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Sunday, September 14, 2014

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Alexander was 1986 Negev Dinner honoree

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Ontario Lt.-Gov. Lincoln Alexander opens the Multicultural History Centre in 1989. [Jeff Rosen photo]

HAMILTON — Former lieutent governor of Ontario Lincoln Alexander, who died Oct. 19 at age 90, was a good friend of the Hamilton Jewish community, which named him its JNF Negev Dinner honoree in 1986.

In an interview with The CJN at his home in east Hamilton at the time, he recalled growing up as “a little black boy,” determined not to be a railway porter like his father and encouraged by his mother to work hard. He attended McMaster University and later Osgoode Hall Law School, after service in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II.

Following several years with a local law firm, he entered politics in 1968 and was elected four times for the Progressive Conservative party in Hamilton West, where most of Hamilton’s Jews were living at the time.

The first black MP, he served as minister of labour under Joe Clark. In 1980, following his retirement from politics, he was appointed chairman of the Workers Compensation Board of Ontario.

Modest and unassuming. the man who was affectionately known to everyone in Hamilton as “Linc,” had a great sense of humour.

From now on, he told me shortly after his appointment as lieutenant governor of Ontario “you can no longer call me ‘Linc,’ Now you have to address me as ‘Your Honour.’”

It didn’t help. To his last day, he remained “Linc” to everyone in his adopted city.

Although born in Toronto, Alexander had lived in Hamilton ever since meeting his first wife, Yvonne, here. She died in 1999.

He is survived by his only son, Keith, and two granddaughters, as well as his second wife, Marni, whom he married in 2011.

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