Alexandria | The Canadian Encyclopedia



Alexandria, ON, population centre, population 2,906 (2021 census), 2,845 (2016 census). Incorporated as a town in 1903, Alexandria lost this status in 1998 as the result of municipal restructuring in Ontario. It is now part of the new township of North Glengarry (population 10,109). Alexandria is located midway on the Canadian National Railway line between Montreal and Ottawa.


Father Alexander Macdonell, later bishop of Upper Canada, began Alexandria (first known as Priest's Mills) as a mill site a few years after the War of 1812. In 1890, it became the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Alexandria (later relocated to Cornwall). Around that time it showed much promise in carriage manufacturing.

After economic setbacks in the Great Depression and earlier, since the Second World War has regained a considerable degree of prosperity with a concentration on textiles, footwear, milk processing and trucking. It continues its early role as a merchandising and service centre for the surrounding farm community. About half of Alexandria’s residents have French as their mother tongue, according to the 2016 census, but both English and French are spoken. St. Finnan's Cathedral, the Bishop's Palace and the Monastery of the Precious Blood are of architectural interest.

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