DUniv. 2001

Honorary Doctorate Recipient


David Smith, auctioneer, entrepreneur, philanthropist extraordinaire, gives new meaning to the phrase "Reach for the stars." In addition to the regular patrons of his restaurants, he has fed Canada's political elite, Hollywood stars and the spirit of our society's most famished.

The son of a Russian shoemaker ("solesaver," says Smith), and the youngest of 13, Smith was born with business savvy and a propensity to share. In 1960, he and his sister opened Nate's Deli on Rideau Street, today a thriving business. He opened another delicatessen in Santa Monica, California. Beyond his own affairs, for the past 40 years, Smith's philanthropic activities have cut across all segments of society and his fund-raising efforts have raised $80 million for charities. He has helped such organizations as the Shepherds of Good Hope, the Boys and Girls Club, the Ottawa Ballet, the Humane Society, and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. He has raised funds for breast cancer and Aboriginal children. He has helped treat young drug and alcohol addicts (the David Smith Centre, opened in 1993), fed seniors breakfast and chatted to street kids in downtown Ottawa. Further afield, somewhere in Africa a villager drinks clean water from a well, somewhere in India a little girl lives a normal life after surgery, somewhere in Central America the aftermath of a hurricane is a little diminished. Somewhere in Nepal, Tibet, Romania . . . someone has new hope because of Smith.

If the University also granted doctorates in volunteering, Smith would be a deserving candidate, particularly in this Year of the Volunteer.

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