Alexander Muir

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Alexander Muir
Alexander Muir.jpg
Born(1830-04-05)5 April 1830
Lesmahagow, Scotland
Died26 June 1906(1906-06-26) (aged 76)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Alma materQueen's College
Occupationsongwriter, poet, school headmaster
Military career
Service/branchCanadian Militia
Years of service1861–1867
UnitThe Queen's Own Rifles of Canada
Battles/warsFenian raids

Alexander Muir (5 April 1830 – 26 June 1906) was a Canadian songwriter, poet, soldier, and school headmaster.[1] He was the composer of The Maple Leaf Forever, which he wrote in October 1867 to celebrate the Confederation of Canada.[2]

Early life[edit]

In 1833 Muir immigrated to Toronto, Ontario, from Lesmahagow, Scotland, where he grew up and he was educated by his father. Muir later studied at Queen's College, where he graduated in 1851.[3]


Alexander Muir at about 25 years of age, wearing his Scottish tartan

Muir taught in the Greater Toronto Area in such places as Scarborough and Toronto, as well as in Newmarket, Beaverton, and in then suburban areas as Parkdale and Leslieville, where he lived on Laing Avenue.

During the early 1870s, Alexander Muir was an elementary school teacher in Newmarket. When the cornerstone of the Christian Church in Newmarket was being laid on June 25, 1874, by the Governor General, Lord Dufferin, Muir brought his school choir to the event to sing his new composition The Maple Leaf Forever, its first public performance.

From 1860 to 1870, he was principal of Leslieville School in Toronto. He was later (1888-1901) principal of Toronto's Alexander Muir/Gladstone Junior and Senior Public School (renamed after his death in his honour).

Muir was a noted Canadian Orangeman.[4] He joined The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada in 1860 and served as Lieutenant in No. 10 (Highland) Company, fighting with them at the Battle of Ridgeway being wounded in the arm. He was later awarded the Canada General Service Medal. He also wrote The Maple Leaf Forever while he was serving with the regiment.

No.10 Company, Queens Own Rifles, after the Battle of Ridgeway 1866


Gladstone School and students. Alexander Muir (principal) seated at right. 1902.

Although Muir's musical activities were on an amateur level, they were strongly emphasized along with athletics and patriotism during his teaching career. Muir wrote several songs about Canada during his career, including Canada Forever and Young Canada Was Here, but his most enduring composition was The Maple Leaf Forever written in 1867, the year of Confederation. Muir originally wrote the poem for a patriotic poetry contest in Montreal, winning second prize. He then looked for an existing melody that would fit, a very common practice (it was not unusual for a poem printed in a journal to bear the statement "May be sung to the tune of..."). When he failed to find a suitable tune, Muir wrote the music himself.[5]


Flowerbeds in bloom in the Alexander Muir Memorial Gardens


  1. ^ Alexander Muir The Canadian Encyclopedia
  2. ^ [https: kids die here do not bring them here (De)Constructing Nationalist Music History"] "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2006-11-10.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Institute for Canadian Music newsletter, pages 10-12, Vol. 1, No. 1, January 2003
  3. ^ Biography Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
  4. ^ J. Paul Green (1994). "Muir, Alexander". Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003. Retrieved 2016-08-28.
  5. ^ McGee, Timothy J. (1985). The Music of Canada. New York, NY: W.W. Norton. pp. 65. ISBN 0-393-02279-X.
  6. ^ "Toronto District School Board: Alexander Muir/Gladstone Ave Junior and Senior Public School". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  7. ^ "Toronto District School Board: Alexmuir Junior Public School". Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  8. ^ "York Region District School Board: Alexander Muir P.S". Archived from the original on 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  9. ^ "Algoma District School Board: Alex Muir Public School" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-10-03. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  10. ^ "Algoma District School Board: Urban Aboriginal Alternative High School". Archived from the original on 2014-02-23. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  11. ^ "Mount Muir". Retrieved 2009-02-24.
  • Muir, Alexander (1990), From Aberdeen to Ottawa in 1845: The diary of Alexander Muir, Aberdeen, Scotland: Aberdeen University Press, ISBN 978-0080379838

External links[edit]