Click for Bookshop

Sir Donald Alexander Smith


(1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal)

1820 - 1914

Businessman and statesman. Born in Forres (Moray), he emigrated to Canada in 1838 joining the Hudson's Bay Company. He began as a clerk but was soon an administrator and worked his way up in the Company to become President of the Council of the Northern Department in 1870. The same year he entered politics, elected to the new Manitoban provincial legislature, and went on to be successfully elected to the Canadian House of Commons the following year.

He financed the building of the railroad as far as Manitoba, becoming a Director of the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway Company in 1879 and the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1883. By 1889 he was the principal shareholder of the Hudson's Bay Company, and was to serve as its Governor until his death.

Smith was appointed High Commissioner for Canada in London in 1896. He bought the Glencoe Estate from the MacDonalds of Glencoe in 1895 and built Glencoe House as his home. He was raised to the peerage as Baron of Strathcona (a variant of the name Glencoe) and Mount Royal, delivering his maiden speech in the House of Lords in 1898. Granted the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh in 1903 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1904, he was awarded the Albert Medal the same year for his services to railways. Smith bought the island of Colonsay in 1905. Having become a noted philanthropist, he was created a GCVO in 1908 and a Knight of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1910.

He died in London and lies buried at Highgate Cemetery. There are several memorials in Canada, together with a stained glass window in Westminster Abbey. The Glencoe Estate was split up in 1935.


Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry arrow

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better