I am descended from a long line of merchants living in the Kherson province. When the Russians conquered this region, an ancestor established the overland mail route from the capital, Kiyev, to naval bases on the Black Sea. Honoured by the Czar, he took the family name, Léonov (son of the lion).
In 1889, my maternal Brotman family homesteaded in the Wapella colony. Trained in a yeshiva in his native Galicia, my grandfather, Edel, served as the first congregational Rabbi in Saskatchewan. My book, The Jewish Farmers of Western Canada, derived therefrom.
Born in 1925 in Winnipeg’s North End and educated at the multi-ethnic St. John’s High School, I served in the Canadian army in World War II. Post-war, I studied civil engineering at the University of Manitoba, where I met Faye Matlin. As newlyweds in 1949, we started our first jobs in New Westminster, before continuing to the University of Washington.
In 1952, I founded an international engineering firm in Vancouver. My favourite avocation has been writing the story of the Jewish people in BC. Faye was deceased in 2011. We are survived by three children and two grandchildren.