“What I liked about [my family] was that they were decent, honest, friendly; I liked the way they went about their business, their life…They brought honor to the world” Leonard Cohen

Under what conditions did your family come to Canada?

Around 1860. My father’s family came from the part of Poland that is now Russia. My mother came from Lithuania in the 20s. 10 years after the revolution. She was 18 or 19. Their ancestors were very different even though they were both from the same branch of Judaism. My mother married my father in 1927. She never spoke of Lithuania. In her circle, it was very important to be Canadian and to make references to the past disappear. There were no feelings of nostalgia. Even though she spoke with a slight accent, I never felt that for my mother something had been lost forever, abandoned. It is surprising but I never think of my family. I never think of it anymore. My mother’s presence is very strong in my heart, particularly since she died. One thing that I owe to my family is that it exposed me to a form of culture and thought but always in moderation. There were none of the fanatical elements that I see in many other similar families. I am grateful to my family. I don’t feel that it was oppressive, or that I missed something. There was always fresh air. I thought the people in my family were good people. What I liked about them was that they were decent, honest, friendly; I liked the way they went about their business, their life. I’m not talking about their personal relationships with their wives and children. Those were as disastrous as in any family. But they were honest people. They brought honor to the world.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From Comme Un Guerrier by Christian Fevret (Throat Culture magazine, 1992). Thanks to Maarten Massa for the photo of a very young Leonard Cohen playing catch with his father, Nathan, at the family’s vacation home while his mother watches. Note: Originally posted Dec 23, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric