The body of Lincoln Alexander is being brought back to Hamilton, so that the members of his hometown will be able to say goodbye to him.
Alexander, the country’s first black member of the House of Commons and the former lieutenant-governor of Ontario, died in Hamilton last Friday at the age of 90.
He will lie in repose in Hamilton’s city hall from Tuesday, Oct. 23 until Thursday, Oct. 25.
Alexander’s body had been brought to Queen’s Park on Sunday, so that members of the public could pay their respects. On the final day that he was lying in state in Toronto, a steady stream of people came to do just that.
"I've known of Linc for so many years. He has done so many things. A wonderful man who has done a stellar job and a major major influence in our community," said Geanine Sibblies.
Sandy Yip said he had the "privilege and honour" of working with Alexander at the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.
"He was a magnificent leader and a true inspiration for a lot of Canadians and a lot of minorities too. He really fought the good fight," said Yip.
Alexander is survived by his son, Keith, daughter-in-law Joyce, granddaughters, Erika and Marissa, and his second wife, Marni.
"We have been very blessed to have had this prince of a man among us. They are becoming fewer and too far between," Marni Alexander said in an email.
'Role model' for former PC leader
Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory said he remembers Alexander as a "humble, civilized, funny, warm man, who was in great positions of power but never took himself too seriously and always was a role model."
"He was a role model for me in that he showed me, in politics in particular, you don't have to be in this character assassination mode that we seem to be in today," said Tory.
"He was always decent. He was always willing to sit down and talk to other people who had a different point of view than his own. And I think if we had a lot more Linc Alexander in the people who are in public life today, we'd be a lot better off."
Former Ontario premier Mike Harris said that Alexander was "a friend, a mentor, somebody who taught us a lot."
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also shared her fond memories of Alexander, recalling the time in 2004 when she went door-to-door campaigning in their home town of Hamilton and unknowingly ended up at Alexander's doorstep.
"He said, 'Well I hear you're going to win this, girl, you just keep going. You work hard and you're going to win.' It was a memory that stays with me," she recalled.
She added that Alexander would often give her words of encouragement when they crossed paths, despite their political differences.
First elected in 1968
Born in Toronto in 1922 to West Indian immigrants, Alexander was a wireless operator with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War.
Alexander was first elected to the House of Commons in 1968, as the Progressive Conservative member for Hamilton West.
He served as an MP for more than a decade before leaving federal politics to become the chairman of the Ontario Workmen’s Compensation Board, which is now known as the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
In his later years, he served as the chancellor of the University of Guelph for five terms.
Alastair Summerlee, the president of the University of Guelph, knew Alexander for more than 20 years.
"I've described him as a man who was just larger than life," he said.
"He was a big man in height, he had enormous feet and he had an incredibly large heart and he warmed to everybody that he met."
Summerlee said that Alexander had faced many hardships in his early life, but overcame those obstacles and ultimately became a very successful and inspiring public figure.
"He began in circumstances that were definitely very impoverished, had quite a hard life as he grew up and turned that into this outstandingly successful career," said Summerlee.