FSWC Commemorates 90th Anniversary of Canada’s Worst-Ever Antisemitic Riot

August 16, 2023

News Release

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Toronto (August 16, 2023) – Today, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) marks the 90th anniversary of the infamous 1933 Christie Pits Riot in Toronto.

Fueled by antisemitism, violence erupted following a baseball game at the Christie Pits park at which one of the teams was mostly Jewish. After Nazi sympathizers unfurled a large banner with a swastika, fighting quickly ensued as Italian residents came to the defence of Jewish residents during the six hours of brawls and beatings. Considered one of the largest race riots in Canadian history, it took place mere months after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany and amid widespread antisemitism in Canada.

FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt issued the following statement on the anniversary:

“The Christie Pits Riot serves as a reminder that Toronto and all of Canada was not, and is not, immune to hate. The riot was a pivotal moment in Canadian history that highlighted the division and bigotry that existed, with minority groups facing overt displays of intolerance. At the same time, it showcased allyship between the Jewish and Italian communities that refused to stand idle in the face of Jew-hatred. Today, we continue to see a rise in antisemitism and other forms of hate and are reminded of how much more work must be done to build a more inclusive society. On the 90th anniversary of the Christie Pits Riot, we must honour and reflect on the lessons learned from this moment in history, including the importance of standing united against hateful sentiment and violence targeting communities.”

Today, FSWC will be participating in the Rally Against Racism event commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Christie Pits Riot, hosted by Toronto City Councillor Mike Colle.