Hundreds pack church to remember Marion Dewar
Published Saturday, September 20, 2008 12:05PM EDT
Hundreds of mourners jammed a west Ottawa Catholic Church Friday morning to bid a final farewell to former Ottawa mayor Marion Dewar.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, local MPP Jim Watson and NDP Leader Jack Layton were among more than 800 people on hand at St. Basil's Church for the public funeral, which honoured Dewar for her compassion and determination.
The funeral combined love and laughter as family members remembered her.
"She lives on in the many traits that each of us have inherited, I know for me, I have her rebellious spirit, singing voice, and a love of scotch," said grandaughter Meaghan Dewar to laughter.
One of Dewar's many accomplishments during her time as mayor included a program called Project 4000, where she arranged for Vietnamese boat people to relocate in the capital.
"She trusted that (when) faced with a groundswell of concern that we could convince the federal government to allow more refugees into our country. And they did," said son Paul, the NDP federal candidate in Ottawa-Centre.
After her third term as mayor, Dewar herself went on to become a Member of Parliament and president of the federal New Democratic Party.
Dewar's funeral came one day after thousands flowed into Ottawa City Hall to pay their respects as she lay in state at Jean Pigott Hall.
Playing "Lord of the Dance" at the end had special meaning for Roy Cowan, who once gave Dewar dance lessons.
Mingling with community mourners like Cowan were political heavyweights.
"She was an inspiration," said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. "I was just very, very proud of her as a young person growing up in Ottawa to call her my mayor."
Said former Mayor Bob Chiarelli: "If Ottawa could look to a person who is a saint, the closest to a saint, she would be it. She just gave so much to everyone for her whole lifetime."
Dewar died in a Toronto hospital Monday after taking a serious fall while attending the Toronto International Film Festival over the weekend. She was 80 years old.
Those wishing to make donations in Dewar's memory are asked to contact Oxfam Canada at www.oxfam.ca
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Norman Fetterley