Bigelow, Jane Elizabeth (née Dillon)

Bigelow, Jane Elizabeth (née Dillon)

June 1st, 2021

Peacefully passed away on Tuesday, June 1st, 2021, of complications following a fall and subsequent surgery. Daughter of the late Edward and Margaret Dillon. She is survived by daughter, Ann and partner, Joanne Girvan, of London; son, David, of Nanaimo; brother, David Dillon, of Milton; and two grandsons, Ian and Ryan Siess. Jane was born in Toronto in 1928, the year before women were legally recognized as persons in Canada. She attended St. Clement’s School and the University of Toronto, earning a bachelor’s degree in Physical and Health Education. Jane hoped to open her own camp after graduation but instead taught high school for several years before developing an interest in politics. She served as Vice President of the Ontario Provincial NDP and became committed to feminist and environmental issues. In the late 1960s, she was elected to London’s Board of Control and became London’s first female Mayor in 1972 when the elected Mayor stepped down due to health reasons. She served as Mayor until 1978 and one more term on the Board of Control in the early 1980s. She believed that cities were most of all places where people lived, and was an active supporter of parks, libraries, museums, art galleries and festivals. She often traveled by bike, sometimes with the family poodle Figgy in the carrier, and helped establish walking and cycling trails throughout the city. Jane had a lifelong commitment to improving the lives of women, and long after she left public office she continued to serve as a front-line volunteer for organizations such as Women’s Community House (Anova: A Future Without Violence), The Sexual Assault Centre, and My Sisters' Place. Jane received numerous accolades and awards including being recognized as a Woman of Excellence by the YMCA-YWCA and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Western Ontario. In honour of her ninetieth birthday, the City of London named a section of its trail system - The Jane Bigelow Pathway. Jane loved the outdoors, especially Northern Ontario. She was an avid reader and supporter of public libraries, and every day began with a cup of coffee and The Globe and Mail. Jane’s children invite you to join them for a memorial walk in honour of Jane this upcoming weekend. The family will begin their journey mid-morning along the Jane Bigelow Pathway between Adelaide Street North and Wellington Road (link posted below) on Sunday, June 6th, 2021. You are also invited to join us for visitation at Westview Funeral Chapel, 709 Wonderland Road North, London on Friday, June 4th between 2:00-4:00 p.m. and 6:00-8:00 p.m. and Saturday, June 5th between 2:00-4:00 p.m. and 6:00-8:00 p.m. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, visits will be staggered. Registration will be required to attend the visitation.

To register for Jane’s visitation, please click here: Registration page for Jane’s visitation on Friday, June 4th and Saturday, June 5th between 2:00-4:00 p.m. and 6:00-8:00 p.m.

To view the location of where the memorial walk will take place, please click here: The Jane Bigelow Pathway location on Google Maps

In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make a donation in memory of Jane are asked to consider Anova: A Future Without Violence, My Sisters' Place, or Brescia University College (which will be directed to a bursary for students who were or are youth in extended care society).

If you would like to send a private message to the family please send it to anniekbigelow@gmail.com and uncle_rhino@yahoo.com.

Please note: as per the directive of the Bereavement Authority of Ontario, attendance numbers will be restricted. Please be aware that COVID-19 protocols are in place which may preclude some from being able to attend and masks are mandatory.

Charitable donations may be made to:

Please click here to send a donation notification to the family     

Book of Condolences

Mo & Jean AnnTo Ann & Jo Ann & to your family, as a great neighbor that you are, we both send you our condolence's, we did not have the great fortune to meet your MOM but would like to catch up on stories from the past. Love Jean Ann & Mo
Donnafaye MiltonDear Annie, Joanne and David, Jane would sometimes phone to invite me for lunch or dinner when she had a new recipe to try out on Stephanie and me. I'd always say: I'll be your guinea pig, anytime! As a faithful YMCA attendee, Jane told me that the way to keep motivated to work out every day was 'not to think about it', just go! She inspired me in many ways and made me laugh. I loved her, Donnafaye
Paddy (Patricia) MussonJane Thanks for all the lessons learned, large and small, through your actions and explanations as mayor, as New Democrat, and as a friend, We are better for having known you Paddy Musson and Bernie Koenig
Rebecca ParkesDear Ann, JoAnne, Ian and Ryan, and David, Please know we hold you in our hearts and thoughts, as you navigate the loss of your mother and grandmother....such a remarkable woman who was clearly ahead of her time......always a challenging path to forge! We will always have a warm personal memory connected to Jane. It's when you helped us rescue an abandoned kitten one Canada Day many years ago. When we talked about names, my boys decided since it was July 1st, she should be named after a famous Canadian woman......Ian and Ryan's grandma! Bigelow became a cherished part of our family. I remember seeing your mom at your house one day and recounted the story unsure if she might be offended having a cat named after her. She replied "That's probably one of the better tributes to me!" Sending you lots of love and hugs, Rebecca, Gary, Alex and Spencer xo
Judith DillonAnnie , David and family. It was with great sadness to hear of the passing of your Mother. I have the fondest memories of our years of get togethers, Christmas and special occasions. Memories are our greatest gift, and I will also cherish them. Love and prayers to all Judy
Florence Gross-ReichI have the fondest memories of my friend and former University of Toronto classmate, Jane Dillion Bigelow. I lived on Bathurst and College and our family backgrounds were very different, but you would never know it. We walked from faculty to faculty together taking academic courses and would run to our physical education classes in an ancient building on Yonge Street across from Eaton's. We would change into our gym uniform as we ran so as not to be late. In our first year in physed, we endured initiation together masterminded by the male students - we had to wash our undergarments in the horse troughs on Bloor Street. We had had to bring to our own soap suds! As someone who loved cycling as much as Jane, we would ride our bikes to and from Centre Island, where Jane's family had a summer cottage. Jane was beautiful in every way. Having a quiet personality, her fellow students would never have guessed she would go on to a life of politics, which would bring her great admiration, respect and success. My heartfelt condolences to her family at this sad time. Her memory will stay in heart and thoughts forever.
Mimi LoMy heartfelt condolences to Jane's family. I am so grateful to have had Jane as a colleague and a friend. She was a great inspiration and a mentor. Jane will be greatly missed.
Ben VanderlugtShe was mayor when she visited our store on Dundas St in the 1970's. She paid with a check, and she did not flaunt her position, but humbly pulled out her driver's license. Humble, and no pretentions. What a lovely lady !
Pat WeilerBack in the 70’s my husband, John, was the community development worker at the Crouch Community Centre. I remember when the neighbourhood was faced with a crisis because their only grocery store was closing. Seniors in the area who didn’t have cars walked there several times a week to shop. The closure of the Dominion was going to pose a huge problem for many in the neighbourhood. John told me that Jane called him to offer her help. Without being approached, she was right out of the gate offering to help. Jane was a great mayor. Thank you for sharing your mother with London. My condolences to you and all her family and friends at this sad time.
Sam SussmanWe spent 42 years in London and remember Jane Bigelow's excellent stewardship. Rest In Peace Jane. Condolences to Family. May you be spared further grief and rest assured she leaves a living legacy in her works, family and friends. Sam and Mina Sussman Vancouver
Sam SussmanWe spent 42 years in London and remember Jane Bigelow's excellent stewardship. Rest In Peace Jane. Condolences to Family. May you be spared further grief and rest assured she leaves a living legacy in her works, family and friends. Sam and Mina Sussman Vancouver
Sam SussmanWe spent 42 years in London and remember Jane Bigelow's excellent stewardship. Rest In Peace Jane. Condolences to Family. May you be spared further grief and rest assured she leaves a living legacy in her works, family and friends. Sam and Mina Sussman Vancouver
Roberta FerrenceJane Bigelow was an outstanding role model for many of us young feminists in London in the 1970s. We were involved in the London Women's Resource Centre and Womanpower, and she inspired us all. Jane was a model for how to get things done in the community and how help women in particular. She was down to earth, unpretentious and very effective. I left London in 1979. but she has stayed in my mind all these years. I am sorry to hear of her passing and extend my sympathies to her family and friends.
Mario Faver, London PsycholgistiAnn, as mentioned to you at the memorial walk, it’s not easy for a daughter to lose a mom so our thoughts are with you and David at this time. Among her many talents, your mom was a visionary. Back in the late 70’s she invited me and three others to her home on Dufferin Ave to brainstorm what could be done to enhance the beauty of London. At that time no interest was shown in our location on the Thames River. Our small group recognized this and immediately concluded that it would be beneficial to start working towards enhancing the area around the forks of the Thames. Just another example of the quiet process that your mom used that has led to her legacy as being one of London’s most effective and succesful Mayors.
Add Your Condolences
Archives