Lance Corporal

Henry William Smith

 Lance Corporal Smith sailed with the main body of the Columbia Detachment on board the Thames City, arriving in British Columbia the 12th April of 1859.

While in the Camp, Smith appears to have originally worked in the Observatory under the direction of Captain Parsons.  Eventually Smith appears he replaced Medical Orderly Hazel as a pharmacist and orderly in the Camp Hospital.

A schoolmistress was provided from among the daughters of the Royal Engineers, also a meteorological recorder from the same fruitful source.  His instruments were set up near the school, and the Camp noticed that it seemed quite necessary that he should wend his way up the hill to record the wind and weather at the identical time the schoolmistress wended her way up to school.  They further observed that his respectful salutations were at first received with scorn, but finally elicited a gracious acknowledgement; then that they walked up together, talking as they went.  After a while it became necessary for the young man to make his observations four times a day, and these accorded exactly with the going and coming of the school teacher.  This young man, Mr. Smith, having received the education of a chemist and druggist before joining the Corps, was appointed in charge of the newly-made hospital, with comfortable quarters, and what was to hinder him from taking to himself a wife?  Many looked jealously on, but Smith was the lucky one, and the date for the first wedding in Camp was set.

The bride-to-be found some difficulty in obtaining a white bonnet.  There was only one in town, which was much too large for her and very old-fashioned, but she had no choice.  Of white kid gloves there were several pairs to choose from, but the smallest to be had were about three sizes too large, as a five would have fitted the little woman's hand.  Her dark eyes looked very handsome under the big bonnet - at least many there thought so; and the gloves, after all, were not of much consequence; their size made them go on and off easily.

-- Pg. 63 of "The Pathless West", Emily Herring.

In October 1860, The New Westminster Times reports:

New Westminster Times
3rd October 1860

Married - On the 24th alt., by the Reverend Mr. Sheepshanks, at the Temporary Church, Camp, New Westminster, Mr. Henry William Smith, Lance Corporal RE, to Miss Sarah Sophia Hill.

Frances Herring continues her tale of the Smith-Hill Marriage.

The Officers determined to give them a good send-off, so they met the young couple at the hospital on their return from the church with music and military honors.  Going in to the wedding breakfast, they insisted upon mixing the "Loving Cup" in a basin from the bridal chamber, and from this article everyone present was expected to follow the bride in taking a sip.

--Pg. 64 "The Pathless West", Frances Herring.

A note in Beth Hill's book, "Sappers: The Royal Engineers in British Columbia", mentions "Miss Sarah Sophia Hill, the school teacher." (pg.76).  It appears that in October 1860, there was but one school in the mainland of British Columbia, that being the RE School at the Camp.  If Beth Hill's note is indeed correct, then this Miss Hill is in fact the un-named step-daughter of Sapper Crart RE, and his wife (who took her life in 1859).

If the story holds true then Sarah and Lance Corporal Smith take in her brother, Alfred Herring, and raise him in the family, eventually teaching him the trade of pharmacist.

Lance Corporal Smith appears in the Consolidated Pay List for June 1861 as a Sapper.   Incidentally, the rank of Lance Corporal does not exist in the 1861 pay List.

As a Lance Corporal Smith's Regimental Pay per Diem would have been 1s. 2 1/2d. plus Working Pay per Diem of 1s. to 4s.

As a Sapper Smith's Regimental Pay per Diem would have been 1s. 2 1/2d. plus Working Pay per Diem of 1s. to 4s.

Smith also appears to have been a practicing Anglican churchman, and was one of a group of the detachment members who wanted their own church.  This church would become the present day St. Mary's the Virgin in New Westminster.

September 30 1862 - I was asked to day on behalf of the Sappers to aid in erecting a Church at Sapperton.  Corporal Smith told me he was very anxious about the matter himself as he was a churchman and wished to see a Church erected in the Midst of the property belonging to the Sappers which they could call there own.  They would purchase 4 acres and have a church, School and Burial ground.  I was most glad to encourage them.

--From Bishop Hills' journal

The Smith family increases.

From the Ledger of the Church at the RE Camp kept by Archdeacon Wright, Detachment Chaplain


19 May 1863 (Born 21 Apr. 1863) - Emily Jane; Daughter of Henry William and Sarah Sophia Smith; Corporal RE

Smith appears to have remained in the Colony after the Disbandment in 1863.

According to Frances Woodward, he opened and operated a drugstore in New Westminster from 1863 - 1870.

In 1866, Smith became a member of the Board of Health of New Westminster, remaining there until 1870.

According to a source at the BC Archives:

Mrs. Charles Edward Printer, nee Madalena Smith; born in New Westminster in 1868; daughter of Henry William Smith, first druggist with the Royal Engineers.  A photograph of her can be purchased from the BC Archives Call Number G-09436

On the 29th of April, 1870 he received Crown Grant, for Lot 46, Group 2, New Westminster District, 150 acres. 

In 1870, Henry William Smith dies.