Paul Matoff

Bienfait, Saskatchewan, Canada

Bio of Paul Matoff

Brother-in-law of Sam and Harry Bronfman, Paul Matoff, was murdered in the CPR Station Telegrapher's Office, on Oct 4, 1922 in Bienfait SK.

Shot through one of the windows to the right of the picnic table

View inside where Matoff was shot

Matoff was an employee of the Regina Wine and Spirit Company, which was owned by the Bronfmans.

Paul Matoff
b- 1887, in Russia
d- Oct 4, 1922
age 35 when he was killed.

buried in Shaarey Zedek Cemetery, plot 2B-5-1, 230 Armstrong Ave., Winnipeg MB

Resident of Estevan for a few years before his death.

Lived at 1309 3rd St. in Estevan

Survived by his widow, and 2 children.
2 girls, age 6, and other, a year and a half.
Muriel Beatrice Matoff
Millicent C. Mattoff

Immigrated in 1905, naturalized in 1909

Married Jean Bronfman, July 10, 1914, in Winnipeg MB
b- Apr 16, 1892, in Brandon MB

daughter- Muriel Matoff
b- age 6 in 1921, in MB

Mrs. Matoff had travelled to her brother, Harry Bronfman's home, on 16th Ave. in Regina, and never heard of her husband's death until she arrived there.
Matoff's body was shipped to Winnipeg, via Regina. One article said his original home was Moscow Russia, but his parents lived in Winnipeg MB. when he died.
Matoff was President of the local Branch of the B'Nai Brith Society in Estevan.

He immigrated in 1905

Matoff's father was Samuel (Sam) Matoff
b- 1856 in Russia
d- Nov 13, 1927, in Winnipeg, age 74.
His mother, Olga Matoff, nee ?
b- 1861 in Russia
d- ?

1916 the family lived in Last Mountain SK


1. brother- Michael (Michal?) Matoff
b- Mar 29, 1886 in Yekaterinoslav, Southern Russia
d- Aug 3, 1967 in Vancouver BC, age 81

Michael's wife- Ida Marantz

Michael Matoff was a semi famous Russian Violinist. A Violin Prodigy at the age of 12, He toured the Dominion with a Madam Pauline Donalda, in May/June 1927.
He came to Canada 15 years earlier, Feb 14, 1912, via Southampton/New York, residence Montreal, age 25, 11 mo. on board SS Olympic. shown as a returning Canadian.
from Ekaterinoslav (or Yekatermaslav) in southern Russia. This then could be the birth place of Paul Matoff. I believe Michael came to Canada first in 1903.
The ship manifest in 1912 says 1906, and another index agrees, in 1906 also an Isaac Matoff and a O. Matoff left Liverpool to Canada.
Michael later went into the travelling Salesman occupation, from a clothing business out of Winnipeg. Sept 10-13, 1913 he performed in Winnipeg.
Mar 16, 1914 he performed at the concert hall in the Hotel Fort Garry. Shown as a permanent resident of the City of Winnipeg at that time.
Apr 9, 1925 he broke some bones in his hand and it was feared he would not play again. He was in business in Grandview MB at that time.
1938 he was living in Vancouver, where his daughter Sonia married. In 1958 he lived at 322 Water St in Vancouver

MATOFF, Michael, the celebrated Russian violinist, who came to Montreal from London, Eng. with Madame Donalda's company, is the son of Isaac Matoff, of Montreal. He was born in Yekaterinoslav, southern Russia in 1886 and received his musical education in Warsaw and London. Unmarried, he will reside with his parents in Montreal. Mr. Matoff will give a concert in Montreal in January, accompanied by the popular pianist, Miss Sophie Myers. He will then tour the United States
(The Canadian Jewish Times, vol. 10, no. 1 [30 Nov. 1906])

MATOFF, M., the Russian violin virtuoso, is about to leave Montreal to take up residence in Toronto. “The loss to this community by his removal will be very great for he is not only a musician of rare and highly cultivated talent, but a gentleman whose many amiable qualities have endeared him to all who have come in contact with him.”
(The Canadian Jewish Times, vol. 10, no. 10 [5 April 1907])

MATOFF, Michael, who has recently returned from Toronto has opened a violin school in his home, 44 St. Louis Square. “Mr. Matoff has, for some years been a professor in the famous “Hambourg Conservatory”, of London, England, where the remarkable success of his pupils have proved him to be an instructor of the highest ability.”
(The Canadian Jewish Times, vol. 10, no. 14 [31 May 1907])

June 21, 1915 Michael was going to Southey SK, to visit his parents, so now we know where Paul's parents were in 1915.

In 1910 Michael Matoff owned a General store in Southey SK.

2. Sister- Ida Matoff
b- 1895 in USA

3. Sister- Sonia Matoff
b- 1915 in SK

4. brother? Samuel Matoff
b- abt 1903, d ?
married Malka Perl Levi, Dec 1, 1925 in Winnipeg

Family Members above from 1916 SK census
note below Michael Matoff in one article refers to his father as Isaac Matoff, not Sam, so not sure about Isaac. maybe Samuel Isaac Matoff was his dad's full name?

In July 1921 Paul Matoff gave evidence on the stand as Assistant Manager of the Liquor Exporters Ltd, who had a warehouse in Gainsborough.
4 Americans from Omaha Nebraska were charged with robbery of the Warehouse. Arthur Henshaw, Leroy Compton, A. B. Shelton, and Axel Pearson.
They supposedly wrote a bad cheque for liquor under the name of H. D. Myers.
Later they allegedly broke into the warehouse after a liquor buy, and stole other cases of liquor. Did these fellows come back for revenge?
They threatened Matoff they would get even with him.
I found more names, (spellings), associated with this trial Tom Kelly, J. Shelton, Axel Pierson, and Bill Connelly.
The trial took place in Omaha.
This article says the warehouse was in Bienfait?
Tom Kelly, for one, was brought back to Canada and served time in the Prince Albert Penitentiary.
It was claimed Matoff was persuaded against his will to go to Omaha.

Another theory Matoff was paid back for an allegedly load of watered down booze, sold to US Bootleggers.

Matoff supposedly testified against other American Hijackers, who were convicted of hijacking a car load of Bronfman Booze.

And still another theory, a rival bunch of liquor Export dealers were sending the Bronfmans a message to share the district in the Exporting of Liquor to the States.

Paul Matoff was the brother-in-law of Harry and Samuel (Sam) Bronfman (1889-1971) who made Canadian whiskey and allegedly sold it during prohibition to gangs in the US. The Bronfman family allegedly delivered booze from Canada to the Purple gang, Moe Dalitz in Cleveland, Arnold “the Brain” Rothstein, Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Maier Suchowljansky, aka Meyer Lansky (alias “little enforcer”).
Luciano was quoted as saying-
“Sam Bronfman was bootleggin' enough whiskey across the Canadian border to double the size of Lake Erie”
Harry and Samuel Bronfman owned the Bienfait Boozorium at the time, and Paul Matoff worked for them.
Alex Ronyk's Pool hall was the Bronfman Boozorium, per the “Grass Roots” book.
Bronfman's of Seagrams Whiskey fame, got their start in Yorkton.
Most of the Bronfman family, from Sam onward, were born in Brandon Manitoba.
They had 8 children. 4 sons, 4 daughters,
Their Father and Mother were,
Ekiel* Bronfman and Mindel “Minnie” Elman, who fled from Czarist Russia in 1891.
The family came from Bessarabia, then part of Russia, where making whiskey was a way of life.
(Bronfman literally means “whiskey man” in Yiddish.)
*Yechiel was a Russian tobacco farmer. His name was anglicized to Ekiel.
Ekiel Bronfman died Dec 24, 1919 in Winnipeg MB
Mindel (Minnie) Bronfman, nee Elman, died Nov 10, 1918

At the time of the murder, Matoff rented a home in Estevan, at 1309 3rd St.
Matoff was married to the Bronfman's oldest sister Jean (alt- Jeane) Bronfman
Jean was born- Apr 16, 1892 in Brandon MB
Mother shown as Mindel (Minnie) Elman
Jean Bronfman married Paul Matoff, July 10, 1914, in Winnipeg MB

Jean Matoff, age 29, a widow, was staying at the Winnipeg Royal Alexander Hotel, when she left to go to Santa Monica CA. ,Oct 1923, thru Blaine WA port.
Brother- Allan Bronfman, 16 Rushkin Rd, Winnipeg, was nearest relative.

sibling of Jean-
Bessie Bronfman,
b- Mar 11, 1893 in Brandon MB
Bess married Harry L. Druxerman, Apr 6, 1916, in Winnipeg MB

Samuel (Sam) Bronfman married Saidye (Sadie?) Rosner June 20, 1922 in Winnipeg MB
b- Dec 9, 1896, in Plum Coulee, MB
she died July 6, 1995, age 98, at her home in Montreal Quebec.
Her Mother is shown as
Presellia (Priscilla?) (Presallie?) (Prissilla?) Berger,
b- 1876 in Odessa Russia.
d- 1951 in Winnipeg MB
Father- Samuel “Sam” Rosner,
b- Feb 24, 1870, in Bessarabia Russia,
d- Oct 19, 1952, at his home, in Winnipeg MB.
Jewish Merchant in Plum Coulee MB, in 1911 census, Both Immigrated in 1891 per census, other source 1888?, another 1889
Sam Rosner was Mayor of Plum Coulee 1918-1919
Owned the Rosner and Brownstone General Store in Plum Coulee. Owners Abe Brownstone and Sam Rosner were cousins.
The Abe Brownstone family had 7 boys.
Sam and Priscilla were married Feb 20, 1894

Siblings of Saidye:
I am missing one as they supposedly had 7 girls total*

1. Irone “Fanny” Rosner
b- Jan 4, 1894 in Winnipeg MB

2. Frances Irene Rosner
b- Jan 4, 1895 in Winnipeg MB
She married Harry Grossman, Sept 5, 1917 in Winnipeg MB

4. Bettey Fredy Rosner
b- Dec 9, 1896 in Plum Coulee MB

3. Leah Monica Rosner,
b- May 24, 1899 in Plum Coulee MB
she married Isadore Amdur Jan 1, 1930, in Winnipeg MB

5. Freda Rita Rosner
b- Jan 4, 1904 in Plum Coulee MB
She married Manly Finkelstein June 26, 1928 in Winnipeg MB

*6. Unknown name

Bronfman brothers involved in the Liquor “business”

Samuel (Sam) Bronfman
b- Feb 27, 1889 in Soroki, Bessarabia Russia (Romania),
d- July 10, 1971 in Montreal Quebec

Harry Bronfman- b- 1885 in Bessarabia Russia

Abe Bronfman- b- 1881 in Odessa, Russia
wife Spence?

and Allan Bronfman

Mr. Colin Rawcliffe was the Station Telegrapher at the time. He was there at the time of the murder, and called as the Crown's Star Witness.
He was probably the only true innocent witness to the event. Rawcliffe wore an “A” class service badge on the stand.
He gave over 3 hours of testimony. He was referred to an a Natty Youth of about age 26 in the newspapers.
Matoff made a special request to Rawcliffe, to keep the freight office open late. It normally closed at 9:30 pm
Colin was playing pool, when Abe Zellickson came in and told him Matoff was ready to take the shipment.
Abe Zellickson, Harry Zellickson, Lee Dellage, and himself, Then left to the station, where a truck was waiting to take the liquor.
The four of them transferred the liquor from cases to burlap gunny bags, which had been shipped in earlier. Matoff came in later, and helped in the work.
Lacoste and Matoff both came in around 1:30 am.
Dellage and Matoff left the shed, and entered to ticket office, where Matoff started counting sheaves of money, tied in $500 packs.
Dellage temporarily left the station when Matoff was recounting one of the packs.
Then before Colin Rawcliffe left the ticket office, and at the time the windows were broken, and shots fired, Colin said he seen part of the body of a man, holding a sawed off shotgun.
He then supposedly ran upstairs after the shooting. Rawcliffe then re-entered the ticket office.
Matoff was laying prostrate on the floor, and Dellage was holding his head. Rawcliffe heard Dellage say, “speak to me, Paul, speak to me”.
They then both left the office, when Dellage told Rawcliffe to go back in, so he didn't run the risk of getting shot, which he did.
They then telegraphed to Estevan for medical help, and Police. He testified Dellage seemed honestly upset.
He testified he seen 2 cars heading south, close together, from the approach to the station.
He testified Dellage and Matoff had 5 or 6 dealing before this.
When did the cash and diamond pin disappear?
Questions still to this day, unanswered.

Colin Rawcliffe
b- July 26, 1894, Sale, Cheshire, England, near Manchester
d- Aug 8, 1978 in Brandon MB
shows as a retired Telegrapher in Brandon ca 1972
married Esther Grace McLeod Dec 26, 1923 in Estevan SK
Esther Grace McLeod
b- June 21, 1903, in Estevan SK
d- Sept 27, 1973 at her home, in Brandon MB
daughter of one of the early pioneers in Estevan, John McLeod and Sarah Hanna Harding

Esther taught school in Bienfait, later in Pipestone MB. they resided in Virden for 9 years prior to moving to Brandon MB in 1965
Both buried in Brandon Cemetery.
They had a daughter Lois Isabel Rawcliffe, who married G. E. Wolfe

brother- Stanley Rawcliffe, next of kin when Colin enlisted in WWI, Mar 2, 1915 in Brandon MB
Colin shown as an Asst. CPR Agent in Whitewater, MB
May 9, 1919 he arrived back to Canada from Southampton

Colin was the son of James Rawcliffe,
b- age 53 in 1911, Fleetwood Lancashire, England
Painter and Decorator
and Marianne “Marion” Rawcliffe, age 41 in 1911

Colin was the oldest child of 9, all born in Sale, Cheshire
siblings (age in 1911)
Stanley Rawcliffe, 15 (b- Nov 7, 1896, d- in Vancouver BC) He also served in WWI
Harry Rawcliffe, 14
Ella Rawcliffe, 11
Marjorie Rawcliffe, 9
Vera Rawcliffe, 8
Marianne Rawcliffe, 6
James Rawcliffe (jr), 4
Dora Rawcliffe, 1

Harry Zelickson
(alt spellings- Zelickson, Zellickson Zeliekson)
b- Feb 15, 1899 at 02-03- 05, W2, in the Jewish Colony, Hirsch Sask
d- Jan 3, 1978, West St. Paul, MB
buried in Bnay Abraham Cemetery

Harry Zelickson was manager of the Bienfait Boozorium

I think his name might have been Zelickson, with one l. He was a farm boy from near Hirsch SK, and they did have a farm near Hirsch,
And there is a Zelickson buried in the Hirsch Jewish Cemetery. Harry was an assistant of Matoff in Liquor shipments.

father- Charles “Charlie” Zelickson,
b- Sept 1868 in Poland/Russia
Father operated the Hirsch Elevator

Mother- Sarah “Fanny” “Fannie” Faga Zellickson, Philipps (alt-Philip, Philliphs),
b- Aug 1865 (1870 per headstone) in Poland/ Russia
d- June 19, 1938, in Hirsch SK, age 68
Buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Hirsch
both immigrated in 1891, Jewish Russians
Settled in Hirsch in 1892

They had 10 children by 1911 census, all born in Sask.

Louie Zelickson,
b- Sept 1892 in Hirsch SK, living in North Portal area ca 1918

Isaac Ipal Zelickson,
b- Feb 26, 1895 in SK

Abraham “Abe” Zelickson,
b- Jan 8, 1897, in Hirsch SK
d- 1970 in Winnipeg MB
buried in Shaarey Zedek Cemetery, Winnipeg
enlisted in WWI, May 30, 1918 in Regina
Reg # 269761

Harry Zelickson,
b- Feb 15, 1899 in Hirsch SK

Samuel Zelickson,
b- Feb 21, 1902

Tillie Zelickson,
b- Mar 2, 1903 in Hirsch

Max “Mack” Zelickson,
b- Feb 14, 1905
lived in new York in 1940

Mary “Mona” Zelickson,
b- Jan 1, 1907

Ida Zelickson,
b- Nov 1909

Rachael Zelickson,
b- Apr 1911, 2 mo old at 1911 census

Nov 12, 1923, Harry was heading to his brother, Irving Zelickson, in New York. Harry shown age 24, Occupation- Farmer

Harry married a Celia, nee ?
They had at least one son Joseph Zelickson, b- ca 1929
Owned 119 acre farm at SW 1- 3- 5 W2

Harry was a Grocer, Merchant in Winnipeg MB

A Mystery Man witness to the Matoff Murder

I received a phone call a few weeks ago, from a fellow in New York City, and he told me, per family legend, his Grandfather was beside Matoff, when the shooting took place. His Grandfather worked for Bronfman, same as Matoff. I am now thinking it was Harry Zelickson, he was talking about, as he was Matoff's assistant, and would have been a Bronfman employee.
There was a Zelickson in New York, so it fits.
Not many other names left to choose from.
I wished I remembered the surname he mentioned, but the call came in early.
His Grandfather told Matoff in Yiddish, to give the robbers the $6,000 cash. Matoff refused and then was shot.
Only problem with this story, per Rawcliffe, he was shot through the window. Then robbed after? One of the stories is the truth.

Mar 22, 1923 article on Lee Leander Dellage, charged in Matoff murder. He was acquitted.
Note- Dellage Surname spelling was wrong in the old newspapers, and even at his trial they used the wrong spelling, which I find real weird.


  • Last modified: 2018/02/10 20:10
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