Senator Al Graham

May 21, 1929April 22, 2015
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Bernard Alasdair (Al) Graham PC., LLD. (1929-2015) – It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Senator Al Graham, a proud Nova Scotian and Canadian.

Raised in the coal mining communities of Bridgeport, Dominion, and Glace Bay by his mother, Genevieve and Great Uncle, Fr. Charles W. MacDonald, Al possessed a down-to-earth Cape Breton sensibility, and had a gracious ability to connect with people from all walks of life. He saw beauty in everyone and treated all with dignity.

He was a teacher, broadcaster, corporate executive and Senator. His professional life was dedicated to community service, and to levelling the playing field; economically, socially, and politically. He worked hard to give others a chance in life and believed in the ability of the “little guy” to affect change.

His first love was his family. Al’s favourite moments were spent with his children and grandchildren – especially at the Mahoney’s Beach family cottage in Antigonish, where he was known to go shirtless from dusk ‘til dawn – regularly breaking the sound barrier with his distinctive laugh.

To those closest to him, he was Dad, Grampi, Rock, and Big Al. His love of life, belief in a world of endless possibilities, and his desire to give back remained an inspiration to his children and grandchildren until the end. In his last days, he managed to hold and love us as much as he ever had.

He was proud to have served his country in public office, and had many friends from coast to coast, particularly in Antigonish, Sydney, Halifax and Ottawa.

Al was appointed to the Senate in 1972 by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, was the President of the Liberal Party of Canada from 1975 to 1980, was Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate from 1995 to 1996, and served in Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s cabinet as Leader of the Government in the Senate from 1997 to 1999. He was a member of, or led, election observing missions on behalf of The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, in South and Central America, Africa, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. He recorded these observations in the book “Seeds of Freedom; Personal Reflections on the Dawning of Democracy”.

After retiring from the Senate, Al enjoyed one of his most meaningful lifetime responsibilities as the first National Patron and Ambassador for L’Arche Canada - an organization committed to inclusive communities for adults with special needs.

In 1993, he received an Honourary Degree from his beloved alma mater, St. Francis Xavier University.

Al is survived by his 10 children – Patricia, Alasdair (Margaret), Jack (Michelle Awad), David (Nancy Regan), Eileen Barrett (George), Bill (Leah), Danny (Lauren McCarville), Mary Hanington (Rob), Jeannie Wamboldt (Jeff) and Anne Marie (Paul Goyetche), 24 loving grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, and beloved family nanny, Marjorie Martindale. He was predeceased by his loving and devoted wife of 44 years - Jean (MacDonald), his parents - Dr Jack and Genevieve Graham, his two brothers - Charles and Fr. John, as well as his daughters-in-law - Norma Graham and Sheelagh Nolan. He will be deeply missed by his long-time companion, Elizabeth McIninch.

We cannot adequately express our gratitude for the love, tenderness and compassion shown by the staff at Parkland at the Gardens, who treated him like family, as he did them.

Visitation will be held on Saturday, April 25th from 2-4pm, and Sunday, April 26th from 2-4pm at J.A. Snow Funeral Home, 339 Lacewood Dr. in Halifax. Funeral mass will be held at St. Mary’s Basilica on Spring Garden Road in Halifax at 2pm, Monday, April 27th. Reception following the funeral mass at Parkland at the Gardens, The Great Hall, 5732 College Street, Halifax.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to L’Arche Canada (online:

Family burial at St Ninian’s Cemetary in Antigonish at a later date.


  • Visitation Saturday, April 25, 2015
  • Visitation Sunday, April 26, 2015
  • Memorial Service Monday, April 27, 2015

Senator Al Graham

have a memory or condolence to add?

kevin archibald

May 9, 2015

To the Graham Family

I was very sadden to learn of the passing of your father Al. I had the good fortune to meet him on a few occasions at Mahoney's Beach. Your neighbours the MacNeil family are the next house up the lane. I was also fortunate to meet him at a few Knights of Columbus conventions where he was guest speaker. He did NS proud

Kevin and Donna Archibald
Truro NS

McCallum Family

May 4, 2015

Danny and the Graham Family,
we were saddened to learn of your dear Father's passing. May your many treasured memories bring you comfort at this time of great loss. With Sincere Sympathy, Meg, Darrell, Emily, Cara & Neil McCallum

April 30, 2015

April 30th

I'd like to express my sincere condolences to the Graham family. I have many found memories of meeting Al during his visits to Youghall Beach and Gowan Brae Golf Club in Bathurst,N.B. where he enjoyed spending time with family and friends.

Claude Willett

Sean Michael Kennedy

April 30, 2015

In all her years on the Hill our Mother, Mary, regarded the Senator as the best representative she worked for, and the most kind and decent man she ever knew. "Uncle Al" made a lot of time for my sister Sioban and me when we frequently visited his office, often taking us to the Parliamentary restaurant for a milkshake and fries, and he was very encouraging of the career goals we were thinking about. Senator Graham was the epitome of public service in our minds, and we were blessed to have known him. We send our condolences to his entire family.

April 30, 2015

Sincerest condolences to the Graham family.
Four Bras d'Or Cape Breton Andrea Brothers (Len, Bernie, Jake and myself (Tony) have over the years treasured a comment made by then St F X hockey broadcaster "Al" Graham.
We all played for the "X" Team in 1957/58. Naturally there were occasions when the four of us were on the ice at the same time.
This apparently prompted Al to declare, "This is a broadcaster's nightmare !"
In memory of that comment we each received from "X" a framed picture of us posing together. Across the top of the frame are the guessed it...Broadcaster's Nightmare."
So "Al" on behalf of us four brothers thank you for all those exciting broadcasts of the "X" games and much more.
Tony Andrea, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

April 30, 2015

I was saddened to hear of Al's death today. He has been a good friend for more than 40 years. Al made friends everywhere he travelled and he will be truly missed by many people.

My sincere condolences to his family.

Norman W. MacLeod,
Ashburn, Ontario.

Bernice Grant

April 29, 2015

Hi to all my Graham kids.How many hours did I spend across he street with this wonderful family beginning with Patricia and ending with Jean Marie! I loved all of you so much along with your dear Mom. I am very sorry I was not able to be with you on this sad occasion, but I will say a little prayer for you as you come to grips with your tremendous loss.
Much love, Bernice (Murphy) Grant

Susan (MacIsaac) Sharkey

April 29, 2015

Sincere condolences to a very special family from childhood. Thinking of each and every one of you at this time. The Graham family home was such a welcoming place for so many of the Graham children's friends. Forever grateful for those times. Hugs to all.

April 27, 2015

To the Graham family:
We were so sorry to hear of Senator Graham's passing. He truly was a remarkable man who had an exemplary career. Our dear parents, Judge Hugh J. and Jean MacPherson of St. Andrews, NS thought so much of Senator Al. Our Dad loved to tell the story about the incredible speech that Al made at the Maple Hall in Heatherton at the beginning of his political career. Senator Graham certainly went on to do great things, yet he never lost touch with his roots. Please accept our sincere sympathy.
Ellen (MacPherson)MacIntyre
Toronto, On
Garry (MacPherson)Fidler
St. Andrews, NS

Catherine (Tat) Sears

April 27, 2015

Dear Dave and family,

I was saddened to learn of your dad's passing. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers as the days pass-- so very, very sorry for your loss!