Born in 1838 on Queen Street in Montreal, the eldest surviving son of William and Helen Hutchison, Alexander Hutchison became the head of one of the most important and successful firms of architects of the City of Montreal.
His father was a builder and connected with the Public Works Department
of the City, and at the age of twelve Alexander began to learn the trade of stonecutter under his tutelage. He was deprived of the educational advantages thought to be essential for success in life, but he studied in the winter months and devoted all his spare time to self education.
He had inherited a talent for drawing and in order to increase his knowledge of the subject, he attended drawing classes held at the Mechanic Institute (now the Atwater Library). Perhaps because of this talent he was put in charge of the stonecutting for Christ Church Cathedral when he was scarcely out of his teens and after completion of that building, he became responsible for the stone work of the entire eastern block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.
Upon completion of this work, he returned to Montreal where he conducted drawing classes at the Institute, and it was while doing so that he began practice as an architect in 1863.
Among the buildings he designed alone or in partnership are Redpath Museum, Henry Birk's & sons' building, Lord Strathcona's residence and the Macdonald College buildings in Ste. Anne de Bellevue. Some of these were built by his brother, John Henry Hutchison. Beauty and utility were the two salient factors in most of his buildings, many of which still grace our city. These include Montreal High School, La Presse Building, the Erskine and American Church and Montreal City Hall
Alexander Hutchison was one of the founders and President of the Province of Quebec Association of Architects and he lectured for several years in the Presbyterian College on Ecclesiastic Architecture. He was an elder of the Presbyterian Church, first in Erskine Church (later the Erskine and American United Church) and then for more than twenty years at St. Andrew's Church in Westmount which he helped found. Selected by the Marquis of Lorne, he was one of the original members of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art and remained its-vice-president until 1907.
In 1862, Alexander Hutchison married Margaret Burnet of Cobourg, Ontario and they had two sons and one daughter. His daughter Helen married George W. Wood who became his father-in-law's partner in the firm of Hutchison & Wood. His sons were William, an architect, and Charles who was engaged in ornamental iron work.
He moved, in 1865, to the municipality of Côte St. Antoine where he served as a school trustee, councillor and Mayor. He was a volunteer fireman and took an active part in the volunteer militia: he retired from the Montreal Engineer's company with the rank of Lieutenant. With his brother, he took part in the Fenian Raids if 1866 and 1870 and was decorated for his service.
Alexander was also a fan of the "roaring game" and was a President of the Canadian Branch of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, the Montreal Caledonia Curling Club and the Heather Club of Westmount.
He lived in what is now Westmount until he died at his home at 450 Kensington at the age of 83. Known for this good works, his broad humanitarianism was manifest in his support of many movements to help the poor and needy. He was a life governor of the Montreal General Hospital, of the Protestant Hospital for the Insane, governor of the Western Hospital and President of the Protestant House of Industry and Refuge. Spartan in his habits, he never tasted alcohol nor tabacco and, according to all who knew him, he was a high-minded gentleman of the old school. According to the Ottawa Free Press, "His life was actuated by the highest principles of honour and no citizen of Montreal is more worthy of high regard."