Cohen, Lyon

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COHEN, LYON (1868–1937), Canadian businessman, Jewish community leader. Cohen was the most eminent Montreal Jew of his time. He was born in Poland and immigrated to Montreal with his family in 1871. A successful businessman, Cohen began as a coal merchant and dredging contractor. He added a brass foundry and a major Montreal men's clothing manufacturing company to his business holdings. He eventually became head of the Montreal Men's Clothing Manufacturers' Association and led this organization during the bitter labor strikes of 1916 and 1917, finally agreeing to union demands for better working conditions.

Cohen was also associated with virtually all the major causes in the Jewish community's development. In 1897, Cohen, with Samuel Jacobs, founded Canada's first Jewish newspaper, The Jewish Times. The paper provided the Jewish community with a window on the rest of the Jewish world, a forum for debate, and a tool for educating new immigrants. He joined the drive to obtain equal rights for Jews in Quebec elementary schools, headed the Baron de Hirsch Institute, and spearheaded efforts to create the Federation of Jewish Charities. He presided over the Canadian Jewish Congress and committees to aid World War i sufferers in Eastern Europe. Cohen was active in the *Jewish Colonization Association, the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society, the Montreal y.m.h.a., and other welfare efforts; he served for many years as president of Sha'ar Hashamayim synagogue.

[Gerald Tulchinsky (2nd ed.)]