The Sir Albert Smith Home in Dorchester was designated for being associated with the influence of Sir Albert Smith on provincial and federal politics, with Lady Sarah Marie Young Smith, and with Mount Allison University, as well as for its architecture and for its use as a community development center.
The Sir Albert Smith Home is recognized for its association with Sir Albert James Smith. Sir Smith moved into this residence probably circa 1862 when his house on Cape Road burned down. Born May 12, 1822 in Shediac, Westmorland County, Albert James Smith became a successful Dorchester lawyer, politician, ship owner and businessman. “Bully-boy Smith”, the “Smasher of Privilege”, the “Douglas of Dorchester”and the “Lion of Westmorland” were some of the colorful nicknames given to this early New Brunswick politician. He was elected Premier of New Brunswick in 1865. He went on to become a very successful federal minister of Marine and Fisheries under the Liberal government of Alexander MacKenzie. In 1877, he negotiated 5.5 million dollars in financial compensation for American fisheries in Canadian waters. This victory brought Smith the first knighthood in the history of the province. It is Smith who brought a federal penitentiary to his home village of Dorchester in 1880. Sir Albert Smith died in Dorchester on June 30, 1883.
The Sir Albert Smith Home is also recognized for its association with Sir Smith’s influence on the New Brunswick Liberal Party and Canadian Confederation. Smith was among those strongly opposed to Confederation who regrouped loosely as “Liberals”, which did not become a coherent party until 1883. Through his actions, Sir Smith delayed the Confederation of Canada by two years. It was a thoroughly chastened Smith who was elected to the House of Commons for Westmorland in 1867.
The Sir Albert Smith Home is also recognized for its association with Lady Sarah Marie Young Smith and Mount Allison University. Albert James Smith married Sarah Marie Young on June 11, 1862, at the age of 46 while his wife was 21. Later, as a widow, the eccentric and frugal Lady Smith and her eccentric descendants, who all married into wealthy families, hoarded the cumulative family fortunes of several million dollars. This fortune of three generations was mostly given to Mount Allison University, as the Smith family was eventually left with no further descendants. This contributed significantly to Mount Allison University becoming the wealthiest university in Canada on an endowment per student basis.
Sir Albert Smith Home is also recognized for its architecture. It is believed that the wooden section of the Sir Albert Smith Home was built circa 1840 by Robert T. Moore. The red Flemish bond brick extension was probably built circa 1868 to accommodate Sir Smith’s young wife. While both sections adhere to the austere and symmetrical Georgian style through their gable and hipped roofs and wall sheathing, the two sections are distinct in their respective clapboard and brick exterior cladding.
Sir Albert Smith House is recognized for its use as a community development center. In the 20th century, the house and its grounds continued to be used as a private home but more recently as a facility for provincial government offices, penitentiary training, arts and culture functions, evangelical retreats, youth activities and other community events.
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