A travelling exhibit of Jewish history has passed through 20 cities from coast to coast and is now in Vancouver.

Part of Canada's 150th anniversary celebrations, the exhibit is now housed at the Vancouver Public Library's central branch, highlighting the Jewish community's contributions to the country and the city.

Michael Schwartz, director of community engagement at the the Jewish Museum and Archives of B.C., said it's important to showcase diverse histories in Canada.

"As the advocates of our own community, we like to share our own history and hope that other communities will do the same," Schwartz said. "This country was built by people from all backgrounds."

Although the Jewish community in Vancouver is not as big as those in Toronto or Montreal, making up only about one per cent of the population here, it has a long history.

"There is much to celebrate, the community has been here for a very long time, since the earliest days, and it has made countless contributions," Schwartz told Rick Cluff, CBC host of The Early Edition.

VPL Jewish history

The travelling exhibit is currently at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library and will remain there until Nov. 30. (Clare Hennig/CBC)

Jewish history in Vancouver

The exhibit, called The Canadian Jewish Experience: Celebrating the rich history of Jewish life in Canada, showcases some of those contributions.

Nine panels trace through the community's history, from early patterns of Jewish migration in the 19th century to contemporary arts and culture.

In B.C., Schwartz said, the first Jewish migrants arrived during the gold rush and settled in Victoria in 1858. Within five years, the first synagogue was built.

In the 1870s, the Jewish community grew in Vancouver and people like David Oppenheimer, who later became mayor of Vancouver, began to arrive and build the city.

"Today, we know [Oppenheimer] as the 'Father of Vancouver,'" Schwartz said.

Strathcona started out as a working-class neighbourhood where many Jewish families settled in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Schwartz said, while more affluent families moved to the West End.

Laurel Street Parade

Staging a parade on Laurel Street, circa 1960. At that time, many Jewish families were moving to Vancouver's Oakridge neighbourhood. (Gail Dodek Wenner/Jewish Museum and Archives of B.C. )

After the Second World War, Oakridge became one of the more popular Jewish neighbourhoods.

"That's still kind of the emotional heart of the community," Schwartz said.

The exhibit is on display at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library until Nov. 30.

To hear more, click on the audio link below:

With files from The Early Edition.