by Andrea Taylor
Not all of us are born into our families. In my case, and in the case of my adoptive dad, David Gruber, our families are mostly made up of people who chose one another; assemblages of dear friends, and often times their families. I grew up hearing fantastic tales of my dad’s Aunts Sylvia, Ruth, and Jewel Schwartz, and friends and extended families within the Toronto Jewish community. Stories of Jewel’s shop and the artists who moved through their lives, halcyon summers at the family cottage in Bobcaygeon where kids were free to fish and swim and canoe and roam under the watchful eyes of adults, the very best of life, days we would all live for.
When David – who I met when I was just 14 - died in March of 2022, the vacuum of loss he left behind led me on a search for ties to his past. Who he was and where he comes from has become who I am, and where I will go. The reach of my words ends when I think of the day I found these photos of my dad, digitized, and preserved by the Ontario Jewish Archives. His memories were suddenly made real. These documents, and photos of people’s lives, with their loves and their losses are alive in the stories we can tell and pass along. The world is a better place for having had them in it, and I believe it remains good with each remembrance of them.
Andrea Taylor is completing a thesis for a Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management while working with the Canadian Red Cross 2021 BC Floods Recovery Team. She and her rescue dog live next door to her son at their home in the west Kootenays. Photo caption: The Taylor-Gruber family, Hanukkah 2020. Identified from left, Dorito, Josh, Andrea, and David
Caption: Portaits of David Gruber in 1960 (top) and 1955. Photographs by Sylvia Schwartz. Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 80.