Farewell to Vilkomir—the immigrant journey of Simon Kirsch

August 11 | 2020

My paternal grandfather, Dr. Simon Kirsch, was born in Vilkomir (now Ukmerge), Lithuania, in 1884 and immigrated to Canada at the age of six. A Yiddish speaker versed in Hebrew, he excelled at English-language school in Montreal, becoming one of the first Jewish faculty members at McGill University. In my recent memoir, The Smallest Objective, Simon plays an important role in the final chapter, where his architectural legacy to Montreal, the city of his youth and adulthood, is revealed. A community leader, a botanist, and a land developer, the grandfather I never knew described himself as “One of nature’s living jokes.”