II-79945.1 | Charles Alexander, Montreal, QC, 1886

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Charles Alexander, Montreal, QC, 1886
Wm. Notman & Son
1886, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
14 x 10.2 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  male (26812) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History


A number of citizens made philanthropy their life's work, investing both their money and their time in social causes. A leading example of this commitment in Montreal was Charles Alexander (1816-1905). Alexander gave his time and management skills to a wide variety of charities, and was deeply involved in the prison reform movement. His was the face people saw when they applied for outdoor relief at the Protestant House of Industry and Refuge, where he was chair of the poor relief committee and also served as president. The project closest to his heart was the Boys' Home, an institution he built at his own expense and ran for thirty-five years, but he also held executive positions at the Mackay Institute (for deaf children), the Fresh Air Fund, the Society for the Protection of Women and Children, the SPCA, the Montreal Sailor's Institute, the Montreal General Hospital, the Protestant Insane Asylum, the Sheltering Home, the Montreal Art Association and the Montreal Temperance Society.

  • What

    Involved with most of the city's charities, Charles Alexander was the man Protestant Montrealers associated with philanthropy. When he died in 1905 newspapers reported his funeral procession as one of the largest the city had ever seen.

  • Where

    Alexander spent his adult life in Montreal. His residence was on Mackay Street.

  • When

    Charles Alexander was born in England in 1816 and emigrated to Canada in 1840. This portrait was taken in 1886 when he was seventy years old.

  • Who

    A confectioner by trade, Charles Alexander also served as a city councillor/alderman and as a member of the National Assembly, and was one of Montreal's best known philanthropists.