Quick facts

Story kiosk location

  • Southeast corner of Dalhousie and Clarence

Important dates

  • In 1922, Joseph Torontow purchased the building at 296 Dalhousie St. and opened Torontow Hardware Co.


  • No

Who lived here?

  • Joseph Torontow ran the store with his wife, Dora. He worked as a tinsmith in the back of the building while she helped manage the hardware store.

Take a look diagonally across Dalhousie Street, can you picture a hardware store on the corner?

If you listen carefully, you may even be able to hear the sounds of clanging tin from times gone by (or maybe it’s just downtown construction).

The Torontows were a prominent Jewish family in Ottawa that came to Canada from Belarus in the early 20th century. The Torontow Hardware Company Ltd. was founded in 1916 by Joseph Torontow. The building seen in this photograph was bought in 1922, with a hardware store in the front and Joseph’s tinsmith shop in the back. This photograph, taken in 1930, shows us the façade of the store, with Joseph’s employees and children Norman, Faye, Sarah, and nephew Saul standing outside.


Originally from Chashniki, Belarus, Joseph Torontow arrived in Halifax, Canada in 1904. Within the next two years, his two brothers and mother moved to Canada. In 1906 Joseph began working for the Canadian Pacific Railway, and in 1909, the family moved to Ottawa. Joseph began working as a tinsmith, travelling around Canada to do so, and even worked on the roof of the Chateau Laurier. The Torontows owned many businesses in the ByWard market, including a grocer and a fruit and vegetable store, affectionately named “Krispy Celery”.


Outside of work, Joseph was a very involved citizen of Ottawa, being on the Board of Beth Shalom Congregation, treasurer of the Chevra Kadisha, member of Rockliffe Lodge, Odd Fellow. He was also a member of B’nai B’rith, Ottawa and Montreal Sick Benefit Societies, the Board of Trade, Men’s Canadian Club, Ottawa Hebrew Free Loan Society among others.


This photo was taken in the late 1930s by Hugh Levendal (1904-2000) a Hungarian immigrant who arrived in Ottawa in 1928. He took many photos of Jewish storefronts in the Byward Market held by the Ottawa Jewish Archives.


Acknowledgements: This story was researched by Carleton public history MA student, Meranda Gallupe-Paton.