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Irving Snider, officially born Isaac Schneider, was born in London, England in 1903 to Annie and Jacob Snider. Annie was born in Warsaw, while Jacob was born in Odessa. Irving’s parents met and married in London sometime around the turn of the century. After the birth of Irving, the Snider’s stayed in England for two years. During that time period, Irving’s sister Jeanette was born. In 1905, the Snider family sailed to Vancouver.
Irving attended Strathcona School and Britannia High School. While in High School, he joined the cadets. Irving also attended cheder (after school Hebrew classes), and in 1916 he was bar mitzvahed at the old synagogue. While growing up, Irving attended the “Y” camp at Hopkins Landing.
Irving graduated from Britannia High School in 1919 at the top of his class, and he enrolled at the University of British Columbia. During his second year he became a member of the UBC Junior Hockey Team. While on vacation with his mother and sister, he visited the North Pacific College, a dental college in Portland, Oregon. Although he was only 15, he decided to enroll at the dental college in 1920. Irving’s childhood friend, Robert Franks, was also at the college, and Irving and Robert graduated together in 1924.
After graduating, Robert and Irving heard that there were no dentists in the Yukon, so they decided to try their luck. In 1925, Robert and Irving headed to the Yukon with only $200 each in their pockets. According to Irving in his autobiography, when they reached Whitehorse they only had $1 left between them. After a long journey and several stops, including Juneau, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon, Robert and Irving arrived in Dawson City, Yukon where they stayed until Robert left for California in 1937 and Irving left for Vancouver three years later.
During WWII Irving served for four years as a Captain with the Dental Corp. He mainly served in Vancouver, but he also spent time in Trois-Rivières, Quebec and Prince Rupert. Irving was discharged in 1945. After the war, he bought a practice in the old Medical Dental Building.
Irving met his wife Phyliss Reta Nemetz through her father Harry Nemetz who was one of his patients. Irving and Phyliss married in 1947 in Victoria at the Empress Hotel. Phyliss was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on April 22, 1921 to parents Harry and Ann Nemetz. Phyliss was a journalist, although she spent time in New York working in advertising. When she returned to Vancouver she continued her career in journalism as well as working for Godfrey’s Travel Agency and with her father in real estate.
Irving and Phyliss spent much of their time traveling around the world, including spending time on every continent. On many of their trips they played golf, including playing at the famous St. Andrew’s course.
Irving and Phyliss moved to Whytecliff in West Vancouver where they lived for forty years. Irving and Phyliss did not have any children, but doted on their beloved dogs. Phyliss was also known for her love of animals, and was known for feeding and befriending wild raccoons in their backyard (as seen in many of the slides).
They were known for their philanthropy, including giving a major contribution to the new Har-El building. Phyliss was also an active Hadassah member and she donated all of her real estate commissions she earned to Hadassah. In 1994, Irving and Phyliss established the Phyliss and Irving Snider Foundation, a private charitable foundation, for which Louis Brier Home and Hospital was a major beneficiary. Gifts from the Foundation have supported Hillel, Jewish Family Service Agency, the Jewish Community Foundation, The Jewish Historical Society of BC, Hadassah-Wizo, Ben Gurion University, the Technion in Israel and the Vancouver Talmud Torah school.
Phyliss passed away on July 14, 1999. The couple was married for 52 years. Bequests from Phyliss’ estate have gone to several organizations including the United Way and Children’s Hospital. Irving passed away in January 17, 2002 at the approximate age of 99.
Vancouver, British Columbia; Dawson City, Yukon
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Dentists; Photographers; Journalists; Travel agents
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Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia
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Last revised March 17, 2015