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Israel Medres, Montreal of Yesterday: Jewish Life in Montreal 1900-1920. Translated from the Yiddish by Vivian Felsen (Montreal: Vehicule Press, 2000)
ISRAEL MEDRES' portrait of Montreal Jewry is akin to and as evocative of its subject as Spirit of the Ghetto (1902), Hutchins Hapgood's sympathetic snapshot of Yiddish culture on Manhattan's Lower East Side. But Montreal of Yesterday, a series of newspaper sketches begun just after World War II and first published in toto in 1947, is a unique document. Medres wrote for a popular Jewish readership, in the Yiddish-language Keneder Adler (Daily Eagle); as a Yiddish speaker, Medres knew his subject in a way that Hapgood, a non-Jew coming from an old Boston background, could not. Although Montreal of Yesterday is arguably the more valuable historical resource, however, given both its depth of understanding and its breadth (covering twenty years in chronological order), it was virtually a lost work, unknown to most historians.
That is, until 1997, when French-Canadian Yiddishist Pierre Anctil translated it into French. …