Ottawa-born Sydney Smith moved to Saskatchewan as a young man, where he played football with the Regina Rugby Club, later the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and worked as an automobile salesman. His introduction to elective politics came in Gull Lake, Saskatchewan, as an alderman and then as Mayor. Running as a Liberal, he failed to win a seat in the Saskatchewan provincial election of 1934.
His move to the interior of British Columbia proved to be financially rewarding. He became a farmer, cattle rancher and hop-grower, and expanded his business interests to include mining, automobile sales and heavy equipment. In 1949, he tried provincial politics once more, standing successfully in the Kamloops riding as a Coalition candidate (the Conservative and Liberal parties ran joint candidates to block the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, now the New Democratic Party [NDP]). Although he took nearly 65% of the votes in 1949, he was defeated in 1952 when he ran as a Liberal against a Social Credit candidate.
Increasingly active in Liberal politics, Smith assumed the presidency of the British Columbia Liberal Association from 1953 to 1959. Partway through his tenure, in 1957, Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent appointed him to the Senate, and Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson appointed him as Speaker nine years later.
After only two years in the chair, Smith resigned the Speakership because of his failing health. He was made a member of the Privy Council. Shortly thereafter, he resigned early from the Senate, believing that he “could not make a satisfactory contribution” any longer.
While Smith was Speaker, his wife died of an apparent heart attack in the Parliamentary Restaurant.
Next Speaker: Hon. Jean-Paul Deschatelets
Previous Speaker: Hon. Maurice Bourget
Born: Ottawa, Ontario, 1892
Died: Victoria, British Columbia, 1976
Political Affiliation: Liberal
Prime Ministers During Speakership: