According to Cyril Leonoff, one of five authors for Pioneer Jews of British Columbia (Western States Jewish History, 2005), the first Jews in British Columbia were adventurers of Polish, Prussian and Germanic origin who arrived in Victoria with gold fever in 1858. By the time Moldavian-born Israel Joseph Benjamin passed through Victoria in February of 1861, Victoria boasted 2,500 white inhabitants, 5,000 Indians and one synagogue. Nonetheless, Benjamin observed, "The beginnings of the city of Victoria are really due to the Jews. For, no matter how many persons streamed to the island at the outbreak of the gold-fever, they scattered again, for the most part, to all corners of the world when their disillusion followed only too quickly. The Jews, however, held their ground, set up tents for residence and booths for shops; for they soon realized that this place had a great commercial future. This was to be deducted, easily enough, from the situation of the island, which lies between the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands, California and China."


Benjamin, I.J. Three Years in American 1859-1862 (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society; New York: Arno Press, 1956). Two volumes. Translated from he German by Charles Reznikoff.

[BCBW 2005] "Jewish" "1850-1900" "Early B.C."