Zebulon Franks
Zebulon Franks

January 30, 1863March 16, 1926 (63 years old)
Hometown: Vancouver, BC
January 30, 1863March 16, 1926
(63 years old) | Vancouver, BC

Life Story

Zebulon Franks was one of the first Jewish men to settle in Vancouver and considered one of the founding members of the Orthodox community. He was known as “the first Jewish religious leader in Vancouver.” He was the founding member and president of the Sons of Israel Congregation, and led the first Jewish community services in Vancouver.

Zebulon Franks was born in November 1863 in Kirovograd (near Odessa), Ukraine. Franks’ father was the head rabbi of the synagogue. In 1881, a period of intensified religious passion, severe riots broke out in the town, marking a space of pogroms that struck the Jews of southern Russia. Zebulon, a 17 year old Talmudic scholar, Franks escaped the massacre of his family by hiding in a woodpile behind his house.

He made his way across the Austro-Hungarian border, where he joined a group of other Jewish refugees, including the Jacob Blonde family and their sixteen year old daughter Esther. They journeyed to New York and then onto Winnipeg in the spring of 1882, among the first party of Russian Jewish refugees to arrive in Western Canada. Zebulon first worked on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway and married Esther Blonde. Zebulon and Esther were one of the first to arrive in Vancouver in 1887 upon the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

A brilliant, well- educated man, Franks is regarded as the first leader of the Orthodox community. The earliest Orthodox services organized by The “Agudace Achim Society” were held in his home and general store, first called “Y Franks” and later Y Franks Appliances, located on Water Street. In 1907, an Orthodox congregation, B’nai Yehuda, was officially established with Zebulon Franks as president.

Although the original house no longer stands, Zebulon and his family lived at 651 East Georgia Street (then called Harris Street) from 1903 – 1911.  He had 6 children with Esther Blonde and an additional 6 children with his second wife Yetta Halperin, making him a father of 12 children total. 

Marriages and Children

Zebulon had 12 children by two wives, Esther Blonde (1865 - March 8, 1897; married 1884) who were:

Bess 3/17/85 - 2/14/1956 married Abe (AC) Fleishman

Sayde 5/12/86 - 11/1983 married Isaac F. Jacobs

Rose 10/2/89 - 2/1963 married Ralph Meyers

Abe 7/91 - 1979 married Esther Saul

Myer 8/12/94 - 3/12/1948 married Florence Rostein

Leah 5/19/95 - 1953 married Harry Troupe

His second wife was Yetta Halpern (1877 - 1/7/1963) Married May 9, 1898 whose children were:

Sam 1899 - 2/1929 married Eva Carse

David 9/9/1901 - 10/12/1966 married Nona Finegold

Robert 12/28/1902 - not married

Miriam 9/25/1905 - 7/22/1958 married David Starkman

Monte 6/14/1906 - 10/19/1998 divorced

Annabelle 3/17/08 - 2/28/1981 married Joseph Ross

Zebulon's father, Abraham Labe Goodyovitch was a High Rabbi in Elizavetgrad.

A Daughter's Poem

               My Father
My father had a hardware shop
Tools and such and stoves galore.
To me this seemed the vastest place,
That he just termed, "the store".

I can't recall myself just then---
But I remember, him.
He'd often pat my head and smile
Or chuck me 'neath the chin.

As persons stepped inside the door
To saunter or to rove---;
My father stepped right up and talked
And soon they'd buy a stove.

I often used to follow
And linger where he stood
While he demonstrated stoves
And the "customer" said "good".

And standing by so quiet
I thought my father grand
He never once forgot me
As he'd reach to clasp my hand.

His hands were ever warm,
As they sheltered both of mine.
My hands were always cold,
---He'd warm them mighty fine.

But now he's gone forever
And I'm often very sad---
To have his goodness sever,
From a world that he made glad.

In the heights of Heaven's Realm
He surely does abide---
Ofttimes, his hand is on the helm---
Of affairs, here by my side.

He goes and comes into my thoughts
And I've a feeling grand---
That he stands in Future Portals
And extends to me his hand.
                                            Leah Troupe