Alexander Smith

2011 Jun

Alexander SmithAlexander Mark Smith was born April, 25th 1901 at 18/4th Concession of Kenyon, the second son of Duncan and Catherine (Grant) Smith. He grew up with both parents speaking Gaelic, and his Mother sang “mouth music” and taught him to dance when he was very young. When his sister Kathleen came along, they both had an interest in Highland dancing. They were pupils of highland dancer and pipe music teacher Neil MacVean, a neighbour of the Smiths, but formerly from Glasgow, Scotland. Following this, they both taught other young adults Scottish dancing when they were in their young teens. Alex was one of the few men except for the pipers that wore a kilt at that time. He proudly wore the Grant tartan in honor of his maternal side of the family.

His heart was in Scottish music, which he sang at concerts, at school and at parties in the area. In his early twenties, he went to Detroit and worked at the GM plant for 2 years. He would come home with many new tunes and share them at concerts. He was usually asked to sing “In My Bonnie Native Glen” which he loved. Some of these songs he passed on to his son Jackie, who recorded them.

Alex married Mary MacRourie MacDonald also from the 4th of Kenyon, September 12th 1931 and they had 5 children. When he was 33 he left the farm and got a job with Dibblee Construction and eventually went to The Ministry of Transportation from which he retired in 1965.

He and Kathleen, with fellow Glengarrians, Prunella McPhee and Roy McDonell in full Highland dress dancing an “Eight Hand Reel” were a feature at St. Andrews Day concerts held in the Alexander Hall at that time. He also performed this same dance in later years with Howie Morris, Joan (Gormley) O’Hara and Florence Gormley (Villeneuve) to name a few. Alex amassed an extensive collection of Scottish tunes that served as lively background music in his home. His love of all things Scottish continued throughout his lifetime.

Alex and Mary were very well known for their house parties which they held monthly. Many musicians such as Father MacPhail, Vince Cameron, and visiting Nova Scotia violinists would gather to entertain friends and family, Whenever Bishop Smith, his brother, was home, he too would join in the singing.

Alex passed away suddenly on July 3rd, 1967.

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