Atikokan Ontario : Colin A. Smith (1890 - 1956).

Colin A. Smith

Teaching Veteran Active In Community Work

From the Atikokan Progress, March 11, 1954.

One who has contributed much to the development of Atikokan's Educational system and who could be termed a pioneer of Atikokan is C.A. Smith, Marks Street Public School principal.

Mr. Smith came to Atikokan to teach in 1946 when Atikokan's population was little better than 700 and its school system consisted of a four-room school with 160 children taking subjects up to Grade 10. He and three other teachers, Miss F.M. Rawn, principal of the Dunbar Heights School, Mrs. Perriere and Mrs. Prudhomme, taught all the grades with Mr. Smith taking the senior grades.

Those were the days when Atikokan consisted of three streets, Front, MacKenzie and O'Brien. O'Brien Street was little better than an access road to Steep Rock Iron Mines with the only commercial establishment on it being North American Lumber Company.

As Atikokan grew in the intervening eight years between 1946 and 1954 the population increased six times over and its school accommodation was vastly out-paced by the influx of families despite the construction of two schools and a four-room addition onto the original four-room school.

As Atikokan grew so did Mr. Smith's responsibilities as principal until the 1952-53 term when his duties included the administration of an 18-room public school system as well as teaching a complete Grade 8 course. The staff had increased from four teachers in 1946 to 18 in 1953.

In the 1953-54 term Mr. Smith's load was lightened when Miss F.M. Rawn was named principal of the new Dunbar heights Public School. However, Mr. Smith's work-day includes five hours of teaching his grade eights and about twice that amount of time doing all the administrative work attached to his principalship.

Despite the responsibilities of his school work, Mr. Smith is active in a number of community organizations and his interests do not end with the academic field. Every year his school has a field day as well as the many regular extra-curricular activities that he directs.

Mr. Smith is an active member in the Atikokan Kiwanis Club and the Atikokan Branch of the Canadian Legion. As chairman of the Under-privileged Children's Committee he has assisted in obtaining through Kiwanis a number of physical aids for handicapped children in Atikokan.

To date Mr. Smith's contribution to the development of this rapidly expanding iron mining community has been considerable. He is a teacher in the truest sense. Mr. Smith has as his goal the development of his students and responsible citizens.

Colin Smith Stricken Ill in Hamilton

From the Atikokan Progress, July 12, 1956, Page 1.

Colin A. Smith, recently appointed supervisory principal for Atikokan public schools, suffered a stroke in Hamilton, Ont., Wednesday morning, July 11, and was taken to hospital, it has been learned.

Mr. Smith, formerly principal of the Marks Street School, was in Hamilton taking a summer course in connection with his recent appointment.

Word of the mishap was received here Wednesday by Geof Grindrod, manager of the local branch of the Toronto-Dominion Bank. He received the information in a phone call from a bank manager in Hamilton, at whose home Mr. Smith was staying.

No further information was available on Mr. Smith's condition at press time.

Colin Smith, School Principal Dies in Hamilton Hospital

From the Atikokan Progress, July 19, 1956, Page 1.

Colin A. Smith, well-known public school principal and teacher in Atikokan, Passed away early Wednesday morning, July 18, in St. Joseph's Hospital, Hamilton, it has been learned.

Mr. Smith suffered a stroke in the eastern city while attending a special summer course in connection with his recent appointment as supervisory principal for all Atikokan public schools.

Latest report prior to word of his passing was received here Saturday morning, at which time Mr. Smith was still unconscious as a result of the stroke. News of his death was received at 6 a.m. Wednesday by O.F. Lindsay chairman of the Atikokan public school board.

Mr. Smith had been a principal here since 1946, when he assumed supervision of the old four-room school. He was appointed principal of the Marks Street School in 1949.

A native of the lower Ottawa valley, he attended Vankleek High School and Ottawa Normal School. He began his teaching career 40 years ago.

He served during the First World War as a member of the Royal Flying Corps, after which he traveled around the world with some other Canadian veterans.

Mr. Smith came to the Fort Frances district in 1940 as a teacher.

In a recent interview, Mr. Smith indicated he was giving some thought to retiring after the completion of the 1956-57 school year. He had been appointed supervisory principal for Atikokan's three-school public school system, effective next September.

Besides his school activities, Mr. Smith was an active member of the local Kiwanis club, Canadian Legion and Home and School Association.

C.A. Smith is survived by his widow in Toronto; a daughter, believed to be residing in California; a son in Toronto; and a second son in Connecticut.

C.A. Smith Rites Held in Hamilton

From the Atikokan Progress, July 26, 1956, Page 10.

Funeral services for Colin A. Smith, "dean" of Atikokan teachers, were held Friday, July 20.

The services were held at a funeral chapel in Hamilton Ont., where Mr. Smith died last week following a heart attack. He had been attending a summer course at McMaster University in connection with his new duties as supervisory principal of Atikokan public schools.

Mr. Smith was a member of the local branch of the Canadian Legion, being active in various affairs in Atikokan. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Atikokan, having been a director of the organization. Another group to which he devoted considerable time was the Home and School Association.

Plaque Honours Principal

From the Atikokan Progress, January 22, 1959, Pages 1 & 8.

The Colin A. Smith Memorial Plaque, established for the student showing outstanding academic ability in Grade 8 at Marks Street School, was presented officially to the school Monday morning, Jan. 19, by the Kiwanis Club of Atikokan.

Walter Beyak, a past president of Kiwanis, made the presentation to D.K. Hay, principal of the Marks Street School. The award was won last year by Vernon Thorsteinson but the plaque had not been ready at that time. A cash award of $25 also is involved.

Mr. Smith was both a charter member of Kiwanis, being instrumental in the establishment of an original scholarship in connection with Grade 8, and had been principal of the Marks Street School. Shortly before his death he had been named supervisory principal for Atikokan public schools.

Mr. Beyak made the presentation at an assembly of students in the Marks Street auditorium. After tracing some of the history of the award, Mr. Beyak said of Mr. Smith:

"He was very highly respected by all the members of the Kiwanis Club and was complimented very highly for his work with boys and girls. From the reports I have had from the teachers and pupils of the Marks Street School, he was thoroughly liked and highly respected.

"Mr. Smith was principal of the Marks Street School for 10 years, from 1946 to 1956. He was appointed to the position of supervisory principal of the Atikokan public schools in the spring of 1956 just before his death. Mr. Smith died while attending school. He was taking a summer school course for teachers at Hamilton at the time.

"Mr. Smith operated a very efficient system at a time when problems were greatest due to a very rapid expansion and can easily be called "The Father of Education" in Atikokan. When he came here there were four rooms in the school system; when he died there were 30 rooms."

Colin Alexander Smith: A Genealogical Search

By Charles Dobie

Colin Alexander Smith was born in South Plantagenet Township, Prescott County, Ontario, on Dec. 12, 1890. His parents were Matthew Smith and Lodema Campbell. As his father was a farmer, it is most likely he was born at home. The 1901 census (see below) shows him as the youngest of six children, but as his eldest brother at home was 28, there well may have been others who were out living on their own.

His death notice says he served in World War I, in the Royal Flying Corps. British military records would have to be searched to find out where exactly he served. On January 6, 1920, he married Yvonne Elsie Jones, in Toronto (see marriage record below).

The birth and marriage records below were found by searching, and the 1901 census record for Colin Smith's family was found on

Many thanks to for scanning the photo at the top of this page, from the collection of the Atikokan Centennial Museum, and for providing the various articles from the Atikokan Progress.

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