The land now known as Bathurst Lawn Memorial Park (called the Woods
Cemetery for many years) once belonged to a farmer whose name was
Woods. The Woods farm was purchased in the early 1930s by the Ivansker
Mutual Benefit Society. At the time the chairman of the Ivansker Burial
Committee was Henry Lederman. The Ivansker Society wanted to purchase
cemetery land and their lawyer, Morris Lipton, found this property. Mr.
Woods was willing to sell it for $40,000.00, a lot of money at that time. The
Society raised $2,500.00 and took a mortgage for the balance. Four members
of the society were involved in this transaction, Getzel Cohen, Alter
Myerchick, Shmuel Kaplansky and Shlomo Flodervasser. The efforts and
foresight of these members of the Ivansker Mutual Benefit Society was
fortuitous for a very large part of Toronto’s Jewish community. Initially
forty-five synagogues and societies purchased segments of the cemetery
from Ivansker. In later years other organizations purchased parts of these
segments. By 2007 there were fifty-five separate cemeteries making up
Bathurst Lawn Memorial Park.


In the early years the access to the cemetery was poor. Bathurst Street north
of Eglinton Avenue passed through farmland. North of Sheppard Avenue
Bathurst Street was a dirt road and the bridge across the Don River was
wooden and allowed one car at a time. When the access path into the
cemetery became muddy or snow covered, funeral processions found it
necessary to walk from Bathurst Street while the pallbearers carried the
casket of the deceased to the designated cemetery. In 1956 Harry Elkind and
Phil Gangbar approached Samuel H. Cohen to help arrange for the
construction of paved roadways through Bathurst Lawn. They contacted all
forty-five cemetery owners for their approval to share in the cost of the
paved roadway. Each member organization of Bathurst Lawn sent a
representative to meetings that were held at the Adath Israel Congregation.
Harry Elkind and Philip Gangbar negotiated and signed a contract in the
amount of $25,000.00 for the paving work. This was the first major project
undertaken by the collective participation of all the cemetery owners under
the umbrella of Bathurst Lawn Memorial Park.


On December 20, 1963 Bathurst Lawn Memorial Park was incorporated as a
not-for-profit corporation. The directors at that time were Samuel H. Cohen,
Louis Dean, Harry Elkind and Philip Gangbar. Harry Elkind was a past
president of Adath Israel Congregation and Philip Gangbar was a past
president of Beth Emeth Congregation. Samuel H. Cohen, a chartered
accountant, acted as secretary-treasurer. Besides the construction of the
roadway, this group of dedicated volunteers arranged and oversaw the
purchase of a house, which became the cemetery office, the construction of a
storage facility for equipment and other improvements such as an
underground water supply and storm water drainage pipes.