Jori Smith was born in 1907 in Montréal, Québec. In 1922 she studied at the Art Association of Montréal, under Randolph Hewton. The school closed shortly after her enrollment, she entered the École des Beaux-Arts. She attended the Monument National concurrently, and would later study with Edwin Holgate.
Smith was known as a succesful portrait painter, watercolourist, draughtswoman and muralist. She was a founding member of the Eastern Group of Painters and Contemporary Arts Society,
In 1930 Smith and her husband made their first painting trip to the Charlevoix region. They spent a lot of time in this region over the following years.
In 1934 she travelled Europe, visiting France, Spain and England. While travelling she produced numerous landscapes in pen and ink, watercolour and oil.
In 1937, she held her first solo exhibition at Toronto's Picture Loan Society. Afterwards she continued to travel.
Smith was awarded the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' Jessie Dow Prize in 1955, and la Médaille de l'Assemblée nationale du Québec in 2001. She was a member of the Order of Canada, 2002, and The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.
She died in 2005.