News, Politics

Lincoln Alexander Was A Model For Young People

State funeral for Lincoln Alexander
State funeral procession for Lincoln Alexander. Image: Joey Coleman

Lincoln Alexander was the lieutenant-governor of Ontario from 1985 to 1991.

He was the first black person to hold that post in the country’s history. He was also Canada’s first black Member of Parliament.

Lincoln Alexander died on Oct. 19, at the age of 90. He was given a state funeral, which is a high honour.

Alexander died in Hamilton, Ont., where he had lived for many years.

Throughout his career, Alexander supported youth leadership and he fought racism.

Alexander, born in 1922, was the child of a railway porter and a maid who came separately to Canada from the Caribbean to find a better life. Their son, Lincoln, became one of Canada’s most inspiring leaders.

His firsts were many. He was the first black person elected to Canada’s House of Commons and the first black person to be named a lieutenant-governor*. He was the first black partner in a Canadian law firm and first black Minister in the Federal Government.

Alexander was a special friend to youth and promoted education and racial equality. When he was lieutenant-governor of Ontario, an awards program for young people was set up in his name. The Lincoln M. Alexander award honours youth who are leaders in fighting discrimination and racism in their schools or communities.Lincoln Alexander; Image courtesy the Lieutenant Governor’s Office

At his funeral, his granddaughter spoke about her love for her grandfather and his advice to always be proud of her heritage.

Several schools, a highway, an entertainment centre and other buildings have been named after Lincoln Alexander.

*A lieutenant-governor (in Canada, usually pronounced “lef-tenant” governor) is the Queen’s representative in the province.

A note about the photo on our home page that accompanies this article: We changed the image on our home page for this article twice in order to post a better image that helps the reader understand who Lincoln Alexander was. We thank the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario for supplying the black and white portrait of Lincoln Alexander. 

By Kathleen Tilly and Joyce Grant

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Lincoln Alexander was given a state funeral. What do you think a state funeral is? What do you think happens at a state funeral compared with other funerals?

Reading Prompt: Reading Unfamiliar Words
According to Wikipedia, some people pronounce lieutenant like “loo-tenant” and some people pronounce it like “lef-tenant.”

In this Wikipedia article, find the information on “pronunciation” and create a T-chart outlining who, and why, people pronounce lieutenant different ways. (Note: Wikipedia pages may be, but are not specifically designated as, kid-friendly.)

Junior and Intermediate
Predict the meaning of and rapidly solve unfamiliar words using different types of cues (OME, Reading: 3.2).

Grammar Feature: Abbreviations
Ont. is short for Ontario. “Ont.” is called a short-form or an abbreviation.

Write the short forms, or abbreviations, for these provinces and territories. Look them up on this Natural Resources Canada website afterwards to see if you were correct–you may be surprised to discover that the post office often uses different abbreviations.


British Columbia______________

Northwest Territories__________







New Brunswick_______________

Nova Scotia__________________

Prince Edward Island___________