Friday 25 March 2016


ELKHONEN HENSON (November 20, 1888-July 17, 1956)
            He was born in the village of Popova Hora (Popovahora), near Chernigov (Chernihiv), Ukraine, into a family of Jewish peasants.  He studied with itinerant Jewish teachers and private tutors.  In 1906 he moved to Canada, settling in Calgary, where he initially worked in the construction of new rail lines and tunnels, thereafter in 1909 he moved to a farm in Cochrane, Alberta.  From 1914 he was living in Edmonton, where he was one of the builders of the local Jewish community.  Henson later played a major role in Jewish communal and cultural life in Western Canada, especially in the Zionist labor movement of the province.  For a certain period of time, he was active in the Socialist Party and Trade Union Council for Western Canada.  He wrote stories, publicist articles, and travel narratives in: Dos idishe vort (The Jewish word) in Winnipeg; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; Idishe zhurnal  (Jewish journal) in Toronto; and Tog (Day), Forverts (Forward), and Tsukunft (Future) in New York; among others.  He won an award from YIVO for his work, “Farvos ikh bin avek fun der alter heym” (Why I left the old country), published in Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) in New York (1943).  For his story, “Treyder ed” (Trader Ed), he received first prize in a Tsukunft contest for the best story of 1945.  His book Treyder ed was published posthumously (Winnipeg, 1957), 206 pp., with a preface by Sh.-M. Zeltshin.  The book includes stories that depict the lives of people in northern Canada, as well as the pioneer lives of Jewish farmers who helped build the local community.  The book also includes the series “Fun mayn foters mayses” (From my father’s stories) and “Meshumodim” (Apostates).  Henson also published in Anglophone Jewish serials, such as The Jewish Post and Israelite Press in Canada.  He died in Edmonton.

Sources: Dos idishe vort (Winnipeg) (July 20 and August 2, 1956), editorials; Sh.-M. Zeltshin, preface to Treyder ed (Winnipeg, 1957), p. 5; Forverts (New York) (December 1, 1957).
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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