He's received the Order of Ontario, the Order of Canada and now businessman, philanthropist and volunteer Dave Smith can add his very own street — Dave Smith Crescent — to the pile of honours bestowed on the Ottawa native.
In what was billed as a surprise birthday present for Smith who turned 80 Wednesday, Mayor Jim Watson and Gloucester South Nepean Councillor Steve Desroches presented him with his very own street as part of the city's commemorative naming program that honours those demonstrating exceptional service to the City of Ottawa.
"Well turning 80, I don't really pay attention to the age because many years ago I started counting backwards. You know, it's just an identification number," quipped Smith on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning of the distinction. "But having a street named after me is quite exciting."
Born and raised in Ottawa to Russian-Jewish immigrants, Smith established himself in the business community by starting Nate's Deli, which spawned a successful catering business and later, several other popular restaurants.
But giving back to the community where he grew up continues to be Smith's forte. In addition to raising more than $140 million for various charities — local, national and international — over the years, Smith started a youth drug treatment centre in Ottawa (Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre) and the Ottawa Technical Learning Centre.
"People say 'well what makes you do this?' Well I remember in the winter time ... and my mother came home with no coat. And I looked at my mother and I said 'mom where's your coat?' And she said 'well somebody else needed it more than I did,’" recalled Smith.
"And I'll tell you, I never could never ever forget the expression on my mother's face, she just absolutely glowed when she told me that story."
Dave Smith Crescent is planned for a new development in the Riverside South neighbourhood.