John Cyril Smith

It is with great sadness that the family of John C. Smith announces his passing on May 20, 2020, at home in Victoria, after a brief and very brave struggle with cancer.

John was born in Gravesend, England on 29 June 1935 to Emily (nee Howett) and Cyril Smith, and had one sister, Marjorie. He received a Civil Engineering degree from the University of Nottingham and was a competitive cyclist in England, becoming a British University Hill Climbing champ and racing as an amateur in Europe. John and his friends also enjoyed the live jazz scene in England.

After serving in the British Army, John worked with Laing’s in Britain, earning his professional accreditation and building England’s first motorway. John married Stephanie Daffey in 1961 and together they had three children. In 1968, they immigrated to Canada where John worked for Gulf Oil, supervising the construction of gas stations across Ontario.

In 1972, he moved his family to Nova Scotia, where he worked until his retirement in 1998.  John worked at several private firms as well as federal and provincial government departments. He led numerous large engineering projects including at Bedford Institute of Oceanography, the Bedford Waterfront, and Halifax Dockyard. John purchased a 27 foot wooden Tancook Sloop during this time, which he sailed and raced for more than 15 years.

In 2006, John moved to Victoria, BC to be close to his children and grandchildren. He re-discovered his passion for cycling and competition with the Sidney Velo Cycling club.  John became a fan of organized bike tours and cycled many spectacular routes in BC, the Cascades, and finally rode sections of Giro Tour route in the Dolomites, Italy, and a lifelong goal. John always planned his trips well including where the best coffee shops were along the way.

John found pleasure in volunteer service as well as learning local history and culture.  In Nova Scotia, he was the Vice Commodore of Bedford Basin Yacht Club and Director of the Junior Sailing Program.  He was an active member of Run Nova Scotia and the Halifax Cycling Coalition to improve bike safety. In British Columbia, John was an active volunteer at the Royal BC Museum, served as a Director of Sidney Velo, and loved to attend local lectures at the University of Victoria and in Sidney.

As all who knew him, John was active throughout his life – running, canoeing, hiking, cross-country skiing, sailing, ice skating and cycling. He will always be remembered for his passionate pursuit of physical activity, love of the outdoors, attention to detail, grit and strong work ethic.

John is survived by his three children, Daniel, Joanna (Terry Sullivan) and Lucy, two grandchildren, Maia and Ross, and a niece and two nephews in Italy, Brigitte, Livio and Sylvio.

The family thanks all of the wonderful people who were involved in their father’s care over the last eight months including his physician, Dr. Houghton, the doctors, nurses and staff at the BC Cancer Centre, Victoria Hospice Palliative Care Program, Island Health, and Van Isle Home Care.

There will be a gathering to celebrate John’s life at a later date. Location and details to follow.

Memorial donations in John’s memory can be made to BC Cancer Centre or Victoria Hospice.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Lorraine Tremblay

    So sorry for your loss. Amazing man and student of life par excellence!
    We will remember him at Xmas skates and chatting with Millie and Ross. I am sure they are having a chat about us all and life.
    Much love Lorraine, Roger, Kailen and Mischa.💗

  2. So enjoyed my few years working as an Admin Asst with John at the Halifax Dockyard back in the 80’s. My memories include his heading home for scones and tea with his youngest daughter, Lucy and his stories about his two other children and their achievements. We shared many tales of our family lives and shared stories of their many activities. Sorry for your loss but glad that he spent his final years with you in BC and got to enjoy children and grandchildren during his final years.

  3. I will always remember John sail boat racing against him and Warren at BBYC ,I may have actually beat them once but I cant remember when. Every time I drive past his house in Bedford I have pleasant memories of times at BBYC, Sorry for your loss and our loss too,

  4. Roger Churchill

    Knew John because we lived in Bedford and our paths would cross either at the Yacht club or in our runs along Shore drive. We were both involved with Run Nova Scotia. He was, as a proud father, always bringing me up to date on the running goals of daughter, Lucy. Our condolences to the family.

  5. Shelley Dumais Rebneris

    So sorry to hear of your loss Lucy. Your dad was an inspiration to many I am sure. Sending you and your family much love.

  6. Read this all out to my parents Peter and Peggy in Kent, and the memories of his earlier life and visits to relatives in the UK came back to them. My enjoyment was coming over to Vancouver Island and having a week or so catching up John and his way of life. Will miss his Christmas cards and news. His enthusiasm for everything and love of cycling was inspiring. Tricia

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