Born in Vancouver on August 7, 1943, Ron Smith received his BA from the University of British Columbia in 1969 and his MA from the University of Leeds in 1970, before becoming a professor at Malaspina University-College in Nanaimo, where he taught English and Creative Writing between 1971 and 1998.

In 1974 he founded the publishing company Oolichan Books in Lantzville, and from 1988 to 1991 he was the fiction editor for Douglas & McIntyre. He was also instrumental in helping establish BC's first Indigenous press, Theytus Books, in 1981. With Stephen Guppy he co-edited the first anthology of Vancouver Island fiction, Rainshadow Stories from Vancouver Island (Oolichan/Sono Nis, 1982).

In 1984, Ron Smith released a suite of poems, Seasonal, about his daughter and about which Robert Bringhurst wrote: "It's a wonderful book....There are not many sequence of poems being published these days which it is cleansing to read, but this is one." He followed this with a long poem entitled A Buddha Named Baudelaire (Sono Nis, 1988). Since then he has published two more books of poetry and self-published a collection of fiction, What Men Know About Women. [See Review]

Ron Smith's The Defiant Mind: Living Inside a Stroke (Ronsdale $22.95) is a personal account of what it's like to have a massive ischemic stroke to the brain stem. Smith recounts struggles with communication, the frustrations of being written off, the role of memory in recovering identity, the value of therapy and, above all, his passion to live. Including suggestions for improvement of care for stroke victims, The Defiant Mind is for stroke survivors, caregivers and medical professionals. The Defiant Mind won an IPPY Gold Medal from the Independent Publishers Group in the United States for the autobiography/memoir category.

In 2020, Ron Smith co-authored with the subject of the book, Dr. Bernard Binns: Improbable Journeys: from Crossing the Himalayas on Horseback to a Career in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Rock's Mills Press $29.95). Binns was educated in the UK but practiced most of his career in Winnipeg before moving to B.C. in the 1990s. Binns added to his credentials by training in infectious diseases in San Francisco just as the aids epidemic broke out (early eighties), taught at the University of Manitoba for ten years, attended as the only physician at the one remaining abortion clinic in Manitoba after another doctor was shot, and worked with the Inuit at the end of his career proposing that medical services needed to be maintained in the Inuit 'homeland'. In his early life, Binns had followed his father, also a physician, from one appointment to another. Hence Binns's birth in the Falkland Islands, to life in India and Chinese Turkestan, to Nigeria and Uganda. At one time in his life the only languages he spoke were Urdu, Hindi and Turki.

Upon his retirement from teaching, Smith was named the first Honorary Research Associate of the Faculty of Arts and First Nations Studies at Malaspina University-College. He has given reading and lecture tours in the U.S., Italy, Albania, England and across Canada. In 2002, a selection of his poetry was translated by Ada Donati and published in a book-length bilingual edition, Arabesque e altre poesie, in Italy (Schifanoia Editore). In 2004 his play, The Boarder, was selected for a "process reading" as a part of the New Play Festival at the Playwright's Theatre Centre in Vancouver.

Ron Smith received an Honorary Doctorate, D. Litt., from the University of British Columbia in the spring of 2002. He lives with his wife, novelist Pat Smith, near Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island. Smith has played an essential role in the growth of literary, historical and public policy publishing in British Columbia. In 2011, he received the Gray Campbell Distinguished Service Award presented annually by the Association of Book Publishers of B.C. to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the book industry in the province. [See speech below]


Co-authored with Dr. Bernard Binns: Improbable Journeys: from Crossing the Himalayas on Horseback to a Career in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Rock's Mills Press, 2020) $29.95 978-1-77244-193-2
The Defiant Mind: Living Inside a Stroke (Ronsdale, 2016) $22.95 978-1-55380-464-2
Kid Dynamite: The Gerry James Story 978-0-88982-276-4
Elf the Eagle (Oolichan, 2007). Illustrated by Ruth Campbell.
Arabesque e altre poesie (Schifanoia Editore, Italy, 2002)
What Men Know About Women (Oolichan, 1999)
The Last Time We Talked (Reference West, 1996)
Enchantment & Other Demons (Oolichan, 1995)
A Buddha Named Baudelaire (Sono Nis, 1988)
Collected Poems of Ralph Gustafson, Vol 1 & 2, editor (Sono Nis, 1982)
Seasonal (Sono Nis, 1984)
Rainshadow: Stories from Vancouver Island (Oolichan/Sono Nis, 1982)

AWARDS: Shortlisted, CBC Literary competition for fiction, 1995

Gray Campbell Award, 2011.

[LITHIS / BCBW 2017] "Fiction" "Poetry" "Publishing"