Nathan Phillips Dead at 83

Nathan Phillips, long time Mayor of Toronto and the city’s first Jewish Mayor, died Jan. 7 at the age of 83. He served as Mayor for eight years from 1955 to 1963, the longest period anyone has held this office in the city’s history. Before that he was an Alderman for 28 years.

His greatest achievement was the dogged perseverance with which he promoted the idea of a new city hall and a public square for the city, an idea which was first unpopular but which was later achieved. He instituted a world-wide architectural competition which was won by the Finnish architect Viljo Revell. The city hall with its unique design and the square, appropriately named Nathan Phillips Square, are now among Toronto’s civic show pieces.

Mr. Phillips was among the founders of Toronto Lodge B’nai B’rith, the Jewish Immigration Aid Society in Toronto and the Toronto Hebrew Free Loan Association. A lawyer by profession, he was the youngest to graduate from law school and had to wait several months until he came of age before he was called to the Bar. From his arrival in Toronto as a young man he was a member of the Holy Blossom Temple.

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