|The Rt. Hon. The Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal,|
GCMG, GVCO, PC, DL (1820-1914)
Having achieved phenomenal success, wealth and power in Canada, Lord Strathcona spent his final years in London. Appropriately for a great architect of the British Empire, his funeral service was conducted at Westminster Abbey, where a commemorative stained glass window remains to this day.
Lord Strathcona's imposing mausoleum stands near the entrance to London's famed Highgate Cemetery.
Despite his extremely long, successful and varied career, Lord Strathcona is perhaps best remembered for driving "The Last Spike" into the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway, the construction of which was essential for the creation of modern Canada and became a symbol of national unity.
The photograph taken of Lord Strathcona on that occasion (shown below) remains one of the iconic images of Canadian history and is regarded as a symbol of national pride and achievement.
"The Last Spike"
In 1896 Smith declined the offer to succeed Canadian Prime Minister Sir Mackenzie Bowell and, instead, accepted appointment as Canada's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. A month after his appointment he was elevated from Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (1886) to Grand Cross of the Order (GCMG) in The Queen's Birthday Honours List. A year later he was created Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, of Glencoe in the County of Argyll and of Mount Royal in the Province of Quebec and Dominion of Canada.
Continuing his business interests, Smith helped to establish the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (the forerunner of British Petroleum / BP) and would become its chairman in 1909.
|Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadian) in ceremonial uniform today|
According to tradition, the famous "Strathcona Boots" worn in dress uniform by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were adopted by the Mounties after they served with the Strathcona Horse during the Boer War. The famous stetsons worn by the Mounties were also allegedly inspired during this period, perhaps from the Strathcona Horse. Disbanded in 1901 and revived in 1909, with augmentations to its name, Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) exists today as a regular armoured regiment of the Canadian Army with HRH The Prince of Wales as its Colonel-in-Chief.
In keeping with the spirit of the age, Lord Strathcona became one of the Empire's greatest philanthropists, using his wealth to support organisations in the UK, Canada and across the Empire. With his cousin and Canadian Pacific Railway partner Lord Mount Stephen, Lord Strathcona funded the construction of Montreal's famous Royal Victoria Hospital. Established in 1893 "to be for the use of the sick and ailing without distinction of race or creed", the "Royal Vic" was the most advanced and best equipped hospital in North America. The hospital exists to this day and is closely affiliated with that other great Montreal institution, McGill University. A major benefactor to McGill, Lord Strathcona established a school for women there in 1884 and would become Chancellor of the University from 1888 until his death.
|The stunning Imperial Institute. Nothing remains of the original building save for the|
tremendous tower. The rest of the buildilng was destroyed by architectural vandals to
redevelop the site for Imperial College
|The Lord Strathcona Medal,|
the highest award that can be conferred on
a Canadian cadet.
The Medal bears the bust of Lord Strathcona
|Knebworth House, leased by Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal until his death|
In England, Lord Strathcona lived at 53 Cadogan Square in London and leased Knebworth House until his death. In Scotland he owned Glencoe House and Colonsay House (having purchased the Inner Hebrides island of Colonsay in 1905, which remains in the possession of the family today). In Montreal Lord Strathcona lived at 1157 Dorchester Street in the famous Golden Square Mile.
Lord Strathcona's memory lives on through numerous portraits, memorials, streets, parks and municipalities in Canada.
In Britain his memory endures though the memorial stained glass window erected in Westminster Abbey (see below) and also at his imposing Mausoleum in London's celebrated Highgate Cemetery.
|Mausoleum of Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal|
in Highgate Cemetery, London.
Lord Strathcona's mausoleum is one of the most imposing in the historic cemetery
and occupies a prime position by the entrance.