A Social Profile of Peddlers in the Jewish Community of Toronto, 1891-1930

Deena Nathanson


The myth of the Jewish peddler in North America stresses
independence, hard work and success as the means to success for
the new immigrant. By tracking the careers of seventy-two
peddlers in turn-of-the century Toronto, a more detailed social
portrait emerges, which notes the affiliations of these peddlers in
networks based on kinship as well as their membership in
various community organizations. Furthermore, a more nuanced
description of vertical social mobility becomes apparent, one
which notes those peddlers who faced difficulties in the upward
climb, as well as those peddlers who failed to achieve any
dramatic improvement in status.

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