There are more tributes for Brit Smith. The well-known Kingston, Ont., businessman and philanthropist died on the weekend at the age of 103. Charitable groups are saluting Smith, who used his influence and wealth to help organizations that needed it.
You could go just about anywhere in Kingston to see the impact Brit Smith has had on the city. The company he founded, Homestead Landholdings, has become a household name in Kingston.
“What a combination he was, he was like a supernova,” Great Lakes Museum board chair Chris West said.
“He had a brilliant mind, and you couldn’t spend five minutes without being aware.”
Smith used that influence to help organizations across the city. Through donations to the Boys and Girls Club, they were able to buy the old Robert Meek school on Bagot Street and turn it into a downtown branch.
They were also able to build an indoor play structure. The donations made by Smith to the Boys and Girls Club have changed countless lives.
“And these opportunities, they have an impact that goes well beyond today. They have a ripple effect,” BGC Southeast Board of Directors President Jacqui Collier said.
Another Smith benefactor has been the Great Lakes Museum. When the museum was without a home for two years it was Brit Smith who donated millions to buy back the Ontario Street waterfront property the museum had called home, allowing it to return to normal operations.
“It’s existential for the museum,” Chris West said. “We do not exist without that extraordinary generosity of Brit Smith.”
Smith’s generosity also spread through the education and health care system. He was a big supporter of the Queen’s University School of Nursing, having started an endowment fund in memory of his wife. The ongoing donation has allowed the program to flourish.
“His contribution has supported our growth. We have more nurses conducting research now, publishing and getting exposure that they otherwise would not have received,” Queen’s University School of Nursing Director Erna Snelgrove-Clarke said.
The loss of Smith leaves a big hole within the city of Kingston, one that may never be filled. But his legacy will live on through the countless organizations he’s helped continue to succeed and positively affect the community he called home.
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