Donald J. Smith

Donald J. Smith




Class of 2014

Don Smith– philanthropist, craftsman of buildings and careers, husband to Joan Smith, and father to seven children– was a true pioneer.

Born in Alberta in 1924, Don would prove himself to be a natural entrepreneur, from showing neighbourhood kids Charlie Chaplin movies– at five cents a head– to joining the Foundation Company as a Superintendent at 25.

In 1949, Don moved to London and married Joan McDonald, who had her own ambitions in public service and politics. Neither career deterred the two from their shared dream of a large family, which consisted of seven children, 21 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

In 1951, Don and brother David started EllisDon with a single home renovation prospect, and then worked-up to university, office, and airport projects– expanding across several provinces seeing EllisDon become the $3Billion company it is today.

At 42, Don also fought for the London Club to admit its first Jewish member, a feat for which Don was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews. Notwithstanding this, Don was a great philanthropist, which benefitted The Boys And Girls Club, and many other charities and communities throughout Ontario.

Don led a life well lived, and very generously enabled others to do the same.

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