II-170354 | Sir Donald Smith, Lord Strathcona, Montreal, QC, 1908

Sir Donald Smith, Lord Strathcona, Montreal, QC, 1908
Wm. Notman & Son
1908, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
25 x 20 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  informal (1120) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

Donald Smith (1820-1914) was one of the best known philanthropists in early-20th-century Montreal. A Hudson Bay Commissioner, politician, railway magnate, bank president and investor in many companies, Smith was also the prime Canadian example of a rags-to-riches success story. He was a philanthropist who supported a wide range of causes, giving in excess of $7,500,000. The most well-known example of his generosity is the Royal Victoria Hospital, paid for by Smith and his cousin George Stephens, but he also made major contributions to a number of universities (especially McGill) and hospitals in both Canada and England, to the YMCA, and to the Theological College. Unusually for his day, he provided financial support for the education of girls and women through the Trafalgar Institute and McGill University, where he built and endowed the Royal Victoria College. The first class of women at McGill were popularly known as Donaldas. Smith was a flamboyant man who loved to entertain lavishly, but he was also a humanitarian who made a real contribution to many causes.

  • What

    This photograph shows Sir Donald Smith sitting in his Dorchester Street mansion. Smith was one of Montreal's leading philanthropists at the beginning of the 20th century.

  • Where

    Emigrating from Scotland in 1838, Smith spent most of his life in Western Canada and then Montreal. He moved to London in 1896 when he was named Canadian High Commissioner.

  • When

    Donald Smith was born in 1820, and his business and political career spanned most of the 19th century. He died in London in 1914.

  • Who

    Sir Donald Smith, first Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, was raised to the peerage in 1896.