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Rubin TodresBy GERRY POSNER Sometimes events shape people’s lives; more typically, it’s an individual that can and does change a life. With Rubin Todres, it was a place. That place: B’nai Brith Camp on Town Island in Lake of the Woods.

Ask Todres today about his life (It has some storybook features to it.), and he will tell you none of it would have happened without the foundation of camp.
It all started for Todres at the St. Jospeh’s Hospital on Salter way back in 1942. The third son of Simon and Bessie (Piekarewicz) Todres, he grew up on Burrows, Cathedral and later Airlies, all in Winnipeg’s north end. Todre is who he is because of his years spent in thaqt evnironment, attending first Luxton School, later St. John’s Tech. When Todres was seven, he attended BnNai Brith Camp for the very first time. He was back ever year after that for nearly 20 years. He spent his first nine years as a camper and then another ten on staff, including a number of years as programme director.
What made the camp experience so valuable to Todres was that it wiped away any class differences he night have felt as he grew up in comparative poverty. That Reuben’s oldest brother Sol, took a Masters of Social Work degree and later worked as the full time Director of BB Camp for a number of years no doubt influenced Rubin as he followed a similar path.
Todres’ path to stardom, as he jokingly calls it, was through the Knights club at the YMHA and USY. He was unsuccessful at the University of Winnipeg (then known as United College), but  made a successful detour to  Moorhead State College in Moorhead Minnesota. It was there that he obtained a B.A. degree cum laude. Subsequently, he attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he received his Masters of Social Work.
Along the way Todres was voted into the “Who’s Who” of U.S colleges and Universities. Todres returned to Winnipeg to become the director of teen programming at the old YMHA, and later the director of Camp Playmore. He taught sociology at his old school, which by now had become the University of Winnipeg and, in 1970, married the former Elaine Meller, also an ex- Winnipegger who went on to considerable fame in her own career. After a short stint back at the University of Pittsburgh to complete a Ph. D in social work while his wife obtained her doctorate in political science, Todres joined the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto in 1973, and stayed there for over 25 years. He never looked back.
For a brief time Todres also seved as director of Camp Shalom in Gravenhurst, Ontario. In 1998, however, Todres took early retirment and became a consultant. Sandwiched into all those career moves, Todres also became a father to two children: son Jesse and daughter Lindsay.
But all of this could not have happened, according to Todres, without the lynchpin of BB Camp. It was camp that gave him a direction and purpose and served as a guide for him over a long period. So strong was the pull to BB Camp for Todres that he sent his own son Jesse there for over ten years. Consider that Jesse grew up in Toronto and you realize the hold that the camp had on Todres. Of course, Rubin was busy in other areas such as Professors for Peace in the Middle East, the Social Planning Council of Toronto and more recently as the chair of the organizing committee for the 50th anniversary of B’nai Brith Camp. He even had the true “naches” of leading the sing song with his son Jesse at the reunion. Is it any wonder that Rubin Todres has left money aside in his will to the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba - earmarked for B’ nai Brith Camp through the Book of Life programme in order to pay for camperships for needy applicants? He wants to pay back the  place that meant so much to him as he grew up, where he had many life changing experiences and which gave him the impetus to socialize, sing and generally become a mensch. BB Camp has affected many lives, but few so deeply as Rubin Todres.

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