First female mayor of London, Ont. Jane Bigelow has died

Former London, Ont. mayor Jane Bigelow is seen in this undated image.

Condolences began pouring in Tuesday night as word spread that former mayor Jane Bigelow has died. She was 93.

A trailblazing politician, holding the position from 1972 to 1978, Bigelow was the first woman to serve as London’s mayor. She then served on the Board of Control until the early 1980s.

In a tweet, current London Mayor Ed Holder said, "What a loss, and, yet, what an inspiration she was, and will forever remain. Jane’s legacy lives on - from paving the way for greater diversity in local politics to her passion for the environment. We mourn her loss, and thank her family for sharing her brilliance with Londoners."

London’s third female mayor, Anne Marie Decicco-Best, is also paying tribute to its first, saying Bigelow pushed to change the fabric of the Forest City.

“Being a woman and being the first female mayor of London is very significant, but it wasn’t about that for her. She cared about the environment, she cared about the people, she cared about the social fabric of the community.”

Bigelow entered municipal politics in a time men fully dominated City Hall.

But while most are reflecting on Bigelow’s distinction as the city’s first female mayor, Decicco-Best says Bigelow should be honoured for much more.

An avid cyclist, she was a strong advocate for the environment and pushed to promote bicycle trails.

She also was among a group of politicians who killed London’s planned freeway early in her first term.

In a 2019 interview with CTV News London, Bigelow conceded, in hindsight, the freeway “might not have been quite as disastrous” as she thought at the time.

Bigelow also made waves in 1973, breaking protocol by not wearing a hat while meeting with Queen Elizabeth in Victoria Park.