Connect with us
Israel Bonds RRSP

Local News

Mystery of why $725,000 donation to the Simkin Centre was made is likely solved

Neal Karlen
Myer Geller/house at 284 Bannerman
when he attended St. John’s Tech

Readers of this website may recall our story posted a couple weeks ago in which we told about a $725,000 donation that was given to the Simkin Centre by something called the Myer and Corrine Geller Trust.

The donation – which was actually made out to the Sharon Home, was in the form of a $575,000 US cheque. It arrived in August of this year. The only information that the Simkin Centre had about the source of the cheque was that Myer Geller had graduated from St. John’s Tech in 1943, that he went to MIT, became a physicist, and that he was granted several patents.
With that scant information – and with the help of several other individuals, including several readers of this paper, especially Ed Feuer, and someone by the name of Christian Cassidy who read my story about the Gellers on our website and who went to extraordinary lengths to piece together the Geller family history on a blog known as “West End Dumplings”, we were able to amass quite a few details about Myer Geller and his family. Eventually we were led to the conclusion that Myer Geller’s mother, Sarah, must have been a resident of the Sharon Home until her death in 1984.
Based on information available on a variety of websites, including the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada’s archives,,,, and in the Winnipeg Henderson Directory of 1965, along with the St. John’s yearbook of 1943 (that was loaned to us by a reader who had it in his possession, but asked us not to reveal his name), along with information provided by Christian Cassidy, here is what we found:
Myer Geller was born in 1926 (which we reported in the Oct. 28 issue). His parents were Max and Sarah. Max Geller was born in 1887 and died in 1966. Sarah Geller (whose maiden name was Feldman) was born in 1893 and died in 1984. The Gellers were married in 1916 in Winnipeg.
The following is taken from Christian Cassidy’s blog, the “Western Dumpling”: “The earliest mention I can find of the Geller family comes in the 1921 Census of Canada. It shows Max Geller, 30, wife Sarah, 24, and eldest child, Rose, 3, renting a room at 689 Selkirk Avenue, the home of the Peck family.
“The census taker noted that the parents were Jewish and had emigrated from Russia, Sarah in 1912 and Max in 1913. Rose was born in Manitoba ca. 1918.
“Max’s profession is listed as a merchant of produce and eggs.”

Myer’s older sister Frances

The blog also noted that Frances Geller was born in 1922.
At the time that Myer Geller would have gone to St. John’s Tech the Geller family lived at 284 Bannerman Avenue.
Again, according to Christian Cassidy, “Max Geller’s entry in the 1942 Henderson Directory lists him as a travelling salesman. From 1943 to 1945, he is a produce manager. No place of work is ever given.
“In 1946, Max gets into the fur industry as an employee of Elias Reich and Co. fur manufactures located on the 6th floor of the Jacob Crowley Building. He worked there and for its successor, J. H. Hecht, until 1948.
“In 1949 and 1950, Max’s occupation is listed as a “tracker” – no explanation of the job title or a place of work was given.”

Both Rose and Frances Geller married and lived in Toronto. Rose married someone named Louis Lieberman, while Frances married someone named Edward Jordan. We were not able to find any further references to either of the sisters once they left Winnipeg, although we did confirm that Louis Lieberman has died.
We did learn though that Myer Geller did have an illustrious career. Following his graduation from St. John’s Tech, he went to the University of Manitoba, then the University of Minnesota, where he obtained a master’s degree in physics. Evidently he returned to Manitoba for at least a short while because we were able to learn that he crossed into the United States in 1949, became an American citizen in 1950, then went to MIT from 1951-55, from where he obtained his PhD in physics.
Myer Geller married Corrine Taper in 1954 in New York. The Gellers lived at various times in New York, Pennsylvania, and finally California. As we also noted in our Oct. 28 story, Myer Geller’s name was associated with 15 different patents.
We learned that for at least a period of his life Myer Geller worked for a branch of the US Navy known as NOSC (Naval Operations Support Centre). With the help of a genealogist friend of former Winnipeggers Carol and Chuck Faiman we also learned this about Myer Geller: “in 1960 or 1961 he moved from a job at Hughes Products to be a senior scientist at the Solid State Division of Electro-Optical Systems in Pasadena, CA.”
In 1966 the Gellers moved to San Diego, which is where they lived until they both died, Myer in 2016, and Corrine in 2019. They did not have any children.

Here is the final information we were able to learn about Myer Geller’s parents:
Max and Sarah Geller eventually moved to a small apartment at 206 Perth Avenue, although whether they lived somewhere else after Bannerman is not clear. The 1965 Henderson Directory lists his occupation as a parking lot attendant. Max died in 1966 in St. Boniface Hospital.
Now, at this point what I’m writing is pure speculation: Sarah Geller likely remained in Winnipeg. When she died in 1984 she was buried in Rosh Pina Cemetery alongside her husband. Her children all lived in different cities – a situation which is quite familiar to so many of us. We cannot absolutely confirm that Mrs. Geller remained in Winnipeg, but here is what we speculate:  A woman who would have been 73 when her husband died, and with no visible means of support, living in a very modest apartment, would likely have been dependent upon her children for support.
And where did individuals in that position usually end up? The evidence would seem to point to the Sharon Home, at 146 Magnus Avenue. Here we have an elderly widow with at least one of her children earning what must have been a very good income. (The Myer and Corrine Geller Trust eventually donated over $7 million Cdn, altogether, of which the donation to the Sharon Home/Simkin Centre was only 11% of the total amount donated.)
The likelihood is that Sarah Geller ended her days at the Sharon Home; hence the huge donation made to the Sharon Home.
Although we are told that the Simkin Centre did do a search in order to try to determine the basis for the donation they received from the Geller Trust, until now there would have been very scant information upon which an investigation could have proceeded.
We are not certain whether it will be possible to find records that would prove Sarah Geller was a resident there, but according to Shelly Faintuch, daughter of the late Dr. Henry Faintuch, who was executive director of the Sharon Home for many years, her father kept meticulous records of all residents in the home. If those records still exist, they should answer the question whether Sarah Geller did indeed live in the Sharon Home. In the meantime though, we are told the Simkin Centre is preoccupied with other matters, i.e., dealing with the COVID pandemic, and so it is quite understandable that any search for records that might show that Sarah Geller lived at the Sharon Home will have to be put off until the emergency situation has abated.
By no means do we want to indicate that the mystery is conclusively solved; we merely want to show that the trail of evidence which has emerged has led in a direction that could reasonably lead one to conclude why Myer Geller would have wanted to make such a large donation to the Sharon Home.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Local News

Tom Traves: From the north end to the presidency of several Canadian universities

Tom Traves

By GERRY POSNER There haven’t been lot of Jewish presidents of Canadian universities.
To be clear, there have been some, but not as many as one might expect – given how many Jewish academics we’ve had in Canada over the years.
One person who made the short list of Jewish university presidents in this country has been none other than a former Winnipegger – right out of the north end of Winnipeg: Tom Traves. Now retired, Traves had a long and distinguished career in the university setting as President of Dalhousie University in Halifax, serving for 18 years in that position.
Traves’s tenure as Dalhousie president followed a four-year term as Vice- President of the University of New Brunswick. But, if you read the CV of Tom Traves, you can understand how this came to be.
Tom was a graduate of the University of Manitoba with a B.A. ( Hons.) in 1970, followed by an M.A. from York in 1973, and a Ph.D., also from York, in 1976.
Tom began his teaching career at York (where he spent many years) in 1974 as a lecturer, then as an associate professor, from 1976 to 1991. From 1981 to 1983, Tom was the Chairman of the Division of Social Science at York. He was soon appointed, in 1983, as Dean of the Faculty of Arts, where he served until 1991. From York Tom moved to the University of New Brunswick, where he became both Vice President (Academic) and a Professor of History, from 1991 to 1995.
Then, in 1995, Traves was invited to be the President and Vice- Chancellor of Dalhousie University for a six year term. When that term ended, Tom was appointed again for another six year term. And still later, in 2007 – for yet a third term of three years. When that ended, he was renewed for another three year term. Would you not agree that Tom Traves and Dalhousie had a strong connection, to put it mildly? Just to lend credence to this statement, it was during the Tom Traves tenure that enrolment at Dalhousie grew by over forty percent and external research grants and contract income increased by over three hundred percent. Now, those are impressive statistics. Perhaps the most telling assessment of Traves during his time at Dalhousie is a comment made by a former member of the University’s Board of Governors, who noted that Traves had been at the centre of a fund raising campaign which raised over $250 million during his time at Dalhousie, the highest total in the history of the province. When asked about Traves and his successor, Richard Florizone, this board member called them both remarkable individuals: “I would hire them for my company in a minute, and they would make me money.”
To read through the list of books, articles and other credits of Tom Traves is more than the Jewish Post & News could put on its website, as it might overload the system. But for sure some of the highlights of his career (aside from all the boards he has sat on across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia), would be the awards and honours that have come his way. He was the recipient of an award not commonly given to Canadians: the Filosofie Hedersdocktor Honoris Causa, from Umea University in Sweden in 1997, and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal in 2000. Not to be forgotten was Tom’s inclusion on the list as one of the top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada in 2005, 2006 and 2007. There were so many other major awards, culminating in 2014 when he was appointed to the Order of Canada.
With all of that, Traves was still in demand when he retired and moved back to Toronto in 2016. He was asked to be the Interim President of Brock University in 2016 while that university sought out a long term person to fill that position. Once he completed that role, he semi-retired, taking on consulting activities over the last number of years.
How did a quiet unassuming boy, son of Sam and Marjorie Traves (Kay), brother to the late Nancy Traves, a product of West Kildonan, advance so far and so fast? Did he show signs of this kind of superior level of scholarship and leadership in his early days? Some might answer that it was his time spent at West Kildonan Collegiate that spurred him on to greater heights. Was it perhaps his days as an undergraduate at the University of Manitoba (from 1966-1970?) No one can say for sure, but the truth is that Traves had a speedy trajectory upward and even in retirement he has moved along at a decent clip. He is quite active these days, playing Bridge, golf, and now Pickleball. In large part, he and his wife Karen (Posner), my first cousin, (and that connection to the Posner family might be the real reason for his great success) have focused time and attention on their grandson Ben, son of his daughter Julie. There are also trips to the Washington D. C area, where his son Will and his wife live, along with his oldest grandson, Daniel.
In short, the Tom Traves story is just another Winnipeg success story – if the city wishes to lay claim to it: North End Jewish boy makes good in the east. The best part of the whole story is that, if you know Tom, or just met him, you would never have an inkling of his accomplishments, so unassuming is he. That is Tom Traves.

Continue Reading

Local News

Newly-arrived Health Sciences Centre surgeon Dr. Lev Bubis has deep roots in Winnipeg Jewish community

Dr. Lev Bubis

By MYRON LOVE Dr. Lev Bubis, the Health Sciences Centre’s new hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) surgeon, says that he and his family –wife, Amy, and four-year-old daughter, Ada, – are settling in quite nicely in their new home.
“We are really enjoying being here,” notes Bubis who arrived here in early October. “We have a house in south River Heights and we enjoyed being with the family for the High Holidays and Chanukah.”
Bubis is the grandson of the late Morris and Mae Bubis. And, although the young Bubis grew up in Ottawa – family members here include his aunts, Carol Arenson, Adrienne Katz and Harriet Rodin, and their families.
Bubis’s father, Mordy Bubis, left Winnipeg for Ottawa after university and the nation’s capital is where the young Bubis grew up.
He notes that he was interested in pursuing a career in medicine from an early age – although he first earned a B.A. in Philosophy at Kings College in Halifax. He did his medical training at Columbia University.
“I decided to specialize in liver and pancreatic medicine in third year when I got the opportunity to work with Dr. John Chabot, one of America’s leading pancreatic cancer specialist,” Bubis says.
After Columbia, Bubis relocated (in 2014) to Toronto, where he honed his surgical skills in liver and pancreatic surgery at the University of Toronto and St. Joseph’s Hospital. He did a six-year residency at the university, followed by two years of research and two more years training in surgical oncology.
Bubis (and family) arrived in our community in early October to begin his position at HSC. In an interview on the Health Sciences Centre Foundation website “Tell Your Story” section, which was published on December 21, Bubis noted that there were several factors that led him to come to HSC – in particular, the hospital’s commitment to minimally invasive surgery.
“I was attracted by the exceptional team that’s in place at HSC and by the fact that the hospital is really pushing things forward with minimally invasive surgery,” said Bubis in the HSCF interview. “This is where the HPB field is going and it is a real interest of mine. It’s exciting to me that the HSC Foundation is supporting this direction in surgery with capital investments.”
He explained that minimally invasive surgery is “an approach to surgery that typically relies on smaller incisions and instruments. Very small cameras allow surgeons to see their work on video monitors in high definition. Minimally invasive surgery means less pain for a patient, a quicker recovery, and a shorter hospital stay. Among other benefits, shorter hospital stays free up beds more quickly, which reduces the amount of time patients need to wait in the Emergency Department.”
Bubis has also had extensive training in treating neuroendocrine tumors, which can occur throughout the gastrointestinal tract, as well as elsewhere in the body. One of his specialties is the Whipple procedure, an operation to remove tumors and treat other conditions in the pancreas, small intestine and bile ducts. The complex procedure involves removing the head of the pancreas, the first part of the small intestine, the gall bladder and bile duct.
Bubis points out that, at HSC, he is a member of a team that treats patients from throughout Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. He reports that he sees patients at the clinic two days a week, does surgeries one or two days a week and does some endoscopes and teaching.
He is looking forward to a lengthy stay here.

Continue Reading

Local News

‘Put a Yid on It!’ Festival of New Yiddish Culture!

Beyond the Pale - Feb. 8 at the Berney Theatre

By SHIRA NEWMAN – Festival Director I am thrilled to announce the inaugural year of ‘Put a Yid on It’ Festival of New Yiddish Culture, running from February 7 to 11th. I have had the great good fortune of being the producer of this event with the guidance and support of the committee which previously brought us the wonderful festival Mamaloshen.
Like a lot of Gen X-ers, I grew up hearing a smattering of Yiddish as a child, mostly in the words of my Baba. I could not speak a word of it, but when I made my first film 10 years ago, I was for some reason drawn to include Yiddish in it and I started to dive into the history of Yiddish Cinema.
A linguist I know, hearing me wondering where this desire came from, explained to me that an ancestral language will remain ‘written in our bones’ (or unconscious memory, or genes, however we may wish to see it). This resonated with me and started me down a voyage of discovery of this 1000-year-old language and culture.
It is hard to imagine that only 80 years ago eleven million people spoke, wrote, sang, and dreamt in Yiddish. It spanned throughout all of Eastern Europe and spread wherever our people travelled. Never the majority language of a nation state but the language of a pan national community of Ashkenazi Jews ‘scattered among the nations’ enriched by and enriching so many other languages and cultures while still carrying its uniqueness with it.
Since the Second World War, Yiddish has become less common but as any Yiddishist will tell you, the idea that it is dying is wrong (if not complete heresy!). And they are very right. It is spoken by many (largely in the Hassidic community) and is continually being reclaimed by more – as can be seen by talented artists of every generation who make beautiful work inspired by the Yiddish language.
Today there is a lively re-emergence of the warm, funny, poetic language – some call it a new Yiddish Renaissance in the arts, cinema, and music. There are popular films, TV shows, successful web-series, and festivals springing up everywhere. In the world of music, you can find an amazing array of bands putting their own modern spin on classical Klezmer, and others using Yiddish in everything from Punk to Metal, to Psychedelic Rock, to Hip-Hop! Put a Yid on It! Is a celebration of this trend!
On February 7th, at 7:30 pm we will be opening with a free book launch, talk, and reception at The Handsome Daughter (61 Sherbrook Street) for a brand-new book called “Yiddish Cinema: The Drama of Troubled Communication,” featuring authors Jonah Corne and Monika Vrečar. This book offers a bold new reading of Yiddish cinema by exploring the early diasporic cinema’s fascination with media and communication. Jonah and Monika will discuss their book and the history of Yiddish cinema. (Snacks and drinks will be provided).
We have some amazing bands coming! On February 8th, Canadian Folk Music Award Winners, Beyond the Pale will be here from Toronto and will be playing at the Berney Theatre. They are a tremendous fun and lively Klezmer and Balkan Band who are known for their genius musicianship, experimentation, and playfulness. This is not your traditional Klezmer Band – they bring in a world of musical styles including reggae, jazz, bluegrass. Watching them play is truly a tour of world music. They will be bringing Yiddish classics and so much more!

Socalled – Feb. 10

On February 10th, we are partnering with the West End Cultural Centre to bring the brilliant and one-of-a-kind Yiddish (and English), Montreal Hip-Hop artist Josh ‘Socalled’ Dolgin. He will be performing with his band, which includes the mesmerizing vocalist Katie Moore, Balkan trumpet ‘God’ Nizo Alimov, and Michale Felber on bass. This is going to be an incredibly special show. His music is as evocative and moving as it is fun (and danceable).
Socalled is the star of an award-winning feature length documentary (NFB) called ‘The Socalled Movie.’ The video for his song ‘You Are Never Alone’ has been viewed more than three million times. He is truly a cultural phenomenon (and his parents are from Winnipeg!).
From February 7th to 11th, we will be presenting a series of some of the greatest Yiddish films of all time – all restored to beautiful quality. I am extremely excited to see these on a big screen for the first time! This series includes films from the 1930s, which is considered The Golden Age of Yiddish Cinema such as “Yiddle with His Fiddle” (a joyful romp of a musical comedy) on February 7th, “The Light Ahead” (a poignant social commentary) on February 8th, and “The Dybbuk” (a gorgeous Yiddish ghost story) on February 10th. It will also include “Hester Street,” from 1974, (with a Yiddish speaking Carol Kane) on February 11th. All these screenings take place at 2:00 p.m. in the Berney Theatre.
On Sunday, February 11th, we will have some fun closing events! At 10 am come and join us at the Rady JCC for a bagel breakfast and a ‘Bisl’ Yiddish with Professor Itay Zutra. We will be learning some of the MOST expressive Yiddish sayings. At 3:30 pm there will be a reunion for I.L. Peretz Folk School alumni. There will be snacks and time to reminisce!
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or feel free to give me a call at 204.477.7534.

There is a quiet humor in Yiddish and a gratitude for every day of life, every crumb of success, each encounter of love… In a figurative way, Yiddish is the wise and humble language of us all, the idiom of a frightened and hopeful humanity.

  • Issac Bashevis Singer
Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News