SAM

Samuel, the second oldest, was always considered the “intellectual” of the family.

A bright student, Sam attended technical school in Odessa, taking electrical engineering. In all likelihood the school was a large Jewish technical school called TRUD (founded in 1864, later becoming part of Worldwide ORT, a network of Jewish educational and vocational training institutions). TRUD provided most of the professional and technical education to the Jewish youth of the city.

Sam was conscripted into the Russian military, but his older brother Charlie returned from Argentina to take his place. Sam finished his education, and emigrated to Canada in 1910.

Working at an electrical firm in Winnipeg, Sam saved enough to bring his brother Dave to Canada, getting him a job as an electrician’s helper. Charlie followed after completing his military service.

Sam met a teacher named Rebecca Bardach (whose name later became Burich), a highly intelligent and ambitious woman. They married in 1912 and had two sons, Nathan and Hermie. In 1916, Sam and Becky, as Rebecca was called, moved to Watrous, Saskatchewan.

In 1920, the Nemetz brothers formed a partnership with McMillan and Rivers to establish the White House Department Store. Later that year, the partnership was dissolved with the Nemetz brothers carrying on the business until it was sold in 1925.

At the same time, Sam joined his brother David, whom he had trained as an apprentice, and Charlie the entrepreneur, to bring electrical power to the small towns of Saskatchewan. Starting with the purchase of one abandoned and broken down generator, and eventually buying eight other generators, they brought power to 18 to 20 small communities. Selling their company to an American firm, Samuel Nemetz and his young family moved to Vancouver in 1923, settling in Strathcona.

Sam and Charlie became the automobile dealers for Essex, Hudson and Overland motor cars. Losing their dealership in 1928, they then began selling wholesale electrical supplies. After a brief partnership, Sam went out on his own as an electrical contractor, founding Northwestern Electric. The family moved to the West End and later to Shaughnessy.

Sam’s son Nathan (often referred to as Sonny) was greatly influenced by his parents’ love of learning. He completed high school and university in Vancouver and was called to the bar in 1937. He became an outstanding lawyer and prominent Canadian, hailed as the leading judicial administrator in Canada. He was appointed King’s Counsel in 1950 and appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1963. He served as Chief Justice of that court from 1973 to 1979, when he was appointed Chief Justice of the British Columbia Court of Appeal.

Nathan married Bel Newman, the daughter of the owner of Dominion Furniture. Bel later founded the speaker program at the Vancouver Institute and for this received an honorary doctorate from the University of British Columbia.

Sam’s second son, Hermie, following in his father’s footsteps, became an electrical engineer. Both of Sam’s grandchildren inherited the family’s love of education. Nathan’s son, Peter, is a Professor of Commerce at UBC. Hermie’s daughter, Georgia, is a psychologist. There are two great-grandchildren to Sam and Rebecca who live in Vancouver and Toronto.
Samuel died in 1952 and Becky a year later. They are buried in the Nemetz family plot at the Schara Tzedeck cemetery in New Westminster, B.C.