Hyman's Book Store
412 SPADINA AVENUE
Hyman’s Book & Art Shop served as a cultural hub for debate and dialogue for clientele from across the political spectrum. In the early twentieth century, the bookstore stimulated the intellectual life of scholars, community leaders, and Jewish immigrants alike. It offered a place of study for Toronto’s Jewish community and sold many books in Yiddish and Hebrew, as well as Judaica, stationary, and school supplies.
In 1925, Ben Zion Hyman and his wife, Fanny Hyman (née Konstantynowsky), opened Hyman’s—the same year Fanny gave birth to their son Gurion. As one of the first modern Jewish bookstores in Toronto, Hyman’s played a significant role in shaping the cultural landscape of Kensington Market.
Ben Zion studied as an electrical engineer in Odessa and Toronto, but he struggled to find professional work due to antisemitic hiring practices. Unable to find work in his field, the avid bibliophile and his business-savvy wife ran the bookstore. The family lived on Spadina Avenue until 1972, when Fanny passed away.
Along with running the bookshop, Ben Zion taught Hebrew and translated documents part-time. To avoid customers giving multiple copies of the same gift, the bookstore even started a bar mitzvah registry! He also began a book-lending operation, which led to the establishment of Toronto’s Jewish Public Library. Hyman’s Book & Art Shop donated many books to the library.