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Photo by NAC Member Sandy Fairbairn

Donald J. Alexander

November 26, 1934- October 22, 2023

Donald J Alexander died at St. Catharines General Hospital on October 22, 2023. Don was born in St Catharines on November 26,1934.

Important people in his life included his friend and trusty companion Rose Marie Cipryk of St. Catharines, her daughter, Anya, son, Gabriel (Christy) grandchildren, Imogen and Nico; his son Ian H. Alexander, and daughter Cassandra J LeMay, sister Jo-Anne Graham in Strathroy with daughter, Jillian and her daughter, Myla; near-family members, Jodielynn Harrison, claimed granddaughter Kylar John-Harrison, June Etta Chenard and canine companion Rosie. A son Robert J Alexander died in 1996.

Don studied radio and TV arts at Ryerson in Toronto. He worked in radio at Owen Sound in the early 1950s before working in Peterborough Television from 1955 to 1963, where he served as news director and programme manager.

In the 1960s he was a public relations representative for the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority – Welland Canal. In the 1970s he was elected from St Catharines for two terms to the recently-formed Niagara Regional Government. In the 1980s and 90s he co-owned a video news and documentary company. Credits include creation of documentaries about Jane Jacobs, the Nihilist Spasm Band, Farm Women and a series of community development videos for the Trillium Foundation.

He served as a Commissioner on the Niagara Escarpment Commission from 2004 to 2017.

Don was a long-time attender with Niagara Quakers and from 2007 to 2014 he was the Treasurer of Canadian Friends Service Committee, the Quaker peace and social action organization in Canada.

Don was a founding member of the Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society (Niagara) and a long-time member of the Niagara Artists Centre.

A celebration of Don’s life will be held from 2 to 5 pm on November 26, his 89th birthday, at the Niagara Artists Centre (354 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines).

The family suggests that donations be made to either the Niagara Artists Centre (NAC) in St. Catharines or the Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society (PALS).

Above are the facts of Don’s life, presented simply as he requested. They are not, however, his story. That cannot stand because Don was a masterful storyteller.

Don was stoic in grief and loss, but he cared very much out loud for the people, places and ideas that mattered to him. He was a devoted companion, relation and friend, and most he knew never had a moment’s doubt of that. He would show up for the unglamorous hard work, whatever it was.

Nobody who had ever heard him answer the telephone – announcing in that inimitable voice, “Hello, Don Alexander speaking” – would ever call Don quiet but he advocated calmly and consistently for causes and policies he believed in. His life was stuffed full of art, travel, work and service– all chosen according to his own perspective on what was good and interesting and important.

Don will long be remembered and greatly missed.

Watch Don’s interview for CHEX 50th anniversary.