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REMEMBER THIS? The man behind Burlington's most iconic park

Spencer Smith is a household name in Halton - but who was he?

Spencer Smith was born in East London, UK in 1870. He came to Canada in 1885 at the age of 15, making his way to Burlington in 1889 and working on the orchard farms of the Lindleys and Bells on Maple Avenue.

It was there he met Edith Bell and they were married in 1900. Together they continued farming and eventually opened a green grocer store in Toronto, then returned to Burlington and opened a green grocer store on Brant Street (east side, north of Pine St). It is believed that they lived above the store for some time. At some point, they purchased a home at 40 Locust St.

Spencer Smith became a member of the Burlington Horticultural Society, working to beautify Burlington. In 1933, as President of the Society, he embarked on the project to beautify the land at the foot of Brant Street — originally known as Lakeside Park. Some fill was added and the property at the east end was landscaped and beautified. The remainder of the park was water behind a breakwall.

(During the 19th century and into the 20th, Lakeshore Road was immediately adjacent to the Lake. There was no protection from storms, and waves frequently washed over the road threatening nearby properties. In 1939 the federal government stepped in and built a seawall).

In 1942 the town renamed the park Spencer Smith Park in recognition of Mr. Smith's efforts. In 1950, the newly formed Department of Recreation decided to add more fill and expand the park. The park was completed in 1967.

Further expansion, including Spencer's on the Waterfront, Rotary Pond, Dofasco Splash Pad and further walkway work was completed in 2006.

Spencer Smith passed away on Nov. 8, 1955. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery with his wives. (Edith passed away in 1924 and he remarried a lady known as Lillie).

Our next meeting is Monday, April 10 at Burlington Central Library, 2331 New St. from  7 to 9 p.m. in the Centennial room. Our speaker will be Al Norton with his presentation on local family farming and a family business. Free event! All are welcome.

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