A Reluctant Welcome for Jewish People


The positions held by Canada’s most intellectual French-language daily, Le Devoir, with respect to the Montréal Jewish community and Judaism more generally have been one of the most discussed historiographical topics in Canadian Jewish history. A number of works written by Anglophone authors cite Le Devoir as typical of French Canada’s ideological defensiveness during the 1930s and its inclination to adopt a hostile position towards Jews.

However, until now, no serious analyses existed supporting or disproving this thesis. That is precisely the task undertaken by Pierre Anctil in his exhaustive analysis of Le Devoir (1910-1947), from the founding of the newspaper by Henri Bourassa until the death of its second director, Georges Pelletier. What place did Jews occupy in Le Devoir’s editorials and how, exactly, are they perceived?

Between 1910 and 1947, approximately 200 editorials were devoted to Jews and Judaism in Le Devoir—approximately 2% of the total number of editorials written over that period. Sixty of those, of great historiographical significance, have been reproduced here in their entirety along with annotations. These editorials shed light on the way the nationalist Francophone elite viewed the Jewish presence in Montréal, the German Nazi State and anti-Semitism, and the Shoah.

This curated collection of editorials, along with Anctil’s in-depth analysis, provide a much clearer idea of the roots and the extent of anti-Semitism in the pages of Le Devoir.

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