Jacob Norman, the patriarch of the Goldblatt family, came to Canada at the turn of the century.
He began his first business, dealing in scrap metal and glass in Hamilton, with a horse and buggy. Eventually, he founded International Iron and Metal.
Goldblatt brought many of his relatives to Canada and assisted some of them with employment.
In 1905, Rochel, the first of seven children of Elchonen Goldblatt, Jacob Norman’s cousin, and Raisa Goldblatt was born in Seda, Lithuania, followed by the birth of Tzvia, Wilfred, Sara, Abe, Eli and Labol.
Wilfred, who was born in 1907, was, in 1921, the first of the Goldblatt children to come to Canada, and he was followed by others.
Wilfred’s son, Jerry Goldblatt, the owner of Creekwood Metal Trading, an international metal brokerage house in Hamilton, said his father worked as Jacob Norman’s chauffeur before opening an army surplus business and later, an iron and steel business.
Goldie Vine Newman, Rochel’s daughter, says the descendants of Elchonen and Raisa were always close, and as children, they would gather on weekends for refreshments and games.
“Although many in our family were in the same or similar business and were business competitors, they all co-operated with one another and helped each other,” she says.
Over the years, the family members went in different directions. There were warm feelings when they met, but many of the younger members of the family did not know their cousins.
“My children now live in Toronto,” says Jerry, “and I realized it was important to me that they know their cousins.”
More than 27 years ago, Jerry organized the first Goldblatt family picnic. It has been held every year since, at Hidden Valley Park in Ancaster, near Hamilton.
“The picnic is a place where the younger people can meet one another and new people to the family are introduced and welcomed,” says Jerry, the “chair” of the Goldblatt family picnic.
He gives credit to Newman, “my trusty aide,” and the other volunteers who help with the picnic and a newsletter, The Gontzeh Goldblatts, which keeps the family up-to-date on the happenings in all branches of the family.
There were more than 70 family members, from three generations, at this year’s picnic.
Two spouses of the children of Elchonen and Raisa live in Hamilton, Charlie Eber and Bessie Goldblatt.
“Over the years,” says Newman, “we never charged the elders for the picnic, but they always insisted on contributing — to paying their fair share or more.
“We, the ancestors of the original seven children, grew up reaping the benefits of this close loving family. It is a heritage we want to pass on, and with our annual picnic and newsletter, it is working.”
Jerry Goldblatt adds, “Although we are in many differing walks of life, yet we have something in common — family.”
“We are reaping the benefits of this close loving family.” ♦
This article appeared originally in the Canadian Jewish News and appears here courtesy of the author. © 2004 by Cynthia Gasner