John Alexander Buchanan was born in Comber, Essex County, Ontario on March 4, 1887 and was the son of George Buchanan of Comber and Mary Bell (Wilson) Buchanan of nearby Ruscomb.
He came to Edmonton in 1910 after obtaining his education at Comber public and high schools and the University of Toronto.
Buchanan did considerable survey work in the Peace River country and Northwest Territories but turned more toward the industrial end of engineering in his later years. As a builder and surveyor, he spent many years practicing all that is implied in Edmonton’s role as gateway to the North.
He was a cost engineer on the Canol Pipeline Project during the Second World War and secured an intimate knowledge of the financial and technical problems associated with northern development.
He served as vice-president for the northern Alberta Progressive Conservative association and was a president of the Conservative organization in Edmonton. He was appointed to the Senate in 1959 by Prime Minister Diefenbaker and retired six years later.