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Lyon Cohen

2019-08-20 04:04:02
Lyon Cohen
BornMay 11, 1868
Budwitcher, Poland
DiedAugust 17, 1937(1937-08-17) (aged 69)[1]
Known forco-founder of the Canadian Jewish Times
Spouse(s)Rachel Friedman
ChildrenNathan Bernard Cohen
Horace Rives Cohen
Lawrence Zebulun Cohen
Sylvia Lillian Cohen

Lyon Cohen (1868–1937) was a Polish-born Canadian businessman and a philanthropist. He was the grandfather of singer/poet Leonard Cohen.


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Philanthropy
  • 3 Personal life
  • 4 References


Cohen was born in Budwitcher, Poland, to a Jewish family on May 11, 1868.[2] He immigrated to Canada with his parents in 1871.[2] He was educated at the McGill Model School and the Catholic Commercial Academy in Montreal.[2] In 1888, he entered the firm of Lee & Cohen in Montreal; later became partner with his father in the firm of L. Cohen & Son; in 1895, he established W. R. Cuthbert & Co; in 1900, he organized the Canadian Improvement Co., a dredging contractor; in 1906, he founded The Freedman Co. in Montreal; and in May 1919, he organized and became President of Canadian Export Clothiers, Ltd.[2] The Freedman Company went on to become one of Montreal’s largest clothing companies.[3]

In 1897, Cohen co-founded with Samuel William Jacobs, the Canadian Jewish Times, the first English language Jewish newspaper in Canada.[4] The newspaper promoted the Canadianization of recent East European Jewish immigrants and encouraged their acceptance of Canadian customs[3] as Cohen felt that the old world customs of immigrant Jews were one of the main causes of anti-Semitism.[3] In 1914, the paper was purchased by Hirsch Wolofsky, owner of the Yiddish language Keneder Adler, who transformed it into the Canadian Jewish Chronicle.[3]

He died on August 17, 1937, at the age of 69.[1]


Cohen was elected the first president of the Canadian Jewish Congress in 1919 and organized the Jewish Immigrant Aid Services of Canada.[4] Cohen was also a leader of the Young Men’s Hebrew Benevolent Society (later the Baron de Hirsch Institute) and the United Talmud Torahs, a Jewish day school in Montreal.[5] He also served as president of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim[3] and president of the Jewish Colonization Association in Canada.[4]

Personal life

Cohen married Rachel Friedman of Montreal on February 17, 1891. She was the founder and President of Jewish Endeavour Sewing School. They had three sons and one daughter:

  • Nathan Bernard Cohen, who served in the World War as Lieutenant; he married Lithuanian Jewish immigrant Masha Klinitsky and they had one daughter and one son:
    • Esther Cohen and
    • singer/poet Leonard Cohen.[5][6][7][8]
  • Horace Rives Cohen, who was Captain and Quartermaster of his battalion in World War I;[2]
  • Lawrence Zebulun Cohen, student at McGill University, and[2][9]
  • Sylvia Lillian Cohen.[2]


  1. ^ a b Lyon Cohen, Canadian Jewish Leader Dies at 89 [sic] (PDF), New York City: Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 17 August 1937, p. 6, retrieved 21 May 2019
  2. ^ a b c d e f g The Quebec History Encyclopedia: Lyon Cohen retrieved April 22, 2012
  3. ^ a b c d e Kreitner, Richard. "Lyon Cohen - Freedman Company". Museum of Jewish Montreal. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Cohen, Lyon Archived 2012-03-23 at the Wayback Machine Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives
  5. ^ a b Newspapers of Jewish Montreal" (page 3), Jewish Public Library Archives.
  6. ^ The International Who's Who 2004 retrieved April 22, 2012
  7. ^ Cohen, Leonard (24 May 1985). "The Midday Show With Ray Martin". ABC (Interview). Interviewed by Ray Martin. Sydney. Archived from the original on 24 February 2006. Retrieved 1 October 2008. My – my mother was from Lithuania which was a part of Poland and my great-grandfather came over from Poland to Canada.
  8. ^ Leonard Cohen Biography Archived 2014-09-11 at the Wayback Machine: Leonard Cohen was born to a Polish father and a Lithuanian-Jewish mother in Quebec in 1934.
  9. ^ Canadian Jewish News: "Earliest Canadian-made chanukiyah discovered" November 26, 2012
Preceded by
President of the Canadian Jewish Congress
Succeeded by
Samuel William Jacobs