Godfrey, Sheldon, 1938-

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Godfrey, Sheldon, 1938-

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Sheldon (1938-) and Judy (1940-) Godfrey were born in Toronto. Sheldon Godfrey received a Master of Arts in Canadian history from the University of Rochester in 1962, a Doctor Juris from the University of Toronto 1964 and was called to the bar in 1966. Judy Godfrey practiced as an occupational therapist since 1961, and she pioneered the diagnosis and treatment of perceptual handicaps in children. In addition to several philanthropic, environmental and civic initiatives that began in the early 1970s, the Godfreys have been leaders in the preservation of Ontario's built heritage, and as prolific researchers and writers on the Jewish experience in pre-Confederation Canada. They have undertaken the restoration of commercial heritage buildings in Ontario, focussing on Toronto since 1975, leading to several national and local awards in the early 1980s. They were founders of the Town of York Historical Society in 1983, have been active in other community-based heritage organizations, and have played a leading role in strengthening government policies for heritage preservation. During the 1990s, the Godfreys, with Sheldon serving as Chairman of The Heritage Canada Foundation, led an effort to redefine the popular understanding of heritage to include intangible subjects as well as historic buildings, taking an inclusive approach that reflected Canada's diverse multicultural population. In addition to drafting new heritage mission statements for Heritage Canada in 1993 and for the City of Toronto in 1999, the Godfreys have written extensively on heritage and, during the 1990s, on the Jewish experience in Canada prior to Confederation. Their research on this topic formed the basis for two books: "Burn This Gossip: The True Story of George Benjamin of Belleville, Canada's First Jewish Member of Parliament, 1856-1863" (Toronto, 1991); and "Search Out the Land: The Jews and the Growth of Equality in British Colonial America, 1740-1867" (Montreal, 1995), which won several awards as a result of its contribution to Jewish and multicultural history. Sheldon Godfrey was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1998.


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