Arthur Smith was an oilfield worker, fighter pilot, executive business man, and magazine editor. He also worked in public relations as an advertising executive and was a Canadian politician on the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government. Arthur Ryan Smith was born in Calgary on 16 May 1919 to parents Arthur LeRoy Smith and Sara Isobel Ryan. Smith grew up in Calgary, and later in British Columbia. He got his first job as an oil field worker at the age of 16 in Turner Valley, Alberta and spent 4 years working in the oil patch.
At the outbreak of World War II Smith enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and became a pilot. He flew 34 combat missions on Lancaster bombers. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his military service. When Smith returned home from the war he went back to working in the oil patch. He worked his way up from Roughneck to Assistant of the President at the Anglo-American Oil Company. In 1952 he became editor for the publication Petroleum Exploration Digest . Smith soon became interested in a political career and he ran for Calgary city council in 1953.
Smith began his political career by running for Calgary city council for the post of Alderman in 1953. He won his first term in office and served until 1955 when he decided to run for a seat in the provincial legislature. Smith would return to City council after retiring from federal politics in 1963. He would run for the Alderman position in 1965 winning election and hold his seat until 1967.
Smith ran as a candidate in the Calgary provincial electoral district in the 1955 Alberta general election. He finished first in the vote counts winning on the first ballot transfer. He held his seat in the provincial legislature until he resigned in 1957 to run for federal politics. After leaving provincial politics, Smith remained active behind the scenes with the Progressive Conservatives for more than 50 years.
Smith ran for a seat in the House of Commons in the 1957 federal election. He defeated 3 other candidates winning by a 10,000 vote plurality over second place candidate Donald McKay. Parliament would dissolve a year later. In the 1958 election he ran for re-election winning a plurality of about 23,000 votes in front of the nearest candidate. Smith ran for his third and final term in office in the 1962 federal election. His margin of victory was significantly reduced, but he still won his district in a landslide. Smith retired from federal politics a year later in 1963 at the dissolution of the house. During his time as a Member of Parliament, he served as a Delegate to the United Nations. Smiths' father served as Member of Parliament for Calgary West from 1945 to 1951.
Smith became an influential business man after his career in public office. In 1961 he and fellow RCAF veteran Milt Harradence used their political influence with Prime John Diefenbaker to make Lynn Garrison’s Lancaster Memorial Fund a success. This saw Lancaster FM-136, purchased from Crown Assets Disposal Corporation by Lynn Garrison, displayed at McCall Field, Calgary as a memorial to those who had trained under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Smith had won his Distinguished Flying Cross while flying Lancasters during World War II. He served as an executive on numerous companies, public boards, and volunteered in youth sports programs. In 1988 he was appointed Chief of Protocol for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary. In 1999, Smith consented to become the Honorary Chairman of the Capital Campaign for the newly created Friends of the Colonel Belcher. He was key in advocating for the construction of the new facility with the City, the Provincial, and the Federal governments, and with the local health authorities. His passion and dedication saw the campaign goal of $2.1 million exceeded in less than two years.
Smith has been awarded numerous honours in distinctions over the course of his life. He became a member of the Order of Canada in 1988 and was elevated to the rank of Officer in 2003. That same year he was also given an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Calgary. He was later awarded the Alberta Order of Excellence. In 1997, he became Honorary Colonel of the 416 Tactical Fighter Squadron located at Cold Lake, Alberta. In 2004, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology opened its aero engineering training facility. This facility dedicated to Smith is named Art Smith Aero Centre for Training and Technology.
Arthur Smith and the Friends of the Colonel Belcher Society
The Society has decided to dedicate this project to the memory of Honourary Colonel Arthur R. Smith, OC, AOE, DFC , a distinguished veteran and the Honourary Chair of the Capital Campaign for the Colonel Belcher, which raised in excess of $2.4 million dollars to finance a number of enhancements to the facility all of which were designed to improve the quality of life of the veterans and other residents.