John E. Smith, mayor of St. Thomas, and one of the leading merchants of the town, was born near Grimsby, in the old Niagara District, December 29, 1830. His father William Smith, a farmer, was also a native of Canada. His mother was Ann Ensley, whose family were from New Jersey, her grandfather being one of the adherents to the Crown when the rebellion broke out in 1775, and was a Captain in the royal army.
The subject of this sketch was reared till near manhood on his father’s farm, in the township of Yarmouth, county of Elgin, receiving an ordinary common school education; learned the trade of a carpenter, joiner and builder; followed that business for several years; was a lumber dealer at St. Thomas for a period of eight years, and, in 1872, became a hardware merchant, his store being in the eastern part of the town, formerly the village of Millersburg. He has a remunerative trade, and has the name of managing his business with prudence and care. He built the Beaver block, the Smith block, and other buildings in St. Thomas east, and is very enterprising. He is a heavy stockholder in the Masonic block, and a director and stockholder in the Dexter and Whitwam Manufacturing Company.
Mr. Smith was a trustee of the village of Millersburg; was a member of the town council of St. Thomas for six or seven years, and in 1879 was elected mayor, receiving the largest vote ever cast in the town. He has first-class business talents and habits, is watchful of the interests of the town, and makes a very useful chief magistrate. He is a director of the Alma Ladies’ College, and vice-president of the London and Port Stanley Railway Company.
In politics he is an out and out Reformer, and was formerly quite active as a partisan. As age progresses he grows less enthusiastic, but no less firm in his political sentiments, &c., belongs to the Commandery in the Masonic order, and has been master of the Blue Lodge, No. 44, St. Thomas.
The wife of Mr. Smith was Miss Melissa McAfee, of Yarmouth, married in April, 1858. They have two sons, Eugene D., aged eighteen, and William H., aged 12 years. The family attend the Baptist church, of which Mrs. Smith is a member.