Morris Norman

Morris Norman was born in Germany in 1946. His parents were Hejnoch (Harry) and Jadwiga (Jesse) (nee Kaisman), both Holocaust survivors from Poland. During the Second World War, Jesse survived by being hidden for four years in the attic on a farm owned by a non-Jewish family. After the war, Morris and his parents lived in the Lechfeld Displaced Persons Camp near Augsburg, Germany until immigrating to Canada around 1954.

The family first arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax before moving on to Toronto. There, they lived with Jesse’s relatives, then on their own on Christie Street. Harry and Jesse eventually purchased a home on Clifton Avenue in Bathurst Manor where they lived for the next 50 years. Morris lived with his parents at this residence until his marriage to his wife Julie.

Morris’s passion for collecting began early with an interest in stamp collecting. This quickly led to a life-long pursuit as an avid collector of Canadiana, specifically Judaica. He purchased lots at auction and donated them to the Ontario Jewish Archives, as well as other institutions such as Brock University, The City of Toronto Archives, Library and Archives Canada and McMaster University. Morris’ focus on collecting and preserving was his way of acknowledging the life his family had built from the devastation and loss forced on them during the Holocaust.

The Morris Norman collection is as eclectic as Ontario Jewry itself. It consists of a large number of individual items including photographs, publications, artifacts, posters, sound recordings, and ephemera like calendars, receipts, flyers, ink blotters, promotional items, and business cards. There are also records documenting the Franklin family, owners of a large amount of property in Toronto in the late 1800s and early 1900s; radio and television scripts written by Wayne and Shuster, Henry Karpus and Russell Bradley; a collection of Nat and Lou Turofsky photographs; and records documenting Berul Sugarman, a concert violinist and orchestral leader whose career spanned from the 1940s until the 1980s.

Archivist Notes

The Morris Norman collection is both a joy to sift through and an important source of information for researchers. Ephemera, an often overlooked archival resource, are items that, by design, are meant to be used and then discarded. Unlike legal documents, photographs, meeting minutes, and the like, ephemera is a transitory record not a permanent one. Items of ephemera are not meant to record for posterity the decisions or transactions of the record creator. However, in many cases, they are the only remaining evidence of the people, organizations and activities that make up Ontario Jewish history. For this reason, Morris Norman’s focus on ephemera – the everyday items that fill in the blanks in the Jewish narrative, that elicit a sense of wonder and nostalgia, that act as evidence however marginal, are in fact, important records to understanding Jewish life in the province.

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