‘Linc’ dies at age 90
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 10:10
Lincoln Alexander, the former Ontario Lieutenant-Governor and Canada’s first black MP passed away on Oct. 19 at the age of 90.
The funeral that was held at Hamilton Place on Oct. 26 drew thousands of people from family to dignitaries including Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Governor General David Johnston and Provincial Lieutenant-Governor David Onley.
“A whole city, province and country, is mourning his passing,” said Rev. Allison Barrett, who lead the service as reported by CBC News.
“I see you as a true human being with flaws and perfections,” said Erika Alexander, reading from a letter she wrote to her grandfather.
“He epitomized what is best in humanity,” the CBC reported former McMaster President Peter George saying before the funeral. “He dedicated his life to his city and his country. He was without equal.”
Michaëlle Jean, former Governor of Canada, spoke to reporters with regard to Alexander’s passing at the funeral.
“He is certainly enigmatic of what Canada is all about. The man was fantastic with a great sense of humour and filled with generosity,” Jean told the CBC. “I knew that he was someone I could count on. I could ask him questions, have great conversations with him and talk about the World because it can be quite lonely having such responsibilities.”
Jean and Alexander shared many commonalities including their stance on youth initiatives in Canada.
“He had a great sense of duty. Serving was of great importance for Lincoln Alexander; serving his people, serving Canada, and also a sense of inclusiveness,” Jean told the CBC. “I think he believed also in the institution. He believed in responsibility and of having a responsibility as a politician. One thing that we shared is we really believed in the youth, what young people could achieve, developing a sense of civic responsibility with the youth; and it’s something that we often talked about because my legacy is about supporting youth initiatives, social engaged youth initiatives and I believe it was something very dear to his heart.”
Alexander served as Lieutenant-Governor from 1985 to 1991. Among his other accomplishments at the provincial level, he was Ontario’s first black Vice-Regal, the CBC reported.
Born in Toronto in 1922 to West Indian immigrants, Alexander was with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War for four years beginning in 1942.
He moved to Hamilton and attended McMaster University, graduating in 1949. Four years later, he graduated from Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Law School.
Alexander first ran federally as a Conservative in 1965 in Hamilton West, but lost before finally getting elected in 1968, becoming the first black MP. He was re-elected in 1972, 1979 and 1980.
As Canada’s first black Cabinet Minister, he held the labour portfolio from 1979 to 1980 under the government of Joe Clark.