William Smithe

William Smithe, politician, premier of British Columbia 1883-87 (born 30 June 1842 in Matfen, England; died 28 March 1887 in Victoria, BC).

William Smithe, politician, premier of British Columbia 1883-87 (born 30 June 1842 in Matfen, England; died 28 March 1887 in Victoria, BC). In 1862 Smithe settled as a farmer in southern Vancouver Island. Elected in 1871 to British Columbia's first provincial legislature, he had by 1875 become leader of the loosely organized opposition to George Anthony Walkem's government, a post he gave up to Andrew Charles Elliott.

Smithe was a Cabinet minister in the Elliott government of 1876-78 and then again led the Opposition until he replaced Robert Beaven as premier in 1883. Smithe remained in office until his death, initiating the "Great Potlatch" era, during which successive administrations made generous grants of crown-owned resources to entrepreneurs. By settling with Ottawa intergovernmental issues outstanding from the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Smithe cleared the way for the development boom.