Trailblazing former MP Lincoln Alexander remembered at Ontario state funeral
Published Friday, October 26, 2012 7:58AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 26, 2012 7:47PM EDT
Thousands of people gathered in Hamilton to say goodbye to former Ontario lieutenant-governor Lincoln Alexander during a rare provincial state funeral Friday.
Many saluted and wiped away tears as his hearse and entourage made their way from city hall to the Hamilton Place arena. The procession was followed by a two-hour service that highlighted Alexander’s many accomplishments as Canada’s first black Member of Parliament.
"He was unstoppable, undeniable," his granddaughter Erika Alexander said in a tearful eulogy. While friends called him Linc, Erika said she called her grandfather “Bubba.” She said she always admired his strength and determination, even as he encountered barriers throughout his life and career.
Alexander’s wife Marni, son Keith Alexander and other granddaughter Marissa were also in attendance. Gov. Gen. David Johnston, former governor general Michaelle Jean, MP Julian Fantino, and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty were among the dignitaries in the crowd.
Alexander died on October 19 at age 90. His casket lay in state at the legislature this week before it was moved to Hamilton.
Born in Toronto in 1922 to West Indian immigrants, he became the first black MP in 1968, and was re-elected in 1972, 1979 and 1980.
He was also Canada's first black cabinet minister, holding the labour portfolio from 1979 to 1980 in the Joe Clark government.
Alexander served as lieutenant governor from 1985 to 1991 -- the province's first black vice-regal.
Friday’s service included readings from ex-Ontario premier David Peterson, Toronto Argonauts vice-chair Michael “Pinball” Clemons, and others.
"He didn't just look the part. He was a leader personified. He was a leader of leaders," Clemons said. "A trailblazer of the highest order."
Nearly 1,000 seats were available for the public to watch a broadcast of the service in Commonwealth Square, across from City Hall.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Paul Bliss and files from The Canadian Press