Moscoe, Harry

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Moscoe, Harry

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      • Moscoe, Harris Reuben

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      Harris Reuben Moscoe (1905-1987) was born in London, England on December 1, 1905. He was the second child of Nathan Moscovitch and Esther Kaufman whose other children were Herman and Rebecca. The family immigrated to Toronto via Halifax, where they arrived on December 20, 1913. The Moscovitch family then included Nathan’s second wife (also named Esther) and her four children, Millie, Harry, Albert, and Phillip. As there were now two “Harry’s” in the family, they gave Harris the middle name of Reuben and he thus became known in Toronto as “Ruby.”
      In the 1920s the family changed their name to Moscoe, except their father, Nathan Moscovitch, who kept his original family name. Nathan had been a hat and cap manufacturer in England and established a similar business in Toronto operating under the name of “London Hat and Cap Ltd.” The business prospered, with the family moving from 43 Grace St. to 513 Palmerston Avenue, a large, single family home on this prestigious street.
      Harris attended Grace Street Public School and Harbord Collegiate, from which he graduated in 1926. He graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School and was admitted to the Bar of Ontario in September 1930. From 1931 through 1934, Harry and his brother Herman practiced law together as the firm of Moscoe and Moscoe, situated at 100 Adelaide St. West.
      In Toronto, Nathan Moscovitch had become an active member of the Hebrew Men of England Congregation. During the 1920s and 1930s he served in many official capacities, including President. After admission to the Bar, Harry followed in his father’s footsteps, joining the synagogue Board of Governors along with his brother, Herman. Later he also served as Secretary-Treasurer.
      In 1935, frustrated by Toronto’s depressed economy, brother Herman moved his law practice to Schumacher, a suburb of Timmins, in northern Ontario. At that time Timmins had a growing Jewish community and a boom in the gold mining industry. Herman then convinced Harry to move to Kirkland Lake, which by then also had a booming mining industry and a growing Jewish community. On February 28, 1936, Harry moved to Kirkland Lake with his wife Adele and son Sydney. He immediately set up a one-man legal practice and became actively involved with the 125-family Jewish community and its synagogue and Rabbi. In 1937, a second son, David, was born to the Moscoe family. Their daughter would be born in 1943.
      In 1941 the United Mine, Mill and Smelters Workers Union began a strike at all of Kirkland Lake’s mines. The mine owners then allowed the mines to flood. The town’s economy collapsed, as did Harry’s law practice. In early 1942, he moved to Montreal and began working for the Canadian Jewish Congress, Eastern Region. There he became the Executive Director of the CJC Eastern Region War Efforts Committee.
      In June 1944, Harry resigned from the Committee and moved his family back to Kirkland Lake. The economy had not, however, fully recovered. The Jewish population had shrunk to around 95 families. The Rabbi stayed, but the only kosher butcher left within the year, forcing residents to order all kosher food from Toronto. Harry became active, once again, in both the Jewish and general community. He was, for many years, Secretary of the Adath Shalom Synagogue Board and also very active in B’nai B’rith. He also became active politically, working for the local Liberal Member of Parliament, Walter Little. Harry was appointed a part-time Prosecutor under the Wartime Price and Trade Board Act Regulations, and also appointed both Chief Returning Officer for the federal elections for the District of Timiskaming and also Chief Census Officer for the District.
      By 1951, Kirkland Lake’s gold mines were depleted and the Jewish population had shrunk to 65 families. In 1952 Harry took on a case for a family whose son had been fatally shot by a local policeman. The trial was before a Supreme Court Judge whose court found the police at fault, but could only award a maximum of $500 to the family. The local Police Chief was very upset with the result and thereafter, whenever Harry appeared in the local Magistrates’ Court, he always lost his cases. The Chief finally told Harry that he could never win another case in Kirkland Lake. “We don’t need your kind of people here”, he stated.
      By the spring of 1955 Harry was forced to move his family back to Toronto. He found employment with Joseph Newman, Q.C.,whose office was at 4 Albert St. After six months he leased space from another lawyer, Carl M. Herlick, Q.C. In 1956, Herlick, one of Toronto’s first Jewish lawyers, retured and turned over the remainder of his cases to Harry.
      Harry also reconnected with the Hebrew Men of England Congregation, where he did manage to pick up a few clients. In 1958, he convinced his oldest son Sydney, who was still articling, to join him. They shared an office in Herlick’s suite at the “Manning Chambers,” a four-story building on the southwest corner of Queen and Bay streets. In 1959, both Moscoes moved their office to 88 Richmond St. West, bringing Mr. Herlick along with them. Sadly, Mr. Herlick died soon after building problems forced a further move next door to the Victory Building at 80 Richmond St. West. The Moscoe's practice prospered for the following twenty years until Harry’s retirement.


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