United Bakers

United Bakers Dairy Restaurant traces its roots back to 1912 when it was established by a young couple from Kielce, Poland. Aaron Ladovsky arrived in Canada in 1907. In 1911, he married the former Sarah Eichler, who was also from his hometown. The couple maintained a strong connection to their Polish roots and recognized the need for a place that would serve traditional Jewish and Eastern European cuisine while adhering to the dietary laws of kashrut. The following year, in 1912, they rented a storefront in the Ward and started their new business—United Bakers; that same year, the couple had twin sons named Samuel and Herman.

The restaurant quickly gained a reputation for its delicious baked goods, dairy dishes, and kosher offerings. United Bakers soon became a central hub for the local Jewish community, providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere for patrons who sought delicious food reminiscent of their Eastern European heritage.

Immigration from Europe continued to increase, and the community began their westward move into Kensington Market. In 1920, United Bakers followed, moving their restaurant to 338 Spadina Avenue. It attracted customers from the garment factories and small shops along Spadina as well as residents in and around the market. During this period, United Bakers also served as a hub for political and social activities, attracting clientele from the nearby Labour Lyceum. In 1924, Aaron’s brother, Luzer, arrived in Toronto and joined the operation as a baker. Luzer’s wife and Sarah’s niece worked at the restaurant as waitresses. In those formative years, the twin sons also helped the business by delivering fresh bread and buns from a horse-drawn cart.

In the postwar era, United Bakers experienced significant growth. Herman took over the family business after Aaron passed away in 1960. The restaurant continued to cater to a diverse clientele, offering a broad range of dairy and vegetarian dishes, while maintaining its commitment to kosher preparation. From the 1950s to 1970s, United Bakers continued to attract people from all walks of life and became a popular destination for family gatherings and celebrations, further solidifying its place in the hearts of Jewish Torontonians. By the mid-1970s, Herman’s two children, Philip and Ruthie, had joined the business and today, Philip’s son Nathan is at the helm, making him the fourth generation of Ladovsky’s to run UB.

In 1984, the Ladovskys relocated the restaurant to Lawrence Plaza in North York. The new United Bakers embraced modernization and adapted to changing culinary trends while preserving its cultural heritage. The restaurant also underwent renovations to provide a more contemporary dining experience while retaining its classic charm.

Economic fluctuations, changing consumer preferences, and the shifting demographics of Toronto in the twenty-first century presented both opportunities and obstacles for United Bakers. The restaurant managed to weather various challenges thanks to its commitment to quality, tradition, and community engagement. It has continued to serve as a gathering place for generations of customers, providing a taste of Jewish culture in the heart of Toronto. In May 2012, the restaurant celebrated its hundredth anniversary.

Archivist Notes

United Bakers continues to remain deeply involved in the Toronto Jewish community. It has been an enduring symbol of Toronto’s multiculturalism and has also played a significant role in Toronto’s culinary landscape. More importantly, it stands as a testament to the resilience of Jewish immigrants and their ability to create lasting legacies in a new land. The records in the United Bakers collection at the OJA range from documents to photographs to menus, not only tracing the evolution of the restaurant itself over the years but also the long story of Jewish life in Toronto.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *