Tuesday, July 22nd20.8°C
22712
21911

Lincoln Alexander: Gone but not forgotten

Canada topics.

Moderators: oneh2obabe, Jo, ferri, Triple 6

Lincoln Alexander: Gone but not forgotten

Postby oneh2obabe » Oct 19th, 2012, 7:00 pm

Image
Lincoln Alexander was arguably one of Ontario’s most popular LGs, a big man with big personality that left many total strangers feeling he was one of them, especially when he said, “just call me Linc.”

Richard J. Brennan NATIONAL AFFAIRS WRITER

5 Comments

Lincoln Alexander, who died Friday at age 90, was the antithesis of a stuffy Queen’s representative in Ontario.

When he wasn’t attending functions — and there were many — as Ontario 24th lieutenant governor (1985-991) he could often be found wandering the halls of Queen’s Park chatting with cabinet minister and custodians, and everyone in between.

He was arguably one of Ontario’s most popular LGs, a big man with big personality that left many total strangers feeling he was one of them, especially when he said, “just call me Linc.”

Alexander was not shy about his youthful hell-raising, of drinking and marijuana use. “Unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale ... I spent a lot of time on the dark side, smoking, drinking and partying.”

Alexander was the first black Member of Parliament, the first black federal cabinet minister and Ontario first black lieutenant-governor. His friendships spanned all walks of life and partisan divides. He even had buildings, schools and a highway named after him.

The fact there is a Lincoln Alexander Parkway in Hamilton always tickled him, particularly because he never owned a driver’s licence.

Not long after his death was announced Friday morning by current Lieutenant Governor David Onley, the tributes started flowing in.

“I was deeply saddened this morning to hear of the passing of a truly great Canadian,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated.

“Lincoln Alexander … is not only recognized for his many political achievements but also for his dedication to his community and the sacrifices he made for our country as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War,” he 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.

Liberal Leader Bob Rae said Ontario and Canada lost a great public servant.

“Lincoln Alexander, or ‘Linc,’ as he was known to everyone, served his country in so many ways — his booming voice, passionate advocacy, great spirit, wonderful humour, and sense of fun and occasion, will be cherished and remembered by Canadians everywhere,” Rae said.

Born in Toronto in 1922 to West Indian immigrants, Alexander served as a wireless operator with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the World War II, from 1942 until 1945.

He settled in Hamilton to be near his future wife, Yvonne, and to attend McMaster University. After graduating in 1949, he applied for a sales job with Hamilton’s Stelco steel company. He was turned down by interviewers who said customers wouldn’t want to deal with a black man.

But Alexander became more determined in the face of adversity. He graduated from Toronto’s prestigious Osgoode Hall Law School in 1953 and ran as a Conservative in the federal riding of Hamilton West for the first time in 1965, but lost.

He was finally elected in 1968, becoming the first black member of Parliament in Canada. He was re-elected three times, in 1972, 1979 and 1980.

He was also Canada’s first black cabinet minister, serving the labour portfolio from 1979 to 1980 under the Progressive Conservative government of Joe Clark.

Alexander left the House of Commons in 1980 to serve as chairman of the Ontario Workman’s Compensation Board. In 1985, he was appointed Ontario’s 24th lieutenant governor and held the post until 1991, focusing on youth and education.

He transformed the usually hands-off, dignified role as the Queen’s representative. Alexander once estimated he had shaken more than 240,000 hands, visited 672 towns and cities and hosted 675 receptions for 76,000 guests.

In 1992, Alexander was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada and to the Order of Ontario.

Alexander confided to the Toronto Star before he turned 90 the last thing he expected was to get married again.

“Well, I don’t know how the hell it happened,” he told the Star’s Jim Coyle. “I guess she just fell for my baloney.”

“She” is Marni Beal, a “60ish” sales representative at the Hamilton Spectator, who seems precisely the sort of woman Alexander has been most taken by in his life — the striking and the strong.

“His smile absolutely lights up my world,” she told the Star.

Beal divorced 12 years ago after a 23-year marriage. Alexander’s wife Yvonne died in 1999 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. In an age of exploding rates of later-life divorce, everybody seems happy to hear their mature love story.

That Beal was nearly 30 years younger was more a sticking point for Alexander, he said, than the fact he’s black and she’s white.

“If you go to Toronto, the place is full of interracial couples. Race doesn’t mean a damn thing anymore.

“(But) an old codger like me marrying a girl 30 years his junior?! ... I was afraid to ask her.”

But he did finally.

In his memoir five years ago, Alexander said there’s nothing he’s cherished so much as the strong women in his life — namely, his mother, Mae Rose, and first wife Yvonne.

His late wife had a lot to do changing his hell-raising ways. “Honestly, if I hadn’t married Yvonne, I don’t know what I would have become.”

Well, he became a somebody,

“Lincoln was a towering man, and his stature matched his influence,” Premier Dalton McGuinty said in a statement.

Former prime minister Joe Clark said Alexander lifted the spirits and hopes of everyone who knew him.

“He became a powerful symbol of Canadian equality, as the first black Canadian elected to parliament and named to cabinet, and that took an enormous courage and toughness,” Clark said in a statement.

“Lincoln Alexander lived life as we should all aspire to live it, with daring, and optimism, and purpose, and impact.”

OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis noted that the OPP Headquarters was named after the former honorary OPP Commissioner in 1995.

“It serves as a reminder to all who pass through its doors of the physical, intellectual and ethical stature of this man,” Lewis said.

Hamilton Police Chief Glenn De Caire noted that Alexander — the honorary chief of police — was voted as the greatest Hamiltonian of all time in 2006.



http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/arti ... -forgotten
Dance as if no one's watching, sing as if no one's listening, and live everyday as if it were your last.

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.
User avatar
oneh2obabe
Moderator
 
Posts: 45292
Likes: 0 post
Liked in: 620 posts
Joined: Nov 23rd, 2007, 9:19 am

Return to Canada

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests