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Alberta, Past and Present, Historical and Biographical
Vol 3
Alexander Smith


Business enterprise at Lethbridge finds a substantial representative in Alexander Smith, a well known contractor, whose operations have constituted a valuable asset in the upbuilding and improvement of the city. Born in the district of Grey, Ontario, on the 3d of June, 1865, lie is a son of Donald and Catherine (McPhe) Smith, both of whom were natives of Scotland. The father was born in 1827 and died in the year 1904. He was a son of John Smith, who followed farming and spent his life in the land of hills and heather. Alexander McPhe, the grandfather in the maternal line, was also born, lived and died in Scotland and there he made farming his life work. Coming to the New World Donald Smith was married, in Ontario, to Catherine McPhe and they became the parents of ten children, of whom six are living, Alexander being the fifth in order of birth. To provide for his family Mr. Smith followed the occupation of farming, devoting his entire life to agricultural pursuits. His wife, who was born in 1835, survived him for a number of years, passing away in 1921. Both were members of the Baptist church. His political endorsement was given to the Liberal party.

Alexander Smith attained his education in the public schools of Ontario and when his textbooks were put aside worked as an apprentice at the carpenter's trade in Duluth, Minnesota. He started out in that way when sixteen years of age and for fifteen years he continued his residence in Duluth, where he engaged first in carpentry in the employ of others and later took up contracting on his own account. For a time he was at Coleman, Alberta, to which place he removed from Greenwood, British Columbia, where he had followed his trade from 1898 until 1903. In the latter year he settled at Coleman and there built the tipples for the International Coal Company and did other building work for that corporation. He put up altogether two hundred buildings while in Coleman and then in 1905 removed to Lethbridge, where he continued in the employ of the International Coal Company. He also did other contracting and has continued actively in the building operations of the city through the intervening period to the present, covering eighteen years. He has erected every school building that has been put up in the city since his arrival here and many other of the substantial and beautiful structures of the city stand as monuments to his skill and handiwork. He is carrying on his operations under the firm style of Smith Brothers & Wilson and the head office of the company is at Regina. They also have a large branch business at Vancouver. The company is operating as a corporation with Alexander Smith of this review as vice president and manager of the Lethbridge branch. Among the large and attractive structures which he has erected at Lethbridge are the Sherlock building, one of the finest office buildings in Alberta, the courthouse, the building of the Hudson's Bay Company, the Methodist church and many others of almost equal importance. As the years have passed his skill and ability have been developed to a high point of efficiency and he is moreover thoroughly familiar with all of the scientific principles that underlie construction. He has been actuated by a most progressive spirit and in his operations has not only been the architect and builder of his own fortune but has also been a most potent element in adding to the improvement and adornment of the city.

In 1895 Mr. Smith was married to Miss Mabel A. Phillips, who was born and educated in the state of New York and is a daughter of William Phillips, who was engaged in the produce business for many years. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have a family of five daughters: Marion Mabel, who received her Bachelor of Arts degree at Edmonton and is now teaching in Lethbridge; Isabelle Catherine, who pursued a three-year course of study at Rochester, New York, and is now teaching domestic science at Vancouver; Louise, who for two years attended the University of Alberta at Edmonton; Doris L., who has finished the high school course and will enter the university soon; and Alice Margaret, who is a pupil in the grade schools. The family is well known in Lethbridge, and occupies an enviable position in social circles. Mr. Smith and his wife belong to the Presbyterian church and he is also connected with the Masons. In politics he is a Liberal and he belongs to the Board of Trade. his interest in the public welfare has been manifest in many tangible ways but he devotes the major part of his time and energies to his business. He started to provide for his own support when a youth of sixteen years. As the years have passed he has worked his way steadily upward and the steps in his orderly progression are easily discernible. Long since he has become recognized as one of the foremost contractors of Lethbridge and this section of the province and he is a member of the Builders Association of Alberta.


 


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