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  Windows in Time 


A Summer's Journey to Europe and the Middle East
Taken by S.L. Nathanson and his Family

By Merle Kastner, Montreal, Canada


A BRIEF FAMILY HISTORY

In 1901, Samuel Lyon Nathanson, his wife Basha (nee Mendelssohn) and their children left their home in Piatra Neamt. Romania and immigrated to Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada. At some point after their arrival, S.L. left his wife and their five children (Anna Ruth, Rebecca, Moe, Henry and Sydney) and traveled by horse and buggy to Montreal in order to set up his grocery business.

He quickly obtained a liquor license with the help of Dow and Eker ("American Grain Distillers", later changed to "Sampson Distillers, Inc.") This provided him with the most lucrative part of his business. Having been in the liquor business in Piatra Neamt, he had a first-hand knowledge of the business.

His first store was called "S.L. Nathanson & Sons", and was located on St. Lawrence Blvd., on the northwest corner of St. Cuthbert.  Later, he opened another on Ontario Street, on the northeast corner of St. Lawrence, and another one on de Montigny Street, now de Maisonneuve.  However, when the liquor law was revised by the Quebec government in 1918, S.L. recycled himself into the real estate business.

After his arrival in Montreal, he quickly established himself as an important and contributing member of the Montreal Jewish Community.  He was prominent in philanthropic work among Montreal Jewry and was a member of many Jewish philanthropic organizations. "S.L.", as he was called, was one of the founders of B'Nai Brith in Canada, among other important organizations, and was interested in the merchandising of Kosher wine, of which business he was one of the pioneers in Montreal.
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An advertisement in The Canadian Jewish Times reads as follows:

            PALESTINE PRODUCTS - for Passover:

            Palestine Wines and Cognacs are known the world over for their beneficial qualities, and I take much pleasure to announce that I have secured the sole Canadian agency of the INDEPENDENT WINE GROWERS in the colony "PETACH TIKWAH", and will sell their products at the following low prices":-(abridged) "Sweet Wines: Sherry, Port, Allcante, Tokay, Malaga (at prices ranging from $.85/bottle to $14.00/dozen bottles!); White Wine: Sauterne, $.65/bottle, $7.00/dozen; Claret Wine: Medoc at $.70/bottle, $7.50/dozen; Cognacs: Fine Old - $1.25/bottle, $$13.50/dozen; Very Old - $1.50/bottle, $16.50/dozen.

            I have also a full line of Hungarian, Russian, and Californian Brandies and Wines, such as: Hungarian Shlivovitz, California Grape Brandy, Vishnick (Cherry Brandy), Peach Brandy and Apricot Brandy (Ed. Note: prices were then quoted at from $.95 - $1.10/bottle, etc.); Lipsky's or Yaffa's Russian Spirits, from 60% Sykes 120 proof, at $1.00,  to 90%  Sykes 160 proof, at $1.40.

            NOTE:  The above goods are sold by the best dealers in Toronto, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Quebec, Calgary, Fort William, and Vancouver.

            S.L. NATHANSON, Main Store: 1072 St. Lawrence Boulevard.
          Branches: 18 Ontario St. East, 21 Demontigny West, Montreal, Que.

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THE GRAND TOUR

           In 1913, S.L. decided to make an important, summer-long voyage with his wife and second son Henry, my grandfather, to Europe and the Middle East, sailing on the S.S. Royal Edward on June 17, 1913.

           Henry was a prolific photographer, as witnessed by the number of photos that he took, not only during this summer-long trip, but all through the years.  Always ahead of his time, he was delighted with any new invention.

            The Nathansons landed in Bristol Harbour, England and then traveled by train (at forty miles per hour!) to London. There they met up with (or traveled by ship with) Mr. & Mrs. Blumer and Mr. & Mrs. Zelicovitch, who were presumably also from Montreal.

They continued on to Paris, Versailles, and Marseilles, France.  From there, they went to Alexandria, Cairo and Port Said, Egypt.  One photograph shows the three Nathansons in front the Sphinx with a Dr. Black (possibly another Montrealer).  Following their visit to Egypt, they travelled to  Beyrouth, Syria (according to the boundaries of the time), and then entered Palestine, first going to Metullah (the first Jewish colony in northern Palestine), Rosh Pinah, Saffed, Tiberias, Haifa, Jaffa, Tel Aviv and Petach Tikvah. From there they went to Rishon Le Zion and Jerusalem.                                  
Next, they travelled to the Isle of Samos, the Dardanelles, and then Constantinople (Istanbul)
. Then they travelled to Piatra Neamt in Romania, where they had once lived and where Henry was born. There they visited numerous relatives who were still living there.  The last stop on their whirlwind tour was Vienna, Austria.

            It is not clear as to whether the order listed above of the places visited is entirely accurate, or merely the order of placement of the original photographs in the album, although most of it follows a certain logic.

            In the 1920s and 30s, Henry became one of several small, private builders of residential buildings.  He quickly became known for his honesty and integrity and excellence of his works.

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** PHOTOGRAPHIC INDEX OF 1913 TOUR **

Please left-click on any of the thumbnail photos shown below in order to reach the page you seek.
 


 
LONDON,
ENGLAND

 
BRISTOL & THE
ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE

PARIS,
FRANCE
including VERSAILLES

MARSEILLES,
FRANCE
ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT








 

TEL AVIV, PALESTINE
CAIRO,
EGYPT


 
PETACH TIKVAH, PALESTINE
GIZA,
EGYPT








 
RISHON LE ZION, PALESTINE
PORT SAID, EGYPT

 
JERUSALEM, PALESTINE
BEYROUTH, SYRIA


 
SAMOS,
GREECE
METULLAH, PALESTINE


 

DARDENELLES
ROSH PINAH, PALESTINE


 
CONSTANTINOPLE, TURKEY
THE SHOMERIM








 
PIATRA NEAMT, ROMANIA
SAFFED, PALESTINE


 
JAFFA, PALESTINE
HAIFA, PALESTINE








 



 
VIENNA,
AUSTRIA

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