Jim Smith was born in January 16, 1925 and hailed from the Chatham area. After attending Westdale Technical Institute in Hamilton, he joined the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve and later served his country in the Fleet Air Arm, from 1944 to 1946. Smith became a journeyman mechanic after the war but was looking for a more interesting future.

He achieved this goal when he joined the O.P.P. on August 2, 1955. Jim became a corporal on January 15, 1966 and worked in identification services. On his own initiative he took a correspondence course with the Institute of Applied Science in Chicago in advanced fingerprints and photography.

On December 11, 1968 Jim Smith and Lorne Chapitis received a call requiring them both to go assist Minden Ontario Provincial Police at South Lake in response to a call that a man had threatened to kill his mother and was barricaded in the family home. Lorne was a trained hostage negotiator and Jim was adept at using tear gas. Corporal Smith and D/Sergeant Chapitis joined five Minden officers and they all surrounded the house. Two officers covered each door and one was a rover in between and the two Peterborough men waited to see how they could help. One officer lunged at the man when he left the house but had to swing around a toboggan leaning against the way. This allowed their quarry to get clear and he discharged a rifle into the floor.

Smith and Chapitis came closer and started to talk to the man. The man shouted for them to come closer where he could see them. When they did so, unarmed and hands held out to show they posed no threat to the man inside the house, the man fired three times, killing Chapitis instantly and wounding Smith so that he died within minutes.

One of the other officers present reacted by firing three shots to prevent the man from reaching his rifle. Another constable could see the shooter through a window, and when a cry rang out that the two officers were down, he disregarded his own safety and dived through the window, overpowered the suspect until others were able to secure the prisoner.