Fonds 0367 - Joseph Thomas (Digby) Smith fonds

Grande Prairie Hotel, Grande Prairie, Alberta. James Andrew Digby Smith, Grande Prairie, Alberta. The Imperial Bank of Canada, Grande Prairie, Alberta. Dorothy Smith and son, James, Grande Prairie, Alberta. Dorothy Smith, with children in front of "Home." Stuck in the mud in Grande Prairie, Alberta. James Andrew Digby Smith, Grande Prairie, Alberta.

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Joseph Thomas (Digby) Smith fonds

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  • Graphic material

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the fonds.

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Reference code

CA GPR 0367

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Statement of scale (cartographic)

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1919-1921 (Creation)
    Smith, Joseph Thomas (Digby)

Physical description area

Physical description

7 photographs

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Joseph Thomas Smith, known as Joseph Digby Smith in Canada, was born in 1892 in Warrington, Lancashire, UK. In 1913 he emigrated to Canada, probably arriving in Quebec. He worked in a bank until the First World War. On September 24, 1914 he became part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, in the 3rd Brigade Canadian Field Artillery, eventually being promoted to Captain. He fought at Ypres, the Sommes and Paschendale. He met his future wife, Dorothy Margaret Rooke, from Birmingham, UK, during a training period or on leave, and they were married in Birmingham in April, 1916. Joseph survived the war and his son, James Andrew Digby Smith was born in May, 1918, in Birmingham. Digby was demobbed in 1919 and sailed for Canada on a troop ship June 12, 1919. For a short time he worked at a bank in St. Catherines, Ontario, then was posted to the Imperial Bank of Canada in Grande Prairie. The photos reveal they lived in a sort of caboose and Dorothy likely found the life very hard as she was unhappy there. A daughter , Lucy, was born June 20, 1920, in Grande Prairie. Digby suffered from depression after the traumas of the war and was away from home often which put the marriage under great strain. He requested a transfer and they moved to Ruddell near North Battleford, Sask. But the marriage broke up in 1922. Digby went south to the USA and Dorothy returned to the UK with the children. Dorothy remarried and Digby, when he retired, returned to Canada and died in Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island in 1973. The son, James, who was the donor's father, remembers his father talking to him about their life in Grande Prairie.

Custodial history

The photographs and biographical information were donated to the South Peace Regional Archives by Carol Sayarer, granddaughter of Joseph Thomas Smith, in 2009.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of 7 photographs and biographical information.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The photographs and biographical information were donated to the South Peace Regional Archives by Carol Sayarer, grandaughter of Joseph Thomas Smith, in 2009.


Language of material

  • The material is in English.

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There are no restrictions on access.

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No accruals are expected.

Alpha-numeric designations

Accession number: 2009.084

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South Peace Regional Archives

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Language of description

  • English

Script of description


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