O’Kilman Becomes Okilman in Carleton Place and Almonte


photo of Okilman’s store in Carleton Place- Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage museum

On Little Bridge Street was the Thoburn Mill, Dr. Kelly’s house and office, Ben Baker’s store, and a Chinese laundry. Then along that side of Mill Street were some apartment buildings. In the Nontell block on the ground floor was a cafe and also a store run by O’Kilman’s— Who was O’Kilman? There was an O’Kilman in Carleton Place too and when I found out I was gobsmacked. Who was it??

With the rise of Hitler in Germany, efforts were made by the Jewish community and some non-Jewish groups to persuade the government to admit refugees.  They were unsuccessful.  Anti-semitism was dominant within the immigration department and in the Canadian public in 1930s.

In 1932, a man named Max Greenberger petitioned the City Court of the City of New York to change his last name and the last name of two of his four children, to Greene. He was not an immigrant coming through Ellis Island, he was not a young man seeking to escape his Old World roots, nor was he a movie star in need of a stage name. Instead, he was explicitly seeking white-collar jobs for his family members. As he laid out in his petition, “[t]he name Greenberger is a foreign sounding name and is not conducive to securing good employment as a musician”—the chosen profession of his daughter. Additionally, he noted, “the name Greenberger … is not helpful towards securing an appointment as intern in a hospital”—the chosen profession of one son. My husband’s family came over from Russia in the late 1800s and their name was changed from Yaverich to Yaver.

As all members immigrant families faced discrimination in their efforts to get jobs and education, group name-changing became a phenomenon, in the 1930s with entire families all changing their names in concert, sometimes putting as many as nine people on one petition.

So when Oscar Okilman came to Canada from Russia, it looks like some immigration officer put an apostrophe in his name to O’Kilman– or maybe he did it for his children’s sakes. Heprobably had to legally change it back to Okilman. In the early 1930s they are listed in the newspapers and on ancestry.ca as O’Kilman. Their name lost the O and the apostrophe in the late 1940s.

Listed as Hazel O’Kilman on the Levana Society at Queens University ****

NameHazel O’Kilman
Birth Year1913
Estimated AgeAbt 20
Yearbook Date1933
SchoolQueens University
School LocationKingston, Ontario, Canada

Hazel Okilmanin the 1921 Census of Canada


Name:Hazel Okilman
Racial or Tribal Origin:Hebrew
Marital Status:Single
Birth Year:abt 1913
Birth Place:Quebec
Residence Date:1 Jun 1921
House Number:1
Residence Street or Township:Bridge St
Residence City, Town or Village:Town of Carleton Place
Residence District:Lanark
Residence Province or Territory:Ontario
Residence Country:Canada
Relation to Head of House:Daughter
Father’s Name:Oscar Okilman
Father Birth Place:Russia
Mother’s Name:Gosta Okilman
Mother Birth Place:Austria
Can Speak English?:Yes
Can Speak French?:No
Other Language:Hebrew
Can Read?:Yes
Can Write?:Yes
Months at School:9
Municipality:Carleton Place
Enumeration District:97
Sub-District:Carleton Place (Town)
Sub-District Number:49
Enumerator:A. R. G. Paden
District Description:Polling Division No. 4 – Comprising the part of the town south of the Mississippi River and west of Bridge st. and north of the 12th concession line
Neighbours:View others on page
Line Number:3
Family Number:1
Household MembersAgeRelationshipOscar Okilman30HeadGosta Okilman30WifeHazel Okilman8DaughterMoses Lyon Okilman

Canada, Selected School Yearbooks, 1901-2010

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
28 Apr 1931, Tue  •  Page 17
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
10 Oct 1932, Mon  •  Page 9 ( Moses O’kilman_
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
26 Jul 2000, Wed  •  Page 70

That would be Moses Okilman.. read-Mose Okilman–Anything to Add?

Black and white photograph of the IOOF hockey club – The Lanark Old Stars taken on February 17, 1954 at the Beckwith Arena. The team had played against the “Old Pros” in a hospital benefit game.    The men are wearing “C.P. I.O.O.F.” uniforms and hold hockey sticks.  Written in ink at bottom edge: “Feb. 17, 1954”.

Front row (l-r):  Wally Mace, Harry Paquette.

Second Row:  Pete Vallee, Lorne Potter, Dawson MacDowall, Arnie McDaniel, Aubrey Nesbitt, Eddie Nesbitt, Jim Houston.

Third Row:  Howard Little, Jack Bracewell, Watty McIlquham, Ike Smith, Taffy William, Bert Horton, Bill Doyle, Rusty White.

Back Row:  Ed Thake, Mose Okilman, Ross McDaniel, Mick McAllister, Lefty Muldoon, Frank Honeyborne, Raymond Edmonds, Jimmy Rutherford.

Photo from Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

The Herald-News
Passaic, New Jersey
13 Jul 1946, Sat  •  Page 4


‎⁨Devon-Sheridan Senior Adult Center Installs Its Officers On Dec . 2 …https://www.nli.org.il › cgs › 1971/11/25 › article

National Library of Israel │ Newspapers. … Installing officer will be Miss Hazel Okilman , first director of the center . Mrs . Zollie Frank will be the guest soloist ..

***** Levana Society

There were five women in the class of 1884. While each would go on to have a prosperous career  — a writer, a medical missionary, a teacher, a professor and a doctor — their journeys were not without struggle. Their graduation marked an important moment in history and the beginning of a new era for women at Queen’s. 

The Levana Society was formed in 1889; just five years after these women were the first to receive undergraduate degrees from Queen’s. According to the Queen’s website, the society served to “promote the general interest of women at Queen’s,” acting as the University’s own, non-exclusive, women’s alliance. At this time, Levana was the only women’s society in Canada to universally accept all female students — regardless of class, race or appearance.

When Levana was founded, women were only allowed to enrol in arts programs and until 1976, they were a minority at Queen’s. “There was a feeling that women didn’t belong in university because it was outside their sphere. The attitude was that women had to be protected when they came into this environment,” Queen’s Historian Duncan McDowall told the Journal of student life at the turn of the century. 

In their search for refuge, the Levana Society was born as a safe space for women. During the peak of Levana’s popularity, the notion that men and women were to inhabit parallel and distinct social spheres was prevalent on Queen’s campus. Before second-wave feminism pushed for the spheres to merge, Levana prepared women for “societal life” through formal dances, tea parties and beauty contests. Other activities such as basketball and hockey tournaments allowed women to explore athletics while still in a social environment.


Hi Linda. Regarding the Irish who immigrated to Canada, it was told to me some time ago that for some folks, wherever they found work would determine what they did. If they found work in a predominately Catholic business, they were fine, but if they could only find work in a predominately Protestant business or area, they dropped the ” O’ ” from their surname. Frank Blakeley

Also read

Mose Okilman–Anything to Add?

Carleton Place Main Street Fire — Okilman’s

Carleton Place 1940’s —- The Popularity Contest

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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