John Smeltzer died peacefully on March 25, 2017 at the Newmarket Health Centre surrounded by friends. John was 66 years old. One of the very early members of L’Arche Daybreak, John grew up up in nearby King City where his loving parents lived on a farm. L’Arche Daybreak’s founding Community Leader, Steve Newroth, had promised John’s mother that he would have a home at Daybreak. As Daybreak was then a working farm, John offered an experienced hand in the barn and the fields. John claimed Daybreak as his home with great passion, and he called others to claim theirs. “Where is Your Home?” is the title of the first video about John created by filmmaker Deiren Masterson. The video beautifully illustrates John’s embrace of his community, his friends, and his neighbours.
For many years John made his Saturday rounds, walking down Yonge Street where he knew people at every store, coffee shop, and car dealership. John was also well known for playing the spoons, and he did so regularly at area pubs. His command performance was with Natalie McMaster for a live audience of thousands that is featured on the second video about John by Deiren masterson, “Spoon Man.”
When Pope John Paul II visited Toronto for World Youth Day in 2002, John and Dan Cook animated three gatherings for seven thousand young people. Over his 47 years at Daybreak, John befriended countless people from around the world. John’s friendship and care transformed so many lives. John moved to the Newmarket Health Centre in early 2016 where he continued to carry his mission for building relationships and calling people to a place of home. The stories that John inspired will preserve his memory in our hearts and in the history of L’Arche.
John is survived by his uncle, Fergus Lawson, of Newmarket, who was close to John all his life.
Time of Visitation
Thursday, March 30th, 3-7pm
11339 Yonge Street
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Celebration of Life/Funeral
Friday, March 31st, 10:30am
St. Mary’s Anglican Church
10030 Yonge Street
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Everyone is welcome to a luncheon reception following the service.
PLEASE NOTE: The entrance to St. Mary’s is from a driveway on the north-west corner of Major Mackenzie Drive and Yonge Street. While the church is clearly visible from Yonge Street, there is no entrance by foot or vehicle from Yonge Street. The driveway leads to a large parking lot. The church is wheelchair accessible.