Smith, Ron: Local Man - Medical Pioneer

Local Man - Medical Pioneer

by Ron Smith

Herbert Smith was born just north of Cobourg in 1890 and went to high school in Cobourg. He left to go to Saskatchewan to live with his older brothers and take normal school training in Regina. Later he became a teacher in Liberty Saskatchewan earning $840 per year.

After three years of teaching, Herbert went to the University of Illinois and obtained an Arts degree. He started taking correspondence courses and received a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Alberta and later a Doctorate in Education in California. While in California, Herbert became interested in psychology and mental health issues and returned to the University of Alberta where he remained for 26 years on the faculty. He became Dean of the University of Alberta in 1950 and retired from that position in 1955 making $7000 per year.

While in Alberta, Herbert established the Canadian Mental Health Association branches for Edmonton and Alberta; became President of both branches and was presented with an honorary life membership in each organization. After WWII Herbert Smith was active in getting recognition for soldiers returning from the war, helping both them and the public to underestand that their mental illnesses were not a sentence of death but rather a disease that could be treated.

Herbert served in both World Wars enlisting in the army but transferred to the Navy midway through each term of duty. He was in Halifax on December 6, 1917 during the great explosion from the collision of the Mount Blanc and the Ino. He was on leave about a quarter mile from the blast and had slept in when at 8:55 a.m. the roof caved in on him. He was unhurt and able to get free and help other people escape from their wrecked homes and buildings.

Herbert Smith died in 1969.

Written by Ron Smith, Herbert’s first cousin once removed. Herbert’s father and Ron’s grandfather were brothers.

Herbert Smith 1890-1969