The Zatzman Family's Gift to the Sportsplex and our Community

The story of Joseph Zatzman is one of integrity, perseverance, and acceptance, as well as one that embodies hard work from beginning to end. When the Sportsplex was approached by Michael Zatzman and his family with a monetary gift to support the new facility, we knew it was a great fit for not only us, but the whole community.

In 1934, when he was just 22 years old, Joseph Zatzman started his career as an entrepreneur, purchasing a small grocery store on the corner of Portland St. and Victoria Rd. in Dartmouth. With very little money and no one to fund his dream, Joseph’s father scrounged together $500, just enough for him to get his store off the ground.

Community Groceteria, Joseph’s store, was a labour of love which often required long hours with few breaks in between. Joseph took care of all aspects of the store, from stocking shelves to ordering product, to ringing through customers and catering to their every demand. His unwavering spirit and motivation were recognized by many, and from these humble beginnings, Joseph slowly but surely built a career and a positive name for himself in the community.

As Joseph’s reputation grew, residents encouraged him to take a more active role in the leadership and development of Dartmouth — even though, in those days, people of Jewish descent were not widely accepted or hired by many big businesses in the community. Joseph was greatly appreciative of those who accepted him and supported him, and he dedicated much of his life to community service in Dartmouth as way to give back and express his gratitude.

Joseph served on many Boards of Directors and committees that not only focused on the positive development of Dartmouth, but the province of Nova Scotia. In the 1950s, Joseph became involved in politics, serving four terms as an Alderman and two as the Mayor of Dartmouth. While his accomplishments are many, some stand out as visionary, particularly the creation and development of Burnside Industrial Park. Perhaps most admirable of all, Joseph truly personified community, teaching his family to become involved in community service, volunteerism, politics, and business development, with his son Michael following his example as a community leader in Halifax and Dartmouth.

A place to learn and grow, be active with family and friends, and focus on community wellness, the Sportsplex is a place that aligns with the Zatzmans vision for Dartmouth. “This gift to the Sportsplex is our way of thanking the whole community for accepting our father and his family, and encouraging us to thrive,” says Michael Zatzman.

The Zatzmans have already spent much of their lives giving back to and supporting the community, and Michael says this gift is a continuation of that spirit. The Zatzmans donation to our facility opens up more free opportunities to participate in recreation—including access to some of our fitness classes, walking and running track, youth programming, and more. To us, Dartmouth is synonymous with Joseph Zatzman and his commitment to community. We’re proud to have his family’s name on our brand new, revitalized facility.

*Photos on this page of Joseph Zatzman were provided to us by his son Michael, borrowed from the book about his life written by Betsy Chambers.