Muir, Alexander

Alexander Muir (Apr 5, 1830-Jan 26, 1906) was a song writer, school principal and poet born in Lesmahagow, near Lanark, Scotland. His parents settled, when he was three, in Scarborough Township, east of Toronto. He received his BA (Queen’s) 1851 and taught from 1853-60 in several Scarborough schools. He was principal 1860-70 at Leslieville School and in the ensuing years was teacher or principal of schools in Newmarket, Beaverton, and Toronto, including 1888-1906 Gladstone Avenue School, which in 1925 was renamed in his honour.

Although Muir’s musical activities were on an amateur level, they were strongly emphasized along with athletics and patriotism during his teaching career. He wrote words and music for several patriotic songs including the famous ‘The Maple Leaf For Ever’ (1867). Others are ‘Canada, Land of the Maple Tree’ and ‘The Old Union Jack’ (both published by Suckling 1890), ‘Canada Forever’ (Whaley Royce 1894), and ‘Young Canada Was Here’ (Whaley Royce 1900). Some of his poetry was published in Newmarket and Toronto newspapers.

A park, built in his honour in Toronto in 1933, was re-dedicated to Muir in 1952 when its location was changed.

He enlisted with The Queen’s Own Rifles shortly after it was formed in 1860, and fought with them at the Battle of Ridgeway.

Muir was an Ensign in Number 10 (Highland) Company during the Battle of Ridgeway on June 2nd 1866. Despite being in rear company in the order of march, it was Ensign Muir who initially spotted the Fenian Pickets waiting in ambush for the Canadians that day.

He reported:

“After proceeding about two and a half miles I perceived a number of horses (between twelve and fifteen in number) loose in an open field near the corner of a bush about three quarters of a mile in front of the left side of the road. These having attracted my attention I also perceived a number of men flitting among the trees near the horses. I cried out, “I see three Fenians, there are the Fenians.” My discovery was made known to Colonel Booker who perhaps from hearing the cry came upon me. I was to the left hand from many of the Highland company, the rear company of the battalion.”

According to the Library and Archives database of applications for the General Service Medal, Muir was wounded and sent home the day after the battle.

He wrote The Maple Leaf Forever while serving with the regiment. The stirring march is often played by the Regimental Band and Bugles of The Queen’s Own Rifles.

In days of yore, from Britain’s shore,
Wolfe, the dauntless hero, came

And planted firm Britannia’s flag
On Canada’s fair domain.
Here may it wave, our boast our pride
And, joined in love together,
The thistle, shamrock, rose entwine
The Maple Leaf forever!

The Maple Leaf, our emblem dear,
The Maple Leaf forever!
God save our Queen and Heaven bless
The Maple Leaf forever!

At Queenston Heights and Lundy’s Lane,
Our brave fathers, side by side,
For freedom, homes and loved ones dear,
Firmly stood and nobly died;
And those dear rights which they maintained,
We swear to yield them never!
Our watchword evermore shall be
“The Maple Leaf forever!”


Our fair Dominion now extends
From Cape Race to Nootka Sound;
May peace forever be our lot,
And plenteous store abound:
And may those ties of love be ours
Which discord cannot sever,
And flourish green o’er freedom’s home
The Maple Leaf forever!


On merry England’s far famed land
May kind heaven sweetly smile,
God bless old Scotland evermore
and Ireland’s Em’rald Isle!
And swell the song both loud and long
Till rocks and forest quiver!
God save our Queen and Heaven bless
The Maple Leaf forever!


You can also see more information on the Toronto Public Library site.

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