Dora Till receives inaugural Primrose Award, 1980

The following is the summary of an article about Dora Till that appeared in the Canadian Jewish News in 1980. Till (1896-1987) came to Toronto with her family in 1900 at the age of four and was active within the city’s Jewish community for more than 60 years. Early on, she belonged to the Boot and Shoe Society and the Herzl Girls Club, both social clubs for girls. Among her many other community roles, she served on the boards of the Family and Child Service Bureau and the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Toronto in the 1920s, and later was on the board of the United Jewish Welfare Fund. She also helped found the Bronte Mothers and Babes Rest Home. She and her husband, Morris Till, a clothing manufacturer, had two children, Sigmund and Cecile; Sigmund died in 1938 at age 11.

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Dora Till receives inaugural Primrose Award

Dora Anna Till, who had been involved in the organizational life of Toronto’s Jewish community for more than half a century, was named the recipient of the first Primrose Award, the Canadian Jewish News announced in a story on October 16, 1980.

The award entailed a sum of $1,000 that the honouree could donate to the charity of his or her choice. Upon learning that she had been chosen for the honour, Till said that “The award is not only for me, but for that army of women who give most generously of their time and energy and talents on behalf of those who need help.”

Till was born in New York city as one of six children of Max and Yetta Tobias, and brought to Toronto as a child; the family lived on William Street, later known as St. Patrick Street. The family was involved in many Jewish causes and, like many Jewish families, were strong proponents of Zionism.

“I was brought up in an atmosphere of mitzvah,” she said. “Our home was open to so many in need. I often wondered how mother found room for them all. She was mother to everyone on the block.”

She married Morris Till in 1916 and became involved in the Hebrew Maternity Aid Society, which was very active after the flu epidemic of 1918. She helped to found the Mothers and Babes Summer Rest Home in Bronte, Ontario, in 1920; the facility was relocated to a site on Lake Simcoe, near Barrie, in 1941. Till served as president of its board of directors until 1945.

She was also chairman of women’s division of United Jewish Appeal in the early 1940s, and active in Hadassh, the United Jewish Welfare Fund, the Primrose Club, the Brunswick Avenue Talmud Torah, the Y, and the Beth Tzedec Sisterhood.

In 1951, Abe Posluns asked her to oversee the furnishings and décor for the Baycrest Geriatric Facility then being planned. When it opened in 1954 she became the first president of the ladies’ auxiliary.

The CJN article noted that Till was still in charge of the furnishings at Baycrest in 1980, and was still active in numerous other community roles. “I haven’t bought a rocking-chair yet,” Till told the newspaper.

The Till family have long had an association with the Primrose Club, the paper reported. The late Morris Till had been an active member of Primrose in the 1930s, later served as the club’s president, and was named honourary life president in 1959. ♦