by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.
It would be quite impossible to record everything of note that there is to say about JC Smithson. “Jack” (as he is commonly known) has been a central figure to the Almonte scene for many, many years. He has distinguished himself for his involvement in the community as Land Registrar, Very Worshipful Brother of the local Masonic Lodge, an active member and leader in the Legion, St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Curling Club and Mississippi Golf Club, not to mention innumerable other volunteer interests and undertakings too numerous to mention. His photograph was constantly in the local newspaper, showing him always handsomely dressed, smiling and participating in some adventure or another. He had all the charisma of a long-time politician without any of the sour baggage of tenure. He was well connected to everyone in the community, both the famous and influential and the working stiffs and common citizens.
As a local lawyer, I am particularly mindful of the excellent reputation which Jack enjoyed among the legal community not only in Almonte, but throughout Lanark County and among those practitioners whose conveyancing experience extended from the surrounding areas of Ottawa, Dunrobin, Carp, Manotick and the like into Lanark North (as the Registry was formerly called before the office amalgamated with, and consumed, Lanark South in Perth, much to the shock and chagrin of the Bar in the County seat). Jack was notorious for making people who visited his office welcome and comfortable, and it was nothing for him to take an active role in the perfection of otherwise deficient documents, culminating in a most satisfactory conclusion of any sojourn to the Land Registry. To appreciate the singularity of Jack’s service commitment, one need only visit almost any other office in the Province, at which it was instantly apparent that rules and regulations were of far more significance than anything else, often to the temporary ruin of Counsel. Jack did not, for example, have a sign above his door which said, “You Can’t Get There from Here!”; just the opposite. His was the way of making things happen, and it was no surprise that Ottawa lawyers often welcomed the opportunity to travel to Almonte for the day to do their own title searching, just to be part of the vernacular of an historic ambience in the fabric of real estate conveyancing in Ontario.
It was no accident that Jack never participated in running anyone down. Indeed, without being saccharin, he always managed to have a kind word about others, something which I know provided leadership to the many who followed in his footsteps. Similarly, illustrative of his personal energy is the effort he put into the preservation of the curling club and masonic lodge, both of which were very much a product of his own determination, engineering and drive. There are few in this Town who can boast so much active participation in the preservation of such important institutions.
On a personal level, Jack and his family (including his wife, Rachel; daughter, Beverly; son, Robert; and daughter-in-law, Margaret) were among those people who made me feel particularly welcome when I came to Almonte. Many an evening was spent with them at their lovely home enjoying a drink and spinning a yarn. Knowing as I did that Jack’s ancestral and extended family enjoyed a long-standing reputation in Almonte, it made me feel very much a part of the community to be associated with this clan, the influence of which spread into so many other associations and activities. These early affiliations were instrumental in getting me off on the right foot, so to speak, as a newcomer to the Town.