About Cyril Leonoff

Cyril E. Leonoff

A descendent of one of the first Jewish families to homestead in the Wapella, Saskatchewan farm colony, Cyril E. Leonoff (b. February 22, 1925), along with a small group of committed individuals founded the Jewish Historical Society of British Columbia (JHSBC) in 1970.

A civil engineer by profession, Leonoff is also a graduate of the Public History Program at Simon Fraser University. During his nearly forty years with the JHSBC, Leonoff has scribed many publications including An Enterprising Life: Leonard Frank Photographs, 1895-1944 (Talonbooks: Burnaby, 1990), and Bridges of Light: Otto Landauer of Leonard Frank Photographs, 1945-1980 (Talonbooks: Burnaby, 1997). Most recently he published The Rise of Jewish Life and Religion in British Columbia, 1858-1948 (Jewish Historical Society of British Columbia, 2008).

Leonoff has authored and edited numerous books and papers on engineering and historical topics and has won several awards including the McWilliams Medal of the Manitoba Historical Society, the B.C. Book Prize, and the City of Vancouver Heritage Award. In 2007 he received the Distinguished Service Award of the Association for Canadian Jewish Studies for a lifetime of scholarly achievement in the research and writing of the Jewish history of British Columbia and the prairies. In addition to his role as Founding President and Historian Emeritus of the JHSBC, Leonoff is also past-president of the Vancouver Historical Society and has chaired the Vancouver Heritage Advisory Committee.

In 2007, the Jewish Community Foundation established a Cyril Leonoff Fund for the Jewish Historical Society of British Columbia. Donations to the fund can be made by calling the Jewish Community Foundation at 604-257-5100.