As a child, traveling with my father, I was always aware of Charles Smith, Senior. Somehow, he was always doing three jobs at the same time.
In later years, to my surprise, I realized Charlie Sr. was a well-known and recommended bridge man for his expertise in trestles and bridge structures that had been engineered in an already bygone era. So, I would go find him in one of his lairs in Parkindale to ask for his help as I struggled getting the Salem and Hillsborough Railroad and rail-bed operational.
There were no plans, drawings or blueprints available to guide me or my motley crew of volunteers in the serious business of taking 100+ tons of thundering steel-wheel railcars across the wooden Hiram Trestle, the Weldon bridge and--the doozy of the time--the giant, long and deep Turtle Creek Trestle span, which in railway lore was one of the largest wooden rail bridge structures south of Grand Falls.
Turtle Creek Trestle and its miniature version, the Hiram Trestle, were structures of honeycombed timbers bolted together to link two high points of land across a long span. The trestles allowed the trains to avoid having to travel a much longer distance in a giant gradual circle across the country to get to the other side of a valley or ravine. Hiram Trestle (now removed) was a visual treat with a near 30-degree curve between the two sides, teetering above a small, vehicle pass-through on Dawson Settlement Road.
Charlie Sr. gave me confidence with his knowledge. He immediately lightened my burden and anxiety. He somehow led a team of pogey-starved bohunks from nearby Hillsborough and turned them into apprentice rail-bridge engineers.
Later, as a young adult, I really got to know Charlie Sr. I came to understand the vast amount of native engineering and self-taught physics leavened with uncommon, common sense Charlie Sr. had. He has a wonderful family legacy.
Charlie Sr. thought one of his best achievements was the work ethic and “never-say-can't” attitude of his son, Danny, whom he tutored in the art of backyard physics.
The fact that Danny, now the driving force of Charles Smith Construction Ltd., has such a well-branded and executed promotional headquarters, and carefully maintained distinctive equipment would make Charlie Sr. really proud. You had to know and see that first backhoe to understand how far and high the company has come. I think of Charlie Sr. on some days when I meet one of the distinctive blue, black and white super dump trucks on a Moncton-area highway far from home. I smile a little smile as I recall that the first one could barely make it out of Stoney Creek and up Scot’s Hill.
I took the time to write this because hundreds of others have bought equipment and paint, and have waxed and waned over the years, but Charles Smith Construction Ltd. endures, strives and succeeds on a daily basis. It ain't ever easy. The essence of professionalism is making it all look easy and calm even when the opposite is true. It's a hell of a family business story. To all of you: Bravo!