Frank Smith was one of the most vital hockey administrators in the history of Toronto. His drive and foresight co-ordinated the game in one of Canada's largest cities, the impact of which is still felt generations later.
Smith was born in the south-western Ontario community of Chatham but grew up in Toronto. As a young man he managed and played for various lacrosse and hockey teams including the Beaches club which captured the Ontario Amateur Lacrosse Association junior title in 1915.
The early life of Frank Smith conditioned his thinking on the need for organized sport in the lives of young people. As a boy, he objected to the limitations placed on his recreation and the lack of opportunities to play. He and his friends were not permitted to access the school grounds after classes and they were often admonished by the police for playing on the street. He soon vowed to do whatever possible to create organized outlets where young people could partake in sports.
When he was seventeen, Smith met with a few of his closest associates in his own home to discuss the formation of a Toronto-wide hockey circuit which became known as the Beaches League at first. He volunteered as secretary to oversee operations and remained in the same basic position for half a century.
Over the years he revisited plans and moulded this operation into the Metropolitan Toronto Hockey League (MTHL), the largest entity of its kind in the world. His philosophy was that the new league would be a large extended family and that is precisely how he treated all subsequent members. The league grew from a membership of 99 players in 1911 to over 20,000 by the time he died in 1964.
Smith worked in the graphic arts industry for years and rose to the vice-presidency of the Photo Engravers Union and treasurer of his Toronto Local. His work and failing health took up too much of his time by the early 1960s and he was forced to retire from hockey in 1962. In 1956 he was honoured by being one of thirty Canadians chosen to visit England to attend the Duke of Edinburgh's study conference on human problems in industrial communities.
Smith's enormous contribution to the game over the years brought him many accolades and awards. He was named a MTHL life member, was the recipient of the OHA Gold Stick Award, and was presented the City of Toronto Award of Merit.
Smith was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.