King of Spadina, Harry Henig dies at 91 (2000)

Known as the “King of Spadina,” Harry Henig operated a women’s wear store for 30 years and then began a second career as an author. He died recently (2000) at the age of 91.

Henig retired from the Fashion Centre at St. Clair Avenue and Dufferin Street in 1980 and proceeded to write seven books. He finished his seventh book, Prisoner of Destiny, just two weeks before his death, and was already planning another based on the people he met at 100 Canyon Avenue, an apartment building where he lived.

He lived in Hearst, Saskatchewan, and Brantford, Ontario, before coming to Toronto, said his only surviving daughter, Louise Levy, of New York.

“He had a hard life, coming to the new world all by himself, in 1921, at the age of 12, only to find that his father had died and his uncle had cheated him of any money left to him,” Levy said.

“All the royalties from his books, about $30,000, were donated to the Shaarei Zedek Hospital in Israel. The library at Hebrew University is named after my mother, Fanny, and the music room after my late sister, Sheila.”

Henig’s daughter, pianist Sheila Henig, predeceased him in 1979.

His books included one about his daughter, Sheila. One of his best known books was Behind Hospital Walls, about his own experiences in Toronto hospitals. He also wrote a novel.

Henig was a member of Beth Sholom Synagogue, where he sang in the Yiddish choir, and he was a close friend of the synagogue’s former spiritual leader, Rabbi David Monson, his daughter said.

In addition to his daughter, Henig is survived by three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. ♦

This article first appeared in the Canadian Jewish News on September 14, 2000, and appears here courtesy of the family of the late author. © 2012 by the family of the late Ben Rose. 

◊ For some Henig genealogy, see