Featurette: The forgotten impact of George Masoud on Kingston

From the mountains of Syria to Princess St.

George Masoud's ice cream shop on Princess St.
George Masoud's ice cream shop on Princess St.
Photo supplied by Gordon Dueck

Between 1901 and 1911 was the biggest wave of immigrants in Canadian history. Among them was George Masoud.

Masoud arrived in Canada from Syria in 1901 as a young man of about 18 or 19 years. For his first job, he joined his uncle and male cousins as a peddler.

Despite knowing only Arabic upon arrival, Masoud travelled between Kingston and Bath, to sell small items so he could earn a living.

Eventually Masoud transitioned out of peddling and sold ice cream. He later got married to a young girl named Jeanette who worked in his shop.

When the First World War rolled around, he won a contract with the Canadian military to provide ice cream to the troops.

According to Professor Gordon Dueck of the Jewish Studies department, it’s around this time that George Masoud started making some serious money.

For many years, he and Jeanette ran a successful ice cream shop on Princess St., where locals would go on on a warm summer day.

By the 1940s, Masoud had had enough of the ice cream business, and he and his wife sold their shop to enter the world of real estate.

Fairly quickly, Masoud became one of the biggest landlords in Kingston. According to Dueck, his rents were 15 to 20 per cent lower than any other landlords. Dueck said he also didn’t charge rent in December because he wanted his tenants to have more money to celebrate Christmas.

Being considerably wealthy later in his life, Masoud began to invest in the community that gave him so much. He donated money to all of the hospitals, with Hotel Dieu naming a playroom after him. He helped to build a mosque in London, Ontario, and he sponsored a little league hockey team in Battersea, Ontario.

Having quite a bit of money and no children when he died in 1958, Massoud left his estate to causes close to his heart. 

He gave $350,000 to his home town in Syria, another $100,000 to the city of Kingston to give to the poor, called the ‘George Masoud Benevolent Fund.’ This fund gave out money until 10 to 15 years ago.  

While Massoud is long gone, the impact he had on this community shouldn’t be forgotten.  

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