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John Smith was born on May 28, 1859 in Crownthorpe, Norfolk County, England. In 1887, he married Frances Rose Middleton. Together they had four children: John Douglas, Arthur Middleton, Lucy Margaret and Olga Marie. Smith was a graduate chemist in Norwich before immigrating to Canada in 1892, where he purchased and farmed a homestead above Pitt River, northeast of Port Coquitlam in British Columbia.;He and his wife were active in the community of Port Coquitlam, and helped to establish its Anglican church. His wife Rose was the first women to hold civic office in Port Coquitlam when she was elected as a school trustee in 1913. During his time in British Columbia, Smith held many public positions. He was appointed Municipal Clerk of the Municipality of Port Coquitlam in 1899. In 1900 he was named Justice of the Peace for the counties of Victoria, Nanaimo, Vancouver, Westminster, Yale, Cariboo and Kootenay. He became a Police Magistrate for the City of Port Coquitlam in 1913. He was City Clerk of Port Coquitlam from the time it was incorporated in 1913 to 1937. In 1923 he became Justice of the Peace for British Columbia. He was the Stipendiary Magistrate for Counties of Vancouver and Westminster from 1933 to 1945.;In 1989 Smith travelled to the Yukon and kept an account of his experiences in a diary. This diary was later published in the British Columbia Historical Quarterly in 1952 with an introduction and annotations by Walter N. Sage. He died on January 24, 1950, at the age of 90.