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Canada remembers Lincoln Alexander on Lincoln Alexander Day

Tributes are coming in Saturday in honour of Lincoln Alexander Day, who died in  2012 at age 90. Lincoln Alexander is remembered for so many firsts—first Black MP, cabinet minister, chair of the Workmen’s Compensation Board and first Black Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. He was also the longest-serving Chancellor of the University of Guelph.

The Province of Ontario proclaimed January 21 “Lincoln Alexander Day” in Ontario. It became law in December 2013. The Federal government followed suit with Royal Assent by the Governor General on December 9, 2014, and January 21 is now recognized officially as “Lincoln Alexander Day” and was celebrated across Canada for the first time in 2015.

On that first Lincoln Alexander day Jason Kenney, then Minister for Multiculturalism, said:

“It is with great pride that I mark the occasion of the very first Lincoln Alexander Day across Canada. On this date each year, Canadians will have the opportunity to be inspired by the life and work of a great Canadian.

“Born in 1922 to a father who was a porter and a mother who was a maid, Alexander was determined to obtain education and training, overcome prejudice, and pursue excellence.

“Following service in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Alexander became a lawyer, then Canada’s first black M.P. and cabinet minister. In 1985, he was named Ontario’s 24th Lieutenant Governor by Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney.

“Afterwards Alexander was the longest serving Chancellor at the University of Guelph, from 1991 until 2007.

“When Alexander died, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said: ‘Lincoln’s legacy will live on through his family, through the schools and awards that bear his name and through the memories Canadians hold of his long record of distinguished public service.’

“Lincoln Alexander blazed trails. I hope his example will inspire the young and many generations to come.”

In addition to the naming of the Lincoln Alexander Expressway in his honour, Alexander as received numerous other honours:

  • In 2018, Canada Post marked Black History Month with stamps featuring Alexander and Kay Livingstone.
  • Several schools have been named in his honor.
  • The Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway municipal expressway in Hamilton, was named in his honour.
  • On May 6, 2021, Ryerson University’s (now Toronto Metropolitan University) faculty of law was renamed the Lincoln Alexander School of Law in his honour.
  • Appointments to the Order of Canada, Order of Ontario and several others
  • Three Queen Elizabeth Jubilee medals (silver, golden and diamond) as well as several military medals.

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