Clarence de Sola - Residence

1913 - 1920
1374 des Pins Ouest

Clarence de Sola (1858-1920), business tycoon, eminent Zionist, and de facto leader of the Canadian Jewish community, was born in Montreal in 1858. He was the third son of the famous British-Canadian rabbi, Abraham de Sola, leader of Montreal’s oldest synagogue, the Shearith Israel, and Esther Joseph, daughter of Henry Joseph, the patriarch of one of Canada’s most successful Jewish families. Clarence was raised in a privileged environment in the Golden Square Mile, playing lacrosse and football at the High School of Montreal, and hobnobbing with the children of the city’s Protestant and Jewish establishments. De Sola was known in high school as Historicus, for his love of history. As a young man, de Sola went into the produce business with his brothers. He soon began to climb the ladder of success, doing business with British shipbuilding interests and Belgian steel manufacturers, among many others. Close ties with the Liberal government of Wilfred Laurier helped de Sola’s economic interests, and his business connections with Belgium led to that country appointing him its Consul General in Montreal in 1905.

Drawing on the rich de Sola heritage – and that of all Spanish and Portuguese Jews, at an early age, de Sola became actively involved in Montreal Jewish communal life, helping establish a local chapter of the Anglo-Jewish Association to help refugees fleeing pogroms in Russia. Shortly after the first Zionist International Congress in 1897, de Sola was appointed president of the Federation of Zionist Societies of Canada, a position he held until 1919. The chief promoter of the Zionist cause in Canada, de Sola was in touch with other Zionist leaders from around the world, including Theodore Herzl, whom he visited shortly before the latter’s death in 1904. De Sola helped inspire the creation of the Jewish National Fund, which donated funds to buy Jewish land in Palestine. He himself raised the first $10,000 in Canada between 1909 and 1912.

As the leader of Canadian Zionism, De Sola was also the de facto head of Canadian Jewry since no other national Jewish organizations existed at the time. While struggling to maintain his group’s independence from its American counterparts, he took pride in the fact that donations were higher per capita in Canada than in America, and that his organization incorporated all elements of the community, unlike in the United States. He kept tight control of his organization, and after World War I opposed the creation of the Canadian Jewish Congress, whose redundancy and democracy, he felt, would only fragment communal unity and dilute the Zionist cause.

A resident of Montreal for his whole life, de Sola was involved in several local organizations, including the Engineers’ Club and the Montreal Board of Trade. De Sola died while visiting Boston in 1920.

Compiled by Richard Kreitner.



Canadian Jewish Heritage Network - Clarence de Sola page


Azrieli, David, Joe King, and Gil Troy. 2008. Rekindling the Torch: The Story of Canadian Zionism. Toronto: Key Porter Books.

King, Joe. 2009. Fabled City: The Jews of Montreal. Montreal: Price-Patterson Ltd.

Tulchinsky, Gerald. 1992. Taking Root: The Origins of the Canadian Jewish Community. Toronto: Lester Pub.


*Images courtesy of the Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives, Congregation Shaar Hashomayim Museum and Archives and the McCord Museum.