Looking Back At The Detroit-Windsor Connection

The Jewish News
Mike Smith

Mike Smith

From the JN Foundation Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History

Many Michigan citizens have connections to Canada, including members of Metropolitan Detroit’s Jewish community. Thousands upon thousands of immigrants to Michigan over the past three centuries have come to the state after spending some years in Canada. For one example, as of the 2016 census, nearly 2 percent of the state’s population has French-Canadian heritage (including this author).

Detroit Jewish Chronicle story on Windsor Jews

Since Detroit was founded in 1701, there has also been constant movement between the city and what is now Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Indeed, one of the interesting aspects of living in Metro Detroit is the connection to Windsor: shopping, dining out, seeing family still living on the other side of the Detroit River or watching Canadian TV shows.

The cross-river connections can also be seen in the pages of the JN. Over the years, one can find numerous advertisements for Windsor stores and restaurants. Our esteemed reviewer of good eats, Danny Raskin, has written about the famed Tunnel BBQ, located — go figure — near the Canadian end of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. Or check out the ads for Boystown-Girlstown clothing store on Ottawa Street.

I wondered when the JN or the Detroit Jewish Chronicle might have first published a story about Windsor Jews. The Davidson Digital Archives did not disappoint. In the Oct. 10, 1919, issue of the Chronicle, there was an article about Abner Weingarden, who had just returned from an 18-month enlistment in the Jewish Legion during World War I. Weingarden had quite the adventure. While on route to Europe, a German submarine attacked his ship, but the ship survived and arrived safely in England. With the 40th Brigade of the Jewish Legion, Weingarden was subsequently stationed in Egypt and Palestine, including spending time in Jaffa, Ludd and Jerusalem. “Palestine is teeming with untold possibilities,” he stated when interviewed upon arrival.

While small in size, the Jewish community in Windsor has been around just about as long as the community in Detroit. I’m sure I’ll find other stories of cross-border connections in the Davidson Digital Archives.

Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.

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