1910 – Sails from Vancouver B.C. to Sydney, NSW, Australia

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Steamship Zealandia, 1910


The first documentation we have of Sam Bonar’s life outside of Kishinev finds him arriving in Australia in 1910. The initial leg of Sam’s journey which took him from Bessarabia to Canada is unknown. But sometime in the fall of 1910 he departed from Vancouver, BC on the steamship TSS Zealandia, and arrived in Sydney NSW on November 23rd. Sam was not the first resident of the Pale of Settlement to make his life there. (More history on the sailing tables of the Pacific)

The earliest wave of Jewish emigration to Australia had occurred some 22 years before the era of Kishinev massacres. These immigrants consisted primarily of peoples from the Baltic and from the southwest of Imperial Russia also escaping rampant anti-Semitism and an earlier wave of pogroms that began in the wake of Tsar Alexander II’s assassination on March 1, 1881.

By the time of the formation of the Australian Commonwealth in 1901, a total of 3,358 Russians (Jews from the Pale of Settlement) were resident in the newly created country. Included were 1,262 in New South Wales, 954 in Victoria, 454 in Queensland, 251 in South Australia, 400 in Western Australia, and 37 in Tasmania. Most of these early immigrants would have traveled west by boat from Odessa to England and then south across the Atlantic, around Cape Horn and on to Australia. In 1903, however, the main line of the Trans-Siberian railway opened and travelers had passage east from Moscow to the port of Vladivostok and then southward on to Australia. (View the map of eastern coast of Imperial Russia showing the port city of Vladivostok)

In 1880 the Imperial Russian Volunteer Fleet initiated service from Odessa to Vladivostok and a Vladivostok to Vancouver, BC service started shortly after 1908. Certainly, the latter route could have been used by Sam to reach Canada.

The period when Sam arrived in Vancouver coincides with the latter stages of the Alaska-Yukon Goldrush and the first annual Pacific National Exhibition, a state fair showcasing Vancouver’s agriculture and economy.


Vancouver BC, Canada 1910



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