What and Why?

Morris Black


Who was Morris Black?

Morris Black was born in Peterborough, Ontario, the 3rd of 4 children. His father, who emigrated from Lithuania, was the spiritual leader in Peterborough. HIs mother was also born in Lithuania. Morris lived his whole life in Peterborough, working in the family’s clothing store. He loved family, music, Israel, and Judaism.

The speaking contest was created 50 years ago following the death of Morris Black. He wrote in his will:

“We must have faith in G-d and hope that the passing of a human is not the end. In place of mourning teach others the value of study and learning…a wonderful heritage has been given unto us.”

Morris Black wrote a number of songs about people, friends, Palestine before it was Israel and about Israel. He wrote and sent 2 songs to prime minister Ben Gurion. The prime minister wrote him back and invited him to visit him in Sde Boker, where he lived.


What is the History of The Contest?

The contest was started in 1970 and has been an annual event ever since. Initially it was an essay contest in Peterborough. It was relocated to Hamilton in 1980 where it was changed into a speech contest. Vancouver has a sister contest. 2021 marked the first ever virtual contest.

The contest has been run now for 50 years.
When the contest started, Prime Minister Trudeau was not even born, his father was prime minister. The government announced plans to change to metric system. The Vietnam War was ongoing, there were no cellphones, not even answering machines and no INTERNET available and no home computers. You had to go to the library or look up your topic in the encyclopedia.



Public speaking is one of the most important and most dreaded forms of communication. Speaking in front of others is an important skill in life to communicate ideas, to convince others, and for fun. It improves self-confidence.