In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Victor “Vic” Smith
Professor Emeritus Victor “Vic” Smith recently passed away on April 15th. Both a student and faculty member of the Faculty of Forestry, Dr. Smith first earned his BScF in 1949. After venturing up north to work in Espanola, Ontario as a district forest engineer, he returned to the Faculty in 1963 to complete his MScF. Then it was onwards to Iowa State University for a PhD in forest measurement and statistics.
In 1970 Dr. Smith and his family resettled in Toronto to begin his teaching career at the University of Toronto and stayed at the Faculty of Forestry until his retirement in 1992. His teaching and research focused on forest mensuration and he played a very major role in the education of professional foresters.
According to one former faculty member:
“Most students and faculty will remember Vic for his tireless energy as the leader of Spring Camp at Dorset and the Petawawa National Forestry Institute. This was the students’ first exposure to traditional field methods of timber cruising. Vic stressed the need for accurate data collection, good record keeping, and rigorous analysis of the data. Lessons learned at Spring Camp under Vic’s leadership set the groundwork for other field courses and future careers in forestry.”
And a former BScF student reflecting on Dr. Smith’s many important contributions:
“When I entered the faculty, Vic was legendary as the lead for the spring camp at the end of first year which focused on field measurement techniques, but was the first immersion for students in what it meant to be a field forester. Moving through the bush with compass and chain, closing transects, using a prism, and gathering, then analysing cruise data – rain or shine – was formative for all forestry students of the day. And Vic Smith led the cadre of instructors and professors – teaching both the finer points of field work, mensuration calculations, and getting the precision right at the end of the day.
Dr. Smith also taught 2nd year Forest Mensuration – another pivotal course for forestry students to understand a core skill – sorting out volumes and yield curves from sample data. In addition, he advanced the science through research and the supervision of graduate students. His legacy informs the calculations foresters use regularly but the public seldom see or understand. As part of the Faculty of Forestry for several decades, he helped to shape hundreds of professionals entrusted with forest planning decisions across Canada.”
Not only was he a full professor and associate dean, Dr. Smith also served on the University’s Governing Council from 1984 to 1992. A busy man, even in retirement, he loved his learning and research, completing scholarly papers with plans to update past findings right up until this year.
A service to celebrate Dr. Smith’s life will be held at a later date. Details and donation information can be found at: