shenkman, Irving Cohen and more.
1. All textiles in a textile box marked with 39th Henry Hank Torontow Scouts fonds.
2. Howie Osterer donated many records and textiles, 2008 before his departure to Israel.
3. Boy scout sweater donated by David Kardish’s mother, Shirley Kardish.
4. 1935-1936 Record Book and 1937 Application forms donated by Howie Osterer, summer, 2005
5. Detailed early history in a photocopied letter from Dr. A. Slone to Rabbi Lifschutz, July 16, 1954 (original letter in Rabbi Lifschutz fonds).
6. Brief Overview of the 39th Scout Movement, renamed the 39th Henry “Hank” Torontow Scout Movement in 1989 - as dictated to past Archivist Dawn Logan.
The 39th was organized in 1918 with Jess Abelson as the first Scoutmaster. He was followed by Dr. Abe Slone, the first Jewish dentist in Ottawa. He remained in that position for many years. Hy Harris followed Dr. Slone. Hy Wolfson was a Scoutmaster in the 1920's, then Jacob Greenberg in 1931-1932, Harold Shaffer in 1932-1933, Harold Rubin, 1933-1935, Hy Maser,1936-1941, assisted by Henry Kelson.
During World War II, Arnold Borts became a Scoutmaster with troop leaders, Alan Abelson, Jack Barrett and Ab Hochberg. The 39th were very active during this time, including the commencement of Cubs, early participation in Boy Scout Apple Day as well as assisting as summer errand boys and waiting on tables when the Women’s Canadian Club served lunches at the Capital Theatre. They met in the gym of York Street School, Ottawa. On Apple Days, they slept overnight at Boy Scout headquarters on Metcalfe Street for an early start. Ab Hochberg is quoted as saying “I have more proficiency badges than any other Scout”. As these Scouts grew older, they joined the army and air cadets.
In the 1950's Cubs were organized by Sam Ages. Scoutmasters in the 1950's were Jack Goldfield and Assistant Scoutmaster was Jack Barrett. Cubs met at the Talmud Torah Building on Sunday afternoons and Boy Scouts at the new Jewish Community Centre on Thursday evenings.
In the mid-1960s Eric Haltretcht was Scoutmaster. Henry Torontow began his scouting days in 1957. In the early 1970's Barnie Farber and John Deiner were Cub Masters. Between 1974 and 1989, the scouting movement in the Ottawa Jewish community was inactive.
In 1989, the 39th Boy Scouts was revitalized under the leadership of Howie Osterer. The 39th was renamed the 39th Henry “Hank” Torontow Scouting Movement to honour Hank Torontow’s “distinguished meritous service as a Director of Scouting between 1957 and 1971". Beavers and Cubs were the important areas of continuity.
In 1992, all levels of the 39th became co-ed. In 1993 or 1994, the 39th participated in a Food Bank Drive, CPR training for 8 to 11 year olds, and acted as flag bearers, coat checkers, lost and found coordinators and first aid attendants.
When Howie Osterer assumed a full time position at Scout Headquarters, he had to relinquish his position as Scoutmaster. Finding suitable scout leaders is always a problem.
Information supplied by telephone conversation with Ab Hochberg, March, 2002; Ottawa Jewish Bulletin search under “scouting” and short telephone conversation with Mrs Henry Torontow.
Telephone Conversation with Alan Abelson. He phoned from Los Angeles, Calif. on Feb. 8th, 2006 to talk about his Boy Scout Days.
- They met once a week in the York Street School. They were organized by patrols. Arnie Borts was a Troop Leader, assisted by Abe Hochberg. Alan Abelson was a Patrol Leader.
- Scouting was very popular at this time.
- During the World War II years it was quite exciting for young boys. The War Service Badge was particularly memorable. It was measured by hours of service to the Ottawa community. “It was quite exciting learning survival type instructions.” One element was taking a flashlight at night and biking around to locate the police and fire stations in case of an emergency.
- Another aspect of the War Service Badge was assisting the Women’s Canadian Club who ran teas at the Capital Theatre. The Scouts assisted with the coat check, moving trays.
- Most of the Scouting Badges were proficiency badges - in hiking, swimming, knot tying. Hikes took place in Rockcliffe Park in the direction of the Rockcliffe Air Base.
- There was the Path Finder Badge where every shop, store, fire and police stations within a mile radius had to be marked on a map.
- Boy Scout Apple Day was a definite highlight as they slept overnight on a wooden floor at the Scout Headquarters in order to make early morning preparations for the next day.
Related Boy Scout shirts in Alan Abelson, Arnold Borts and Abe Hochberg fonds and Girl Guide Dress, tie, belt and bloomers in Martin Levinson fonds.
Related material in Harold Rubin fonds, Arnold Borts fonds.