Prominent Jewish family which settled in Canada toward the close of the eighteenth century. It was descended from Naphtali Joseph, of an Anglo-Jewish family which had come from the Netherlands.

1. Abraham Joseph:

A brother of Henry Joseph (No. 4); followed the latter to Canada some years after he had settled in the country. He became prominent in public affairs.

2. Abraham Joseph:

Born in Berthier, Canada, in 1815; died in Quebec in 1886; son of Henry Joseph (No. 4). He removed to the latter city in 1832, and became a member of the city council. He was a candidate for the mayoralty. During the rebellionof 1837-1838 he served in the Quebec Light Infantry, attaining the rank of major.

Joseph was president of the Dominion and the Quebec boards of trade, president of the Stadacona Bank, one of the founders of the Banque Nationale, and a director of the Quebec and Gulf Ports Steamship Company.

3. Gershom Joseph:

Born in 1821; youngest son of Henry Joseph (No. 4); studied jurisprudence at Toronto University (M.A. and B.C.L.). He practised law in Montreal, but abandoned the profession in 1849 to embark in gold-mining in California. In 1863 he returned to Montreal, and resumed his law practise. In 1892 Joseph was appointed a queen's counsel, being the first Canadian Israelite to attain that distinction. At the time of his death Joseph was president of the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue.

4. Henry Joseph:

Born in London, England, in 1775; son of Naphtali Joseph. His mother was a sister of Commissary Aaron Hart, seignior of Bécan-court. Joseph moved to Canada in 1790, being the first member of the family to settle there, and became connected with the commissariat of the garrison at Fort William Henry, at the mouth of the Richelieu River. Afterward he established a chain of trading-posts from Hudson's Bay to Berthier, Montreal, and Quebec, and he gradually became an important factor in the development of Canadian commerce. He was the first to build and charter Canadian ships for the transatlantic trade, and was one of the founders of Canada's merchant marine.

During the war between Great Britain and the United States (1812-14) Joseph took part in several engagements. After the war his business interests centered in Montreal, where he eventually took up his residence. Here he became deeply interested in Hebrew communal affairs, and was one of the most active members of the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue. He also generously aided a number of non-sectarian institutions. In 1832 he and his eldest son, Samuel, fell victims on the same day to the cholera epidemic. Joseph was married to Rachel Solomons and was the father of a very large family, including four sons, Jacob Henry, Abraham, Jesse, and Gershom, and four daughters, Catherine, Rebekah, Sarah, and Esther. Catherine married Dr. Aaron Hart David, and Esther became the wife of Dr. Abraham de Sola.

5. Jacob Henry Joseph:

Born in Berthier in 1814; eldest son of Henry Joseph (No. 4); married Sara Gratz Moses, a niece of Rebekah Gratz of Philadelphia. He took up his residence in Montreal in 1830. He was prominent in the establishment of the first telegraph-line between Canada and the United States, and was associated with the Newfoundland Telegraph Company. He also took an active interest in Canadian railways and was prominent in financial circles, helping to found the Union Bank, the Ontario Bank, and the Provident Savings Bank, besides being for many years the president and controlling stockholder of the Montreal Elevator Company.

During the Canadian rebellion of 1837-38 Joseph served as an officer in a loyalist regiment sent to oppose the rebels advancing from Lacolle.

Joseph was for some years treasurer of the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue in Montreal.

6. Jesse Joseph:

Born in Berthier in 1817; died in Montreal Feb. 24, 1904; son of Henry Joseph (No. 4). He was the first to establish a direct line of ships between Antwerp and Montreal. In 1850 he was appointed consul for Belgium at Montreal, and in recognition of his eminent services in establishing trade relations between Belgium and Canada was twice decorated by the King of the Belgians. He also maintained very extensive commercial relations between England and Canada.

In 1864 Joseph retired from business and became identified with the promotion of many public undertakings. He was for thirty years president or director of the Montreal Gas Company, afterward the Light and Heat Power Company. He was elected president of the Montreal Street Railway Company in 1884, and was also for many years a director of different telegraph companies and financial institutions.

In 1893 Joseph became president of the Corporation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews of Montreal. He was also a governor of the Montreal General Hospital, and was an active supporter of many other charities.

7. Judah Joseph:

A son of Naphtali Joseph. With his brother Abraham (No. 1) he joined Henry Joseph some years after the latter had settled in Canada. He was a member of the board of the Montreal synagogue, and an active communal worker. After acquiring considerable weath he returned to England.

  • Records of the Joseph Family: Minutes of the Corporation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Shearith Israel, Montreal; Cyclopædia of Canadian Biography, Toronto, 1888;
  • Clarence I. de Sola, contributions to J. D. Borthwick's History and Biographical Gazetteer of Montreal, Montreal, 1892.
A. C. I. de S.
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