Transcript of the Memorial Service
Donald Morison Smith
November 19 1925 - December 8 1993
Held on Saturday, January 8, 1994 at 7:30 p.m.
At the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa
[Prelude Music - Fauré's "Requiem" - 'Kyrie Eleison'. Keith Dowd, Chaplain (retired), then starts the service with the following text.]
This is the Memorial Service for Donald Morison Smith, with musical interludes he selected related to events in his life.
Dr. Donald Morison Smith, U.E. and Ph.D., was born on Thursday, November 19, 1925 in Montreal in the Medical Arts Building at the corner of Guy and Sherbrooke Street. He was the third child and second son of J. Thorold Smith of United Empire Loyalist stock from Napanee, Ontario, in his turn of Dutch and Palatinate German origin, on this continent since the 17th and 18th centuries, with some mixture of Irish.
Donald's mother, born in Montreal, was of Scottish (Isle of Lewis) and English Midlands origins whose parents arrived in Montreal over a century ago.
His sister, Betty Locke, will now speak of the family memories that surround Donald.
Welcome, friends and family of Donald Morison Smith. At this evening of celebration and remembrance of my brother's life, I asked for a few minutes to speak of the Donald I knew and loved.
I would like to present a few vignettes of Don as seen through the eyes of an older sister.
First his birth - I clearly remember that morning of November 19, 1925. My older brother and I awoke to find my Mother gone to the hospital and Dad informing us for the first time that a baby brother or sister would be born that day. Yes, the first time!! And I was eight years old and my brother Roy a year and a half older. When Don's birth was announced, I rushed next door to inform my best friend of this astounding news. I can still see Marjorie, always dramatic, running back to their kitchen shouting, "Mother, Betty brings us tidings of great joy!" And great joy it was - so much more fun to handle a real live baby than the Bylo Baby doll I had been given the previous Christmas.
Frail from birth, Don grew into a winsome toddler with a shock of fair hair and enormous blue eyes - those Morison eyes which showed up again in my nephew Eric and my grandson Peter. He was always a shy contemplative child - curious about everything - really quite precocious.
We were a book-loving family and reading and being read to were a "given" in our home. I recall Donald reading Dickens at eight years of age.
Music, too, played an important rôle in our family's life. I still have a 1927 autograph book in which my great aunt Frances Morison had sketched a picture of a romper-clad Donald standing in front of our wind-up gramophone. He is listening intently to the music issuing from it. Don claims that his early musical memories, besides W.W.I. songs, were of his mother playing on the piano Roses of Picardy and of me playing on the violin, as she accompanied me, Le Cygne, from Saint Säen's "Carnival of the Animals".
In 1930 Donald attended Kensington Public School in N.D.G. where he and his peers sang lustily "The Maple Leaf Forever" and not so lustily, "The Ash Grove". It was in November of 1930 that Don contracted scarlet fever which caused some heart damage.
In 1938 Don went on to Westhill High School where he encountered an inspired classics teacher, Edgar Davidson. "Davey" had a profound influence on Donald's development both culturally and academically. Don's motto in the 1942 yearbook was a quotation from Thackeray "Vanitas vanitarum, all is vanity saith the preacher."
Donald's musical memory from those years is a selection from H.M.S. Pinafore. [I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navy]
When people ask me about my brothers, I always describe my older brother Roy as a healthy athlete, an extrovert, a charming scamp, with lots of brawn and a fair share of brains. Don though is always depicted as the brilliant one of the family with more than his share of brains and with far, far less than a fair share of brawn. It was not surprising when Donald announced in his early teens that he was going to lead the life of an intellectual. To this end, he went on to do well in his academic studies - chiefly scientific - and to find out all he could about art, music, architecture, literature, history and well, the humanities.
By the time Donald was twelve, I had embarked on a teaching career in Northern Quebec and Roy was away from home working as a geologist and then serving as a soldier in far-off places. This left Don at home leading the life of an only child and for his extended family, he looked to his friends on Dorval Island. You may have noted in his obituary - which he wrote - that Dorval Island had a prominent place. Though afflicted with hay-fever, he was a happy resident there for many summers from age four on. Though teased and nick-named "the professor", he with good humour asked that, since his name was Donald Smith he preferred to be referred to with great respect as "Lord Strathcona". Halcyon days indeed! The friendships Don forged there were to be lifelong ones.
For many years my contacts with Don were few and far between, but I did rejoice in his marriage to Doris Manon Markson. They were a perfectly matched pair with many many shared interests. My Mother, frustrated yet proud, once told me that when she listened to Don and Doris talking on a high intellectual plane, she did not understand a word they said. Donald was particularly proud of the fine work Doris did as president of the Friends of the National Gallery. Years later, in our new art gallery, I was touched when I learned that Don, about to give a paper at an art study group, was asked how he should be introduced, he replied simply, "Just say I'm Doris Smith's husband".
I rejoiced too, in the births of Alex and Eric. I called them my favorite nephews until Eric rightly and pertly replied, "We are your only nephews." Don's interest and pride in his sons' successful careers was a joy to behold. It was due to them that he became "reasonably" computer-friendly. The "family tree" project which Alex cleverly devised was dear to Don's heart. We must possess the most complete family tree anywhere - quite a feat with the surname of Smith! However, I am delighted now to know that we are United Empire Loyalists and that English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German and Dutch blood run in our veins. No pure race for sure!
When I came to Ottawa to live in 1983, I became a frequent visitor at 175 Daniel Ave. There I enjoyed Donald's stimulating conversation, his quiet sense of humour and came to appreciate fully his caring nature. There too I watched him fight gallantly against his failing health. I shall miss him sorely.
Once, when visiting him recently, I read to him from a book by Elbert Hubbard called "English Writers" and he listened attentively as I read the essay on Robert Browning - a favorite poet of us both. Later, I looked through the same book and came across this final paragraph on the poet Tennyson. As I read it to you, I would like you to picture Donald as he sat one evening this summer on the front verandah of our cottage on Dorval Island, looking out over the vast expanse of lake St. Louis. The following quotation seems especially fitting:
"The dread of death is gone and he calmly contemplates his own end and awaits the summons without either impatience or fear. He realizes death is a manifestation of life - as natural and as necessary.
Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me
And may there be no moaning at the bar
When I put out to sea."
We shall now sing a favorite hymn of Donald's. It is one which we sang long ago at the Sunday evening sing-songs on Dorval Island.
[Hymn #101 - "Abide With Me" then back to Keith Dowd]
In 1942 he entered McGill University where he studied for his degree in Honours Chemistry usually to the sound of classical music heard in programmes on CBF and CJAD. [Debussy's 'Pavane for a dead Infante'] He read extensively through McGill's library, especially H.G. Wells, and Bernard Shaw and the Fabian Society tracts. He also joined the Church of the Messiah (Unitarian) under the guidance of the Reverend Angus Cameron.
Like most students of the period, Don worked at summer jobs, at Stelco in accounts, in chemistry at Canadian International Paper in Trois Rivieres, and a pigment dyestuff plant. He also took the opportunity to attend the Montreal Symphony concerts on Mount Royal at the Lookout, and was launched into a lifetime of appreciation of art at the Spring Show of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and continued his interest as a part of his travels.
In fact, he selected the place to take graduate studies, the University of Minnesota, on the basis of the presence of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra under Dimitri Mitropoulos, and featuring guests such as Dame Myra Hess, Artur Schnabel, Fritz Kreisler, Nathan Milstein, Isaac Stern and many others. In spite of these distractions, he completed his studies with a thesis on the Hultzsch reaction with Prof. Walter M. Lauer.
In 1949 he returned to Canada as lecturer in chemistry at Carleton College when Dr. John Morton was head of the Chemistry Department. It was here that I first met Donald while he helped me and a number of other students with the intricacies of the nomenclature of Organic Chemistry. He was a favourite with the less secure students, because the course was taught by a professor who was very forceful and inclined to harsh decisions, a decided contrast to Don and Dr. Morton.
Donald's breadth of reading came in handy when, in the interim period between Gaston Carrier and George Marshfield, two ministers at the First Unitarian Congregation when we were still at the corner of Elgin and Lewis Street in downtown Ottawa, he gave a sermon on Bertrand Russell. Two of the hymns he used were "Light of Ages and of Nations" and "The Parliament of Man." Let us join in singing one verse of each hymn. [Hymn #190, second verse, and #143, last verse]
The period 1952 - 1953 was a time of transition for Donald. He realized the need for a doctorate while working at the Defense Research Board, Library and Chemical Laboratories. In the summer of 1953 he vacationed in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Oslo, and then came home from Sweden on the M.S. Stockholm. He returned to take up postgraduate studies at McGill. Under Prof. C.B. Purves his research topic was "The Chlorine Dioxide Oxidation of Spruce Periodate Lignosulfonic Acid" the product of which, over 30 years later turns out to be one of the ways chlorodioxins get into pulp bleaching waste water, to the dismay of the ecologists.
Donald was active in the Church of the Messiah (Unitarian) in Montreal, and it was there, while attending a discussion group, that he met his future wife. Donald's notes to me say this;- "I met Doris Manon Markson, my beloved wife, during this period. We became engaged and were married by Angus Cameron in Montreal on June 18, 1955. I cannot speak highly enough of her as more than a helpmeet, a true intellectual companion over the years, which has made our life together a glorious journey of discovery in the fields of art, music, literature, all the attributes of a civilized life." Son Alexander George Morison Smith was born in 1961, and Eric James Markson Smith in 1963. [Wagner - Tristan and Isolde 'Mein Irisch Kind']
In 1955-56 while at Harvard on a post-doctoral under Prof. Louis Fieser he had his kind of year, enjoying the museums in that area, and the Boston Symphony under Charles Munch and Leonard Bernstein. He also attended the General Assembly of the American Unitarian Association whose headquarters were in Boston in company with Mr. Frank Symons, a good friend and a leader in the Montreal Unitarian congregation. His notes also indicate a certain affinity for the Locke-Ober Restaurant in Boston. [ Wagner - Overture to 'Parsifal']
From Harvard he was hired by the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California. His itinerary took him through the Stratford Festival, then to Chicago, and by train to Oakland and ferry for San Francisco. Again he took advantage of the Symphony and Opera that was available there. [Schwarzkopf singing, from Puccini's "Turandot" 'Nessum dorma'; Strauss' "Rosenkavalier", 'Ja, Ja']
At Stanford Donald worked on wood - the irradiation and stabilization of redwood colouring, and on plastic irradiation for the U.S. Army. However, Donald was not one to admire the American political system, and refused to take out American citizenship. In May 1958 he moved up to U.B.C. with Dr. Bill Gibson under the direction of Drs. Edie and Pat McGeer to work on the Biochemistry of schizophrenia (paper chromatography). It was a one-year contract. After a tour of England and Germany in spring of 1959 with Doris, and visiting her relatives in Nurnberg and Munich, they returned to Ottawa to take up permanent employment with the Canadian Government through Dr. Ross A. Chapman.
I call now on Dr. Chapman to tell us about this very significant part of Donald's life.
The name Donald Morison Smith came to my attention early in 1959 as I read a resumé submitted by Don in support of his application for a position in the Food and Drug Research Laboratories. These laboratories are now located in the Health Protection Branch, Health Canada. I learned from the resumé that he had an excellent academic record, had studied in several different universities and had worked with a number of distinguished scientists. It was also obvious from the resumé that he could communicate through the written word, in clear, concise and grammatically correct English. This ability is not necessarily guaranteed by the degrees a scientist may have earned - but in Don we had a winner. He easily topped the competition and was taken on strength in the Food Research Division.
He carried out a number of projects employing gas chromatography, a relatively new technique at the time. But as usual Don's mind was working well beyond the boundaries of his own research projects - he was always looking as well at the larger picture. He noted that food additives were rapidly becoming an important part of the Directorate's responsibilities and in cooperation with a co-worker, Ron Reid, he developed the Food Additive Tables for the Food and Drug Regulations. This activity led to his next move. In 1965 he went to the U.N. Food and Agriculture in Rome to take over from Dr. Douglas Chapman as secretary of the Joint FAO / WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. Doug was returning to his position with Food and Drug Directorate in Ottawa. We were very pleased to have another member of the Directorate in the person of Don Smith take over this important international role. During the next two years he also served on many committees of the Codex Alimentarius - this is a compilation of food standards which have been adopted on an international basis. He attended meetings on various food categories in London, the Hague, West Berlin, Berne, Vienna, Washington and Ottawa among others. In 1967 he moved back to Canada with responsibility for Canada's Codex Alimentarius program, working with Doug Chapman, Ken Wells, Vivian Wightman and Geoff Anderson, and again did an excellent job.
During this period Don also became interested in the international control of narcotic drugs. In 1972 he joined me in International Health Services in order that he could take over Canada's involvement in the international control of narcotic drugs on my retirement the following year. Even knowing Don as well as I did, I could not have foreseen his remarkable achievements in this field. He headed Canadian delegations to the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs from 1974 to 1986, the year of his retirement. During this period he held the positions of rapporteur, 2nd and 1st Vice-President and in 1979 chaired that year's session of the Commission in Geneva. In this position he was able to have a bronze plaque set up in Lausanne cemetery commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Bishop Brent, the Canadian who initiated international control of narcotic drugs and chaired the first conference on the subject in Shanghai in 1909.
During his period of work with the Commission Don became convinced that the fight against drug abuse required efforts on the reduction of demand as well as reduction in supply. To further this approach, Don was involved with a non-governmental organization known as the International Council on Alcohol and Addictions and was named as an honorary Vice-President of the ICAA. On occasion of a meeting of the organization in Athens, Greece, Don was given the responsibility of presenting a copy of the proceedings to the Minister of Culture, who at that time was Melina Mercouri, the film star. She responded by planting a kiss on his cheek much to Don's delight.
During this period as Senior Scientific Advisor on International Affairs, he was also involved in other international activities. He served on the Canadian Committee for Science in NATO and was involved in the establishment of an Environmental Section of OECD. He attended, as Canadian representative, the WHO / UNICEF meeting that developed the code of practice for breast-milk substitutes which condemns the use of such products in third world countries. He advised the U.N. after pesticide misuse disasters in a number of developing countries which resulted from the use of products banned in the U.S. and helped produce the list of Banned Hazardous Chemicals and Unsafe Pharmaceutical Products.
This review covers only the highlights of Don's remarkable career but I believe they do reflect the stature of the man. Donald Morison Smith had a remarkable intellect, a remarkable capacity for understanding and knowledge. He was an individual who never stopped acquiring new information and this resulted in his involvement in projects far beyond his academic training. He had a singular ability to retain facts and figures and thus he was able to discuss with ease such diverse subjects as classical music, art and complex scientific concepts.
He had a wry sense of humour and could find something amusing in even difficult situations. He was a compassionate man and this was reflected in his family life as well the many activities for the benefit of mankind in which he was involved.
In his passing we have suffered a grievous loss but today we celebrate his life and the outstanding contributions he has made in so many fields.
[Back to Keith Dowd]
In 1968 Donald's father died and was cremated in the Mount Royal Crematorium, built by Don's Grandfather Morison. His Mother was in the Griffith-McConnell Home for a time, and died in 1973. Donald particularly appreciated the care given her by his brother-in-law Alton Locke and sister Betty.
During these years, Donald and Doris continued to travel with art tours run by Ruth Wilson in North Italy, Sicily, Austria, Germany, as well as traveling to see art in Burgundy and the Loire, Baroque Bavaria and so on.
In the 1980's both Alexander and Eric graduated from the cooperative program at Waterloo University with Bachelors degrees in Mathematics, having paid their own way throughout, and Alex went on to get a Masters degree with a thesis in Computer animation from Carleton University in 1991.
In 1985 Donald had heart surgery with severe side-effects, but recovered after a six-weeks-long coma. He retired in January 1986, nonetheless attending the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs that year, and the next year the Vienna Conference on Drug Abuse. Retirement did not mean inactivity. He served as Honourary Vice President of the International Council on Alcohol and Addictions, as a member of the Board of the Alzheimer Society of Canada, on their research and ethical policy committee under Justice Emmett Hall, and as chairman of their Research Committee as well as being founding member of Alzheimer International. He served as a member of the Board of the Friends of the National Gallery of Canada and Vice President, Administration. He was also a member of the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome and, after retirement, member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Addiction Research Foundation Journal.
He was also an active contributor to the life of this congregation. He served on a Ministerial Search Committee where he advocated that Canadian candidates be given preference. He assisted with the development of curricula for the Canadian Unitarian religious education programmes, and was a solid force on the Social Responsibility Committee. For a time he represented this congregation at our U.N. Office, and was a member of the Men's Club.
Another activity over the last nearly two decades, with his son Alex providing the computer programming, was the development of a computerized genealogical charting program, licensed to Quinsept in the U.S.A. since it is built upon their genealogical program, Family Roots. The accumulation of genealogical information was generously assisted by relatives from all over, especially Donald Robertson Morison of Kingussie, and other Canadian, Scottish and Estonian relatives and his own researches in Canadian Archives and Mormon microfiches.
Donald was informed about three years ago that echo-Doppler ultrasound examination of his heart showed that a leaf of porcine mitral valve replacement in the heart was torn, the valve was leaking and should be replaced. Due to lung involvement, the success rate would be 1 in 5, so Donald chose not to undergo the operation. He spoke to me on March 9, 1993, to arrange for today's Memorial Service, and I am certain you are aware that he provided me with complete notes. This, indeed, was another measure of the man.
I close the service with these thoughts;-
Epitaph on a Friend by Robert Burns
An honest man here lies at rest,
The friend of man, the friend of truth,
The friend of age, and guide of youth:
Few hearts like his, with virtue warmUd,
Few heads with knowledge so informUd:
If there's another world, he lives in bliss:
If there is none, he made the best of this.
[Postlude - from "Four Last Songs" by Richard Strauss, 'Going To Sleep', and 'In Evening's Glow'. Words in English and German on the handout.]