Sidney Earle Smith

The Honourable
Sidney Earle Smith
2nd President of the University of Manitoba
In office
Preceded by James Alexander MacLean
Succeeded by Henry Percy Armes, acting
7th President of the University of Toronto
In office
Preceded by Henry John Cody
Succeeded by Claude Bissell
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Hastings—Frontenac
In office
Preceded by George Stanley White
Succeeded by Rod Webb
Personal details
Born (1897-03-09)March 9, 1897
Port Hood Island, Nova Scotia
Died March 17, 1959(1959-03-17) (aged 62)
Ottawa, Ontario
Political party Progressive Conservative
Cabinet Secretary of State for External Affairs (1957-1959)

Sidney Earle Smith, PC QC (March 9, 1897 March 17, 1959) was a noted academic and Canada's Secretary of State for External Affairs in the government of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.

Early life and education

Born and raised on Nova Scotia's Port Hood Island, Smith grew up speaking both English and Gaelic. He received a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of King's College, followed by an LL.B. from Dalhousie University.[1]


Smith became a lawyer and a professor of law, lecturing at Osgoode Hall Law School and then at Dalhousie University. In 1929, he became dean of Dalhousie's law school. In 1934, he left the Maritimes to become president of the University of Manitoba. In 1945, he was appointed the president of the University of Toronto. He remained in that role for twelve years, overseeing a major period of the university's expansion.


A strong Conservative in the Red Tory tradition, Smith became a prominent member of the Progressive Conservative Party. In 1956, he was considered a possibility for the party's leadership, but decided not to run, disappointing those in the party establishment who wished to prevent the populist John Diefenbaker from becoming leader.

After Diefenbaker won a surprise minority government in 1957, Smith was appointed as Secretary of State for External Affairs. Despite Smith's brilliance and popularity in academia, his success in this new role was limited. After holding the position for two years, he died suddenly of a stroke in 1959.

Posthumous recognition

Sidney Smith Hall, the central building of the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto, is named after him.

Election results

Canadian federal by-election, 4 November 1957: Hastings—Frontenac
Party Candidate Votes
Progressive ConservativeSMITH, Sidney Earle 10,513
LabourDOWSON, Ross Jewitt 266
Called upon Mr. White's appointment to the Senate, 20 August 1957.


  1. Sidney Smith fonds, Library and Archives Canada

Martin Friedland, The University of Toronto: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002.

External links

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