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Sidney Earle Smith

Sidney Earle Smith
Secretary of State for External Affairs
In office
September 13, 1957 – March 17, 1959
Prime MinisterJohn Diefenbaker
Preceded byJohn Diefenbaker
Succeeded byJohn Diefenbaker
Member of Parliament
for Hastings—Frontenac
In office
November 4, 1957 – March 17, 1959
Preceded byGeorge Stanley White
Succeeded byRod Webb
7th President of the University of Toronto
In office
Preceded byHenry John Cody
Succeeded byClaude Bissell
2nd President of the University of Manitoba
In office
Preceded byJames Alexander MacLean
Succeeded byHenry Percy Armes, acting
4th Dean of Dalhousie Law School
In office
Preceded byJohn Erskine Read
Succeeded byVincent C. MacDonald
Personal details
Born(1897-03-09)March 9, 1897
Port Hood Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
DiedMarch 17, 1959(1959-03-17) (aged 62)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Political partyProgressive Conservative

Sidney Earle Smith PC QC (March 9, 1897 – March 17, 1959) was an 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, November 4, 1957: Hastings—Frontenac
Appointment of George Stanley White to the Senate
Party Candidate Votes
Progressive Conservative Sidney Earle Smith 10,513
Labour Ross Dowson 266
Library of Parliament[2]


  1. ^ Sidney Smith fonds, Library and Archives Canada
  2. ^ "By-Election(s) (1957-11-04)". Parlinfo. Library of Parliament. Retrieved 6 November 2022.

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

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Sidney Earle Smith
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