Plot X, Lot 12
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto
Born in Lesmahagow, Scotland in 1830, Muir was just a baby when the family emigrated to Canada and settled in the wilds of what is now Scarborough. Years later he attended Queen’s University and at the age of twenty obtained a teaching assignment in an old schoolhouse out near the tiny community of Agincourt at the north end of the Scarborough Township. Ten years later, Muir was teaching in Leslieville on the eastern outskirts of Toronto.
One day in the fall of 1867, he noticed a newspaper advertisement placed by the Caledonian Society of Montreal offering three prizes for the best Canadian patriotic song to be sung Halloween rally. The story goes that soon after, he was walking along Laing Avenue when a maple leaf fell from a tree and clung to his overcoat. Five hours later, Muir had written “The Maple Leaf Forever.” The song won the second prize of $50 for the young teacher and soon became Canada’s unofficial national anthem. Soon afterwards, it was suggested to Muir that his song should be published. Taking his copy of the music to The Guardian newspaper office, he had 1000 copies run off. He sold $4 worth and then got a bill from the printer for $30. Thus, the first printing of “The Maple Leaf Forever” cost Alexander Muir $26. Sadly, this rousing song is now seldom heard.
Muir went on to become principal of Gladstone Public School which was renamed Alexander Muir Public School soon after the composer’s death which occurred on June 26, 1906 at his residence, 60 Churchill Avenue. The granite memorial, which was designed by Toronto sculptor Arthur James Clarke, was presented by the Grand Orange Lodge of British America to which Muir belonged for many years. During the unveiling one hundred students of Alexander Muir Public School sang “O Canada” after which they decorated the monument - something, it was believed, school children would do each and every year.
Mount Pleasant Cemetery: An Illustrated Guide
Second Edition Revised and Expanded