Benjamin "Ben"/Bernard/Bernhard Mozes/Nijveen/Nyveen (1887 - 1963)

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Birthplace: Stadskanaal, Groningen, Netherlands
Death: Died in Montréal, Québec, Canada
Occupation: butcher
Managed by: Jeffrey "Jeff" Nyveen
Last Updated:

About Benjamin "Ben"/Bernard/Bernhard Mozes/Nijveen/Nyveen

Bernard Nyveen was born in Stadskanaal, Province of Groningen, in the Netherlands on October 1, 1887. He was one of a family of seven children and received his education in the city of Groningen, where he attended public school. He proved to be somewhat erratic scholar, whilst excelling in certain subjects such as geography, history, and languages, other subjects left him totally indifferent. As a boy, he had a restless, somewhat of an adventurous nature, which spirit never left him for the rest of his life. When the notion would take him, he would go wandering off into the countryside, forgetting to come home for supper, or for that matter on his way to school would get interested in whatever unusual event he would come across, and skip his classes for that day. Instead of being in school or at the supper table, Bernard would, at times, most likely be found watching a circus or county fair being erected, a cattle market auction, hanging around the harbor and watching ships entering port, being loaded, or discharged, or on a fine spring day playing Robinson Crusoe on some little island at a nearby lake.

No amount of scolding, reprimanding, or punishment from either parents or schoolteachers was of avail, and finally his father decided to curtail his education and take him into his wholesale and retail horsemeat business, where it was hoped that the responsibility of a job would make him settle down. He was quick to learn and adapt himself to the various phases of his father's business, which consisted of slaughtering horses, a small packing plant for cured meats, and a retail butcher store. But again, he got soon fed up with the daily routine in a small town and wanted to go abroad to earn his living in the meat trade. At that time, Germany was the leading country in the packing house field, so his father finally agreed for him to go there.

In those days, a youth of 13 or 14 years of age needed to be an apprentice for 5 years before he could get his work card as a journeyman butcher - and the end of the century saw Bernard in Germany as an apprentice. Working conditions then were far from what they are today, and hours generally consisted from sunrise to sundown. The work was hard and arduous, employers in pre-1914 Germany were harsh and autocratic, harsh taskmasters and disciplinarians, and the accepted method of teaching a young fellow his trade was either to make him or break him. It almost did break him, as, by being small in stature and in a rundown condition, he was seized by an extremely serious attack of rheumatism whilst working in a damp sausage manufacturer's cellar. He was hospitalized, and after receiving his discharge from same, he obtained, after 6 years, his journeyman's card, having worked for different employers the length and breadth of Germany. But, he had a thorough schooling in the meat trade. He also had by this time a lot of experience and excellent qualifications in his trade, but no money. Germany, however, was not the type of country he would care to make his home in and wanted to see what the rest of the world looked like.

The next step he took was to take a job as a butcher on various liners of steamship companies, and this way saw a lot of European and Mediterranean ports as well as New York on the transatlantic service. He liked the way things were done in the United States, and by 1906 stepped ashore in New York to see what he could do for himself there.

In Newark, New Jersey, he joined a rendering company where he shortly became in charge of the department in which animal by-products were manufactured into tallow and tankage and a little later handled the export business of horsemeat for human consumption to Europe. On one of his trips back and forth to Holland, he became acquainted with a Josina van Meer, and on April 13, 1931, they were married at Leeuwarden, Holland.

By this time, he had established his own horsemeat business, wholesale and retail in Holland, and when war broke out in 1914, he decided to remain there until events became more settled. Two children were born, Jack and Max, in 1914 and 1916 respectively. After the war, there was a slump in the meat trade, and he tried his hand at something else. He bought himself a hotel with a licensed restaurant known as the "Groene Weide" in Leeuwarden. This proved to be a lucrative venture as a sideline bought and sold show horses and race horses. He entered same in exhibitions and various race meetings all over Holland and Germany, and although he won many prizes, purses, and championships, this undertaking was far from a paying proposition and in the end lost a lot of money with this sideline and hobby.

He promptly vacated this field and went back to his old standby, dealing in horses for slaughtering purposes and by 1922 saw himself established in Scotland, where he operated a large export business of shipping live horses from ports in the British Isles to the Continent. The various restrictions and tariff walls imposed shortly afterwards by the different European countries made this venture too cumbersome, and in 1924 sold his hotel and restaurant interests in Holland and left for Canada, where in 1924, he opened a horse abbatoir in Longueuil, Quebec. At that time, the fur industry in Canada was going ahead by leaps and bounds, especially in the way of breeding silver foxes on ranches and to a lesser extent, mink. These animals need large quantities of meat in their rations, and horsemeat provided the answer. Horses in eastern Canada are available in large quantities in the fall months, when farmers get rid of their horses after the fall plowing is done.

A limited company was formed under the name of the Longueuil Meat Exporting Company, Ltd. Its directors were Clinton Henderson, Louis Lamarre, Thomes Millette, Sam Pesner, and Bernard Nyveen, who at the same time was plant manager. The plant operated on a seasonal basis, slaughtering thousands of horses every fall. The better cuts of meat were pickled and exported to Europe, and the rest of the meat was boned, packed in boxes, and frozen at public cold storage plants, awaiting shipment by refrigerator car to large fox ranchers and distributing cold storage plant in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and northern Quebec. In 1927, the plant was relocated on the outskirts of St. Lambert, Quebec, and in 1929, Bernard's family joined him there.

The depression afflicted the company like any other business, resulting in a smaller volume of production for a short period, but even with European market completely shut off bu ruinous high tariffs, they soon expanded by capturing the horsemeat trade to fur ranches further afield in the New England states and Ontario, where ranch mink are intensely bred and this weathered the depression successfully.

However, this was still a seasonal operation, from October 1 to January 1 when the slaughtering and processing took place. His initiative sought an outlet for the nine months of the year not utilized by the plant. In 1932, there was a large demand for cheap ocean fares for travel between Canada and Europe. Bernard figured that with his previous connections in ocean freight and shipping, freighters and tramp steamers having spare cabins on board could carry passengers at a cheaper rate than the regular liners charged, even third class and at the same time provide a revenue to the steamship owners. During the navigation season in Montreal, there is heavy traffic of freighters carrying grain to British and near Continental ports such as Antwerp and Rotterdam. He went over to Europe and approached the various British and Dutch ship owners with his proposition, which was well-received. By the opening of navigation in Montreal in 1932, he had chartered exclusive booking rights and spare accommodation on various freighters from different ship owners representing a fleet of well over 200 vessels, whenever they would call at Montreal. At the same time, an office was opened in the Coristine Building in Montreal, and the travel bureau was called the Canadian Travel League. An advertising campaign was launched in Canadian and American newspapers advertising fares to Europe for $55 one way. This new travel service met with a tremendous response. It particularly appealed to Canadians having a lot of time, with limited funds at their disposal. College students, school teachers, professors, retired people wishing to visit old relatives in the Old Country formed the bulk of the passengers. There were also tragic cases like western farmers going back to England, having seen their farms blown away by duststorms, drought, and subsequently ruined by disastrously low wheat prices. The Canadian Travel League was started on an eastbound ocean passenger traffic movement, but it soon became obvious that a westbound traffic was there to be developed, and in 1935, an office was opened in London, England, right on Trafalgar Square with an agency in Rotterdam, Holland. His son Jack, just coming out of high school, was put in charge of the London office, from which office various sidelines were developed in connection with ocean passages such as inland transportation in Canada and United States - hotel accommodations, tours, and even through bookings comprising transatlantic, across America, transpacific, through to Australia. Passages were even booked from England to Churchill, Manitoba, via the newly opened Hudsons's Bay route, and in this respect, the office was the first in the world to book passengers via this route. This new method of one class, low fare travel caught on with the traveling public, and by 1937, the Canadian Travel League had added offices to its organization in St. John's, Newfoundland, Galveston, Texas, and Vancouver British Columbia. In this year, his younger son Max was put in work in this business. Although this is a biography of Bernard, it should be added that in this year, his son Jack married Bernard's private secretary, a Miss Lilyan Firestone.

With the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, the British Admiralty took over all British shipping, and tourist travel came at once to an end. The Canadian Travel League activities stopped completely and the organization suspended its operations.

The Longueuil Meat Exporting Company, Ltd., during all this time, operated on its usual seasonal basis, and Bernard now bought a night spot in Montreal called the Rangers Club on Mountain St. Its operation and the nature of its long night hours conflicted with his interest in the Longueuil Meat Exporting Company, Ltd., and after 1 1/2 years, decided to drop the Rangers Club. In the intervening years, one of the directors of the Longueuil Meat Exporting Company, Ltd. passed away, and the remaining directors, being well advanced in years, showed little interest and even reluctance in expanding the activities of the company.

In 1942, Bernard bought the controlling shared of the company from the other directors. Immediately upon doing so, a cold storage plant with ammonia compressors was constructed, grinding and mixing machinery was installed, widening the scope of production of horsemeat and by-products for the use of fox food. This expansion also made the company independent of public cold storage formerly used whereby a large amount of money was saved every year on cold storage charges. A year later, the plant was further expanded by the construction of a rendering plant which then enabled the company to make the fullest use if all byproducts. It reached thereby the stage where all the products and byproducts were utilized on the premises. The company this way added two more products to their production, namely tallow and cracklings. It also began in a small way to collect from outside butchers fat, suet, and bones in Montreal and the country for use in its rendering plant. For the first time, the Longueuil Meat Exporting Company, Ltd. was no longer dependent on the seasonal run of horses in the fall and began operating on a full, year-round basis.

During the war years, the company kept operating on this basis but was unable to expend due to unavailability of additional machinery, shortage of power, motor vehicles, materials, and labor. His son Jack was in charge of the plant whilst his son Max was serving in the RCAF. The production of tallow was of the highest importance to the war effort, it being used for the extraction of glycerine, which in turn was used in the production of explosives and ammunition.

After the war, plant expansion was energetically pursued, which resulted in the installation of additional high pressure boilers, cookers, presses, and hammermills. A great many trucks were purchased, and additional collection routes were put into operation, covering the entire city of Montreal and country within a radius of 100 miles. Apart from butcher stores, chain stores, department stores, restaurants, bacon and ham factories, wholesale meat distributors, public markets, independent slaughterhouses and meat packers were now being serviced. A 24-hour collection service of crippled and dead livestock on farms was inaugurated, in which animals are picked up promptly at any farm upon receipt of a telephone call by special trucks equipped with power winches. In passing, it should be mentioned that his son Max married a Miss Zelda Ornstein in 1946.

The horsemeat operations declined due to reduced availability of horses and a decrease in fur-bearing animals bred on fur farms. The rendering plant operations, however, expanded to such an extent that its volume of business is six times greater in 1951 then it was in 1945.

At the time of writing these lines in 1951, Bernard is president of the company, his son Jack vice president and general manager, and his son Max plant superintendent. Further expansion is contemplated with a view to erect a cannery for the production of canned dog food, a new killing floor, coolers a pickling cellar to reopen the edible horsemeat trade with Europe, as well as modernization of the conveying equipment to handle raw materials in the rendering plant.

In the past 5 years, Bernard is able to take things easier and, in the company of his wife, passes the winter months in Florida, goes on a Mediterranean cruise, or wherever his fancy takes him. He nevertheless takes a very active interest whenever he sets foot in the plant and can usually be found near a horse being dressed, a cooker being loaded, or a batch of cracklings being processed into meat meal. He can also be found hiding himself in a butcher store in Montreal, observing unseen how one of the company's fat buyers go about their business in weighing off the butcher's fat and bones. As the collection of fats and bones is highly competitive, his main job with the company is, by his own choice, to acquire new accounts from the company's competitors and knows personally today almost everyone int he meat business in Montreal, better than 1000 strong.

In his spare time, he enjoys a man-sized dinner, cigar, and a glass of Dutch gin, one a day of the latter two, according to his doctor, but it is believed he slightly exceeds his quota. He also shows a lively interest in his two grandsons, Donald 11 years and Teddy 6 years, and seems to be not only very anxious but actually impatient to see them take their place in the company, and takes great delight in talking "shop".

He likes parties, especially family dinners and on festive occasions, he can usually be seen at the head of a reserved table in a restaurant or night club, presiding over a dinner party consisting of his wife, his sons and their wives, plus other relatives, out of town business friends, and key personnel of the plant.

Today, he is regarded as a highly successful man in his community, but not having forgotten the lean years, he generously donates to charitable causes, hospitals, and welfare work.

- from "Biography of Bernard Nyveen", by Capt. C.A. van der Eyk, presented to Bernard on his birthday in 1951

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Ook heeft er een Bernhard Nijveen gewoond, een Jood, die slager was geweest in de Breedstraat. Dit was een klein kereltje.

Also, there's a Bernhard Nijveen lived a Jew, that butcher had been in the Breedstraat. This was a small boy.

't Kleine Krantsje, 23-02-1974

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Ook Bernhard Nijveen, een slager uit de Breedstraat, had hackneys en deed ook veel aan tuigen...

Also Bernhard Nijveen, a butcher from the Breedstraat, had hackneys and did a lot of vehicles...

't Kleine Krantsje, 05-03-1977

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In de Breedstraat heeft ook nog een paardeslager gewoond, een Nijveen.

In Breedstraat also has a horse butcher lived a Nijveen.

't Kleine Krantsje, 11-07-1981

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Verder zien we op de achterground de Wijde steeg die op de Voorstreek uitkwam met het hoge gebouw waarin ik geboren ben. In dat huis was beneden een stal met daarin een slachtplaats voor paarden van slager Nijveen uit de Breedstraat.

Furthermore we see on the ground behind the wide alley on the Voorstreek came with the tall building where I was born. In that house was down a barn containing a slaughterhouse for horses from the butcher Nijveen Breedstraat.

't Kleine Krantsje, 21-09-1985

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Jammer, erg jammer daarentegen, dat Bernhard Nijveen nu niet meer met zijn "Luxe Paardenhandel" aan de Nieuweburen zit. Anders zou het hebben kunnen gebeuren, dat we daar nog eens een knol hadden gekocht. "Heeren Paardenhouders" adverteerde Bernhard, die er kennelijk van uitging, dat zijn klanten al één of meer edele viervoeters hadden, "wenscht u een solied paard, wendt u dan tot ondergeteekende - levering van alle soorten paarden".

Shame, shame, however, that Bernhard Nijveen no longer sitting at the New Neighbors with its "Luxury Horse dealers". Otherwise it would have happened, we once had bought. Had a tuber "Lord Horse keepers" advertised Bernhard, who clearly presumed that his clients had been one or more noble quadrupeds, "wishes you a solied horse, contact a undersigned - supply of all types of horses."

't Kleine Krantsje, 01-01-1994

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ca. February 1955 - ca. May 1958, Bernard lived at 3410 Atwater Avenue, Montreal.

Bernard and his wife Josina would winter in Miami Beach, Florida.

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Benjamin "Ben"/Bernard/Bernhard Mozes/Nijveen/Nyveen's Timeline

1887
October 1, 1887
Stadskanaal, Groningen, Netherlands
1913
April 13, 1913
Age 25
Leeuwarden, Friesland, Netherlands
1914
February 12, 1914
Age 26
Franeker, Franekeradeel, Friesland, The Netherlands
1916
June 7, 1916
Age 28
Franeker, Franekeradeel, Friesland, The Netherlands
1918
December 19, 1918
Age 31
Leeuwarden, Friesland, Netherlands
1963
1963
Age 75
Montréal, Québec, Canada