ALEXANDER, JAMES LYNNE, teacher, writer of verse, and Church of England clergyman; b. Glenhead (Cairnalbana), County Antrim, Ireland, 23 Oct. 1801; d. Grimsby, Ont., 22 Aug. 1879.
James Lynne Alexander emigrated to Upper Canada with his parents when he was 16 years of age. He taught at the Markham school and the district grammar school at York (Toronto) before he became an assistant teacher in the district school at Niagara.
The history and scenery of the Niagara frontier provided the setting and descriptive passages for Alexander’s Wonders of the west, or a day at the falls of Niagara, in 1825, a poem, which was printed by Charles Fothergill* at York in 1825. This long poem, in a form imitative of Walter Scott’s metrical romances, tells a conventional bitter-sweet love story about French tourists. It is noteworthy only because it contains descriptions of local scenery and because it was one of the first books of verse printed in Upper Canada.
When Bishop Charles James Stewart* opened a seminary at Chambly, Lower Canada, in 1828, Alexander left Niagara, took up a scholarship, which had been awarded to him by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and enrolled for theological studies under Joseph Braithwaite. He was ordained deacon on 13 Sept. 1829 and became assistant at Cornwall to the Reverend Salter Jehoshaphat Mountain. In January 1831 the SPG appointed him a travelling missionary, and at about the time of his ordination as priest, on 7 Jan. 1832, he went to Leeds, Megantic County, Lower Canada, to open a mission. He served there until late in 1843.
In 1844 he began his work in the mission of Binbrook and Saltfleet, near Hamilton, Canada West, and on 15 August of that year he married Emelia, youngest daughter of Colonel Robert Nelles of Grimsby. Binbrook received most of his attention in the early years of his ministry in this parish, but later he served chiefly in Saltfleet and lived at Stoney Creek. His home was in Grimsby from the time of his retirement in August 1873 until his death in 1879.
[J. L. Alexander], Wonders of the west or a day at the falls of Niagara, in 1825, a poem, by a Canadian ([York, Upper Canada], 1825); Ontario’s oldest poem, a day at Niagara in the year 1825 by the Rev. James Lynne Alexander, Anglican vicar, ed. R. L. Denison (Toronto, 1952).
USPG, C/CAN/Que., f.368, f.399; Tor., f.559; E, Toronto, 1854–55. Upper Canada, House of Assembly, Journal, 1828, app., “Common school returns.” Examiner (Toronto), 4 Sept. 1844. Weekly Globe (Toronto), 29 Aug. 1879. Dom. ann. reg., 1879, 382. T. R. Millman, The life of the Right Reverend, the Honourable Charles James Stewart, D.D., Oxon., second Anglican bishop of Quebec (London, Ont., 1953), 90, 94, 143, 180, 187. Pascoe, Two hundred years of the S.P.G., 869, 873.