Ralph Smith (Canadian politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ralph Smith
Ralph Smith.jpg
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Vancouver
In office
Preceded byWilliam Wallace Burns McInnes
Succeeded byDistrict was abolished in 1903
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Nanaimo
In office
Preceded byDistrict was created in 1903
Succeeded byFrancis Henry Shepherd
Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia for Nanaimo
In office
In office
Personal details
Born(1858-08-08)August 8, 1858
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
DiedFebruary 17, 1917(1917-02-17) (aged 58)
Victoria, British Columbia
Political partyLiberal

Ralph Smith (August 8, 1858 – February 17, 1917) was a Canadian coal miner, labour leader, and politician.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, he emigrated to Canada with his wife in 1891 settling in Nanaimo, British Columbia. A miner by trade, Smith was a moderate trade unionist in Nanaimo. In 1898, he won election to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia on a moderate "Liberal-Labour" platform. He ran for Vancouver's seat in the House of Commons of Canada in the 1900 federal election. Reports vary on whether he ran as an Independent Labour-Liberal candidate defeating the official Liberal and Conservative candidates, but once elected, he joined the Liberal caucus. He was re-elected in the 1904 and 1908 elections as a Liberal. He was defeated in the 1911 election. Smith subsequently returned to provincial politics and, returned to the provincial legislature in the 1916 provincial election that brought the British Columbia Liberal Party to power.

Smith served as Minister of Finance in the government of Premier Harlan Carey Brewster, and died in office on February 17, 1917. His wife, Mary Ellen Smith, succeeded him in the subsequent by-election (held January 1918) as an Independent Liberal Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). She subsequently became the first female cabinet minister in the British Empire.

Ralph Smith was a supporter of women's suffrage, which was enacted in the province shortly after the Liberals came to power after ten previous attempts over the years had failed.


  • "Ralph Smith". Dictionary of Canadian Biography (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. 1979–2016.
  • Ralph Smith – Parliament of Canada biography