Ansell, David Abraham

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ANSELL, DAVID ABRAHAM (1834–1914), Canadian businessman, Jewish community leader. Ansell was born in London and arrived in Montreal via Queensland, Australia, in 1866. He went into business as an importer of glassware and representative of a firm headed by his father in Frankfurt, Germany. He also became very involved in the Montreal Jewish community and was soon one of the most prominent Montreal Jews of his era. When he arrived in Montreal he joined the fledgling Young Men's Hebrew Benevolent Association, which in 1891 was renamed the Baron de Hirsch Society in honor of its most generous benefactor. Ansell served as the society's president for many years. As a member of the *Jewish Colonization Association he became a promoter of Jewish farm settlement in Western Canada. Keenly interested in issues of education, Ansell helped establish a free school for children in the Jewish community and was prominent in pressing provincial authorities for legislation granting equal rights to Jews in the Quebec elementary educational system.

In politics Ansell supported the Conservative Party and maintained an active correspondence with Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and other prominent political figures. In letters to newspapers and speeches Ansell advocated on behalf of British imperial federation and free trade. He also served as consul-general for Mexico in Canada from 1888 to 1913 and worked to increase trade between Canada and Mexico.


G. Tulchinsky, Taking Root (1993).

[Gerald Tulchinsky (2nd ed.)]