Matt Smith comes from a long line of Smiths, with the Smith family legacy in Ontario dating back to 1805. At the Covent Garden Market, his great, great grandfather, Chauncey Smith, sold fruits and vegetables starting in the 1880s. There is a mural at the entrance of the new market of Chauncey Smith to commemorate the area where he had a booth. The family legacy continues today with the fifth and sixth generation running several businesses in the Market today! Chances are any Smiths you might meet in London would be related somehow.
Following in the entrepreneurial spirit of the Smith family. Matt Smith opened his business, Wortley Auto Service. “I opened my business two years ago but I have been working on cars for 25 years. It’s my passion because cars are magic” declared Smith. His 1949 International Harvester pick up truck, an old delivery truck, is only one example of his many vehicles he works on and personally owns.
I first met Matt at Wortley Auto Service, when I spotted a vehicle sitting in his lot that I had always coveted. During our conversation he mentioned to me he had just had the Architectural Conservancy Ontario (ACO) prepare the history of his home on Garfield Street near Calvary United Church just east of Ridout Street. Turns out he is a History buff who studied History in High School and University . He learned the original owner of his home was Roy Carroll, a Manager of the Riverdale Tire Corporation, on Talbot Street, where the Budweiser Gardens is now located. Smith has lived in his home for six years. “I purchased the home because I loved the neighbourhood and the original staircase in the home sealed the deal!”, stated Smith. The home has seen many improvements since 1924. With one improvement that makes sense to a car aficionado is a heated garage and workshop in the back yard. “Cars get me excited, there is so much history in them too”, he explained.
While working on the back garden he also discovered yellow brick remains of the former building that he suspects belonged to Calvary United Church (early 1900’s land maps show a “Sunday School Building” in that vicinity. The home was owned by Calvary united at one point and was leased to tenants who eventually purchased the home in 1991.
The home was originally built by R.G Wilson and Sons, and was part of the plan by the City of London that established the Housing Commission to assist building homes as part of the housing shortage in 1919. Loans were provided to construct 177 homes, 17 of which were homes on Garfield Ave., with Smith’s home being one of them. They are easily identifiable by the same front porches.
If you ever need your vehicle looked at, drive in to see Matt. I am sure he’ll have some more history to share in addition to servicing your vehicle!