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.