‘Like a bolt from the blue’ – Rubinowitz in early Vancouver

by Janet Mary Nicol

“Like a bolt from the blue, and to my profound astonishment, I was on Tuesday afternoon set upon by a number of special constables and arrested,” Israel Rubinowitz wrote from his prison cell in Nanaimo.

It was autumn 1913 when the budding defence lawyer made a plea for his release, penning a letter to Judge Frederick Howay in the midst of a coal miners’ strike on Vancouver Island. Though a Conservative in politics, Rubinowitz offered a passionate, occasionally radical, perspective in British Columbian courtrooms. He grew up in Vancouver, studied at McGill University in Montreal and attended Oxford University in England on a Rhodes scholarship in 1905. He returned to Vancouver and had only practised law for a short time when he found himself in Nanaimo – as both counsel and accused.

The story of Rubinowitz’ tragically short life and dynamic legal work is available in the latest issue of The Jewish Independent (Vancouver) and will appear in full in the historical journal, “The Scribe” at a later date.

Link to story at – http://www.jewishindependent.ca/like-a-bolt-from-the-blue/

dominion-hotel-1904

Above is a photograph of the Dominion Hotel in Vancouver’s Gastown district–past and present. Rubinowitz’ father owned a store at the corner on the main floor for several years and this is where the young Rubinowitz worked as a clerk and accountant while attending school.

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