The city itself is believed to have very ancient origins. Some believe it to be linked to the city of Celetrum, which was captured by the Romans in about 200 B.C. Kastoria, is also an old Jewish Community, dating back to at least the 10th Century, when it was inhabited by Greek Jews. In the 15th and 16th centuries the community was filled with Sephardic Jews, the descendants of those that had fled the Spanish Inquisition. They were drawn to Kastoria bye the expanding fur business.
Located between the cities of Thessaloniki and Ioannina, Kastoria was located on the ancient trade route which made it a very important commercial city. This location and the quality of the work made the city famous for its leather and fur (mink) products.
In the early 1900's, group's of Jewish Immigrants working in the fur business began making their way to North America, most settling in places such as New York and Montreal. When those that settled in Montreal discovered they couldn't get the skilled workers they needed, they simply contacted the most skilled they could find. They went to Kastoria, and recruited workers. Even to this day many of those involved in the fur trade in Montreal are of Greek origin, most from Kastoria.
Today, the Furriers of Kastoria, are known worldwide for their quality of work. In addition to the Montreal community, large populations exist in New York (about 30,000) and Frankfurt, Germany (10,000). The Jewish population of Kastoria, which stood at about 1500 Jews at the turn of the 20th century, today only numbers a handful.
In the near future, the records of the people of Kastoria will begin to be added to the Knowles Collection.