'To me she was just mom': Trailblazing first female mayor of London, Ont. Jane Bigelow remembered

Londoners gathered Sunday morning for a memorial walk in memory of Jane Bigelow, the city's first female mayor.

"A lot of people know her as the former mayor, and this person who did all these things and I knew her as my mom," says David Bigelow, Jane's son.

Bigelow, London's Mayor from 1972-1978, passed away June 1, from complications following a fall and subsequent surgery.

With outdoor religious services not permitted until Phase One of Ontario's Roadmap to Reopening, family and friends were invited to walk along the pathway which was named after her in 2019.

"This pathway was something that my sister and I helped get started for her 90th birthday," says David, who flew in from B.C. and was seeing the trail for the first time.

"We really wish she had been able to come out and have a roll down it or a stroll down it, but that never happened. And so it means a lot for myself and my sister to be here."

Knowing their mother's love of ice cream, they arranged for a truck to be at the memorial.

"We were sitting with mom in palliative care and she was really enjoying ice cream," says Ann Bigelow, Jane's daughter.

"It's always kind of been a family joke about ice cream because when ever we served it to mom, she would always say 'it's been years since I had any ice cream' and then she would really enjoy it. We thought it was the perfect thing for us to do."

Among those walking the trail Sunday was Shauna Lewkowitz, the founder of the London initiative Women in Politics.

"I started Women in Politics with a group of women to encourage more women to get involved in politics to follow in the legacy of people like Jane Bigelow and others like Joni Baechler," says Lewkowitz, the federal NDP candidate for London West.

"They had a real influence in our community and showed the importance of women's leadership and the impact that we can have in this city. It's wonderful to be here today and to be able to honour her and acknowledge the long contributions that she's had to our community."

People walking along Jane Bigelow Pathway Sunday, June 6 during memorial walk. (Brent Lale/CTV London)

In lieu of flowers the family is accepting donations to London women's organizations: Anova: A Future Without Violence, My Sisters' Place, or Brescia University College.

"It's just been a lifelong commitment to women and definitely to other causes as well but women's causes were dearest to her heart," says Ann.

"She was an absolute trailblazer and I just loved Ed Holder's comment that she didn't just break through the glass ceiling she shattered it. I hope a lot of the women that we're supporting will find ways to shatter glass ceilings as on their own."