John F. A. Strong via Wikicommons

John F. A. Strong: Alaska’s Canadian Governor

You thought our current politics is weird—did you know we had a governor who served for five years and wasn’t a U.S. citizen?

John Franklin Alexander Strong was born in Salmon Creek, New Brunswick, Canada in 1856.  He joined the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897, and worked in newspapers in Skagway, Dawson City, and Nome, then became editor of the Juneau Empire newspaper. His editorials were direct and strongly opinionated, calling for a public school, water supply, and other improvements. President Woodrow Wilson nominated Strong to be the territory’s second governor in 1913, fulfilling a promise to nominate area residents to become governor. (I guess no one asked if Strong was a citizen, and he didn’t think it was important enough to mention?) 

Strong signed several significant bills into law, including granting U. S. citizenship to some indigenous people, authorization of our university, and alcohol prohibition. He presided over Alaska for one term. President Wilson (finally?) received information that Strong was still a Canadian citizen and declined to re-appoint him to a second term.

Later in life, Strong lived in Seattle and Los Angeles. He died in Seattle in 1929 after a heart attack.

Photo credit: Wikicommons

For more details about this remarkable man, see Lee Jordan’s article in the Echo at

I love to share my passion for Alaska and its history in my writing for young adults and their grown ups.

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