549 DUNDAS STREET WEST
Simon’s Book Store first opened in 1912 at 74 Elizabeth Street, in the heart of St. John’s Ward, where many new Jewish immigrants first settled at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. The Simon family gradually moved their business west, first to 173 Dundas Street in 1919, then later, in 1934, to Dundas Street and Kensington Avenue—a move representative of the broader westward migration of Toronto’s Jewish community.
Etta Simon ran the bookstore together with her husband Ephraim (“Frederick”). From 1939 when Ephraim died until the store’s closing in 1954, Etta ran the store on her own which was not uncommon in the Market.
Etta’s daughter Rae was a working woman herself, employed throughout the 1930s and 1940s as a bookkeeper and stenographer for B. Tator & Sons, a Jewish-run rubber manufacturer located in St. John’s Ward. In 1950, Rae married a Jewish artist and Holocaust survivor, Henry Weingluck, who had recently opened a gallery on College Street.
In the years following the Second World War, Canada began to ease its restrictive immigration laws that had closed its doors to Jewish immigration during the Holocaust—a policy considered the worst of all refugee-receiving nations. These post-war changes led to the arrival of Holocaust survivors from all over Europe, resulting in a new surge of Jewish residents and businesses owners in the Market.