Jewish Montreal: Its Midcentury Legacy

On this Travel Pursuit, we will learn about Montreal’s Jewish community, one of North America’s first Jewish enclaves, and its acclaimed literary legacy.

 Shaar Hashomayim synagogue, Montreal

Shaar Hashomayim synagogue

Jews starting coming to Quebec in the 18th and early 19th centuries but remained few in number until the first half of the 20th century. A new cohort of immigrants caused the Jewish population of Quebec to increase by more than 800 percent between 1901 and 1931. Yiddish became the third most prevalent language in Montreal, after French and English. Quebec’s Jewish population continued to grow, peaking at 120,000 in 1971. Nearly all the province’s Jews were concentrated in Montreal, making the city a centre of cultural creativity. This was especially true for its writers who drew on their European roots while absorbing the polyglot culture in which they were living.

We will read selected works of four towering figures. A.M. Klein (1909–1972), the founding father of Canadian-Jewish literature, combines Jewish and French traditions in his poetry. Klein mentored the outspoken poet Irving Layton, né Israel Pincu Lazarovitch (1912–2006), who in turn influenced his friend Leonard Cohen (1934–2016 ), who began writing poetry in Montreal before turning to a career in singing and song writing. Mordecai Richler (1931–2001) was a novelist and essayist whose abrasive but comic satire recounts the lives of the Montreal Jews he grew up with.

Ben's Deli in Montreal

Ben’s Deli in Montreal

As we walk the streets, meet the people, hear the stories, and eat the food of Jewish Montreal, our experience will be enriched by our discussions of a literary voice unique in North America.

Click here for our detailed itinerary from our travel partner Worldwide Quest. All Travel Pursuits operate under the umbrella of our partner, Worldwide Quest, a TICO-certified business. Worldwide Quest arranges the logistics for each trip to complement our literary theme. They handle all bookings/registration and are happy to book flights and help with pre- and post-trip arrangements.



“No matter how long I live abroad, I do feel forever rooted in St. Urbain Street. That was my time, my place, and I have elected myself to get it right.”

– Mordecai Richler


Register Online with Our Partner Worldwide Quest

Montreal, Quebec

September 10–15, 2017

Mordecai Richler, St. Urbain's Horseman, and selected poetry of A.M. Klein, Irving Layton, and Leonard Cohen

Hotel de l'Institut

Ann Kirkland, founder of Classical Pursuits; Stan Asher, host of the programs Arts Notebook on Radio Centre-Ville and The Montreal Jewish Magazine on Radio Shalom; and Eddie Paul, Head of Bibliographic and Information Services at Montreal's Jewish Public Library

C$1995 per person + 10% GST + QST based on double occupancy (approximately)
C$2690 per person for guaranteed single occupancy
C$150 taxes and gratuities per person

Fee includes guides, readings, accommodation, most meals, wine with dinner, discussions, ground transportation, walking tours, talks, excursions, and admissions.

Register Online with Our Partner Worldwide Quest

Ask a Question

Back to Travel Pursuits Main Page

Travel Adventures for the Mind
with The world's best books, art and music as Your guides