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Sir Donald Alexander Smith, GCMG, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal (1820-1914)

Arms: Gules a fess argent between a demi-lion Or in chief and in base a canoe Or rowed by four men Proper and with a flag in the bow Argent flowing towards the dexter and inscribed with the letters NW Sable; on the fess a hammer surmounted of a nail in saltire Sable.


Source for blazon: From “An Ordinary of Arms”, Sir James Balfour Paul, Second Edition, 1903, page 168, entry 2507 for Sir Donald Alexander Smith, KCMG (1890). The blazon was reworked by J. H. Gaylor. Source for text: “Debrett’s Peerage”, 1904, pages 792-793 and “Van Horne’s Road”, by Omer Lavallee, Railfare, Toronto, 1974, 4th printing 1990, pages 224-225 in particular, but the whole book for general background.

Donald Alexander Smith, born 6 Aug 1820, Elgin, Scotland, moved to Canada as a boy, and in a rags to riches story, joined the Hudson Bay Co. worked his way up, saved his money and when the Canadian government started to make noises about taking over the Hudson Bay Company, the stock plunged, Smith bought much of it at distressed prices. When the government takeover agreement was made the stock went back up and Smith was a verra rich man. He now started taking an interest in other fields including the Canadian Pacific Railway and promoted and backed its construction to become a transcontinental railroad. At the "last Spike" ceremony, at 9:22 AM, 7 Nov 1885, Smith was the spike driver. He was given a KCMG and later a GCMG. He became a landowner in Canada and Scotland.

Later he raised Strathcona's Horse, one of the last privately raised regiments in the British Empire. Raised in Canada primarily from cowboys and horsemen it served in the Boer war and many wars since, has a distinguished record with three VCs and is extant today in Canada as an armoured unit.

For this patriotic act Smith was raised to the peerage first in 1897 and again on 26 June 1900 as 1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal with a special remainder in default of male issue.

This worked, as the 5th Lord Strathcona is around today.

The artwork is a rendering by John Hamilton Gaylor

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