Businessman, Member of Parliament & Senator
Born in 1874, Alexander Duncan McRae’s life story emphasizes his abilities as a man of outstanding vision and integrity.
By 1910, at the age of 35 he had made millions of dollars selling surplus railway lands to new settlers flocking to the prairies from the United States. It was hailed in Parliament as one of the greatest, most successful migrations in Canadian history.
Knowing the settlers would need lumber for building new homes and towns, Alexander moved to B.C. and invested in a failing lumber mill on the Fraser River. He turned it into a highly successful operation by persuading the federal government to dredge the Fraser in order to accommodate larger ships for the export trade and by modernizing the mill. He called it Canadian Western Lumber Company.
By 1914 he was also president of Anacortes Lumber and Box Company, Vice-President of Columbia River Lumber Company Ltd. of Golden, Vice-President of Canadian Collieries, and President of Wallace Fisheries.
Alexander became a Brigadier General and the Canadian army’s quarter master, in charge of supplying Canadian troops in Europe in the First World War. During the war, he donated his home, Hycroft, to the federal government to be used as a hospital for veterans. This is still a Vancouver landmark and is now home to the University Women’s Club on McRae Avenue.
Following the war he established a new provincial political party but when he lost in the election, he quickly joined the federal Conservative Party, employing his skills to reorganize the party nation-wide. He was elected an MP in 1924.
Alexander believed that development was essential to bring more people and investment to the province. The legacy he leaves behind includes the cornerstone investments he made in many successful B.C. businesses, truly shaping our province.