Flags at Ottawa City Hall were lowered Monday to honour the life of former mayor Marion Dewar, who passed away in a Toronto hospital after suffering a serious fall in that city over the weekend.

Her family members, including son Paul who is the incumbent NDP MP for Ottawa-Centre, travelled to be by her bedside.

"This woman, my mother, taught me everything," said Paul, when he was elected in 2006.

Giving boat people new life

Dewar was mayor of Ottawa from 1978 to 1985. One of her many accomplishments included a program called Project 4000, where she arranged for Vietnamese boat people to relocate in the capital.

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"The look in their eyes of just almost days, but a sense of hope -- I thought maybe it's all worth while. Maybe this is what this job is all about," Dewar said about the project back in 1979.

At the Mekong Restaurant in Ottawa, owner Dennis Luc -- who came to Canada as one of those 4,000 people -- remembered Dewar Monday for what she did to help him find a new life.

"My heart is still very beating. All morning, I cannot concentrate on my work," he said.

"I'm very appreciate what she did for the boat people. Have a chance to have a good life here in a beautiful country - in Canada."

Dedication to the capital

Dewar, who went on to become a Member of Parliament and president of the federal New Democratic Party, was remembered compassionately by long-time political veterans who paid tribute to her life and commitment to the citizens of Ottawa on Monday.

"We don't simply mourn the passing of one of the bravest women I've ever known. We also celebrate her groundbreaking career and her spirit and especially her joy for life," said former NDP leader Ed Broadbent.

"She will be deeply missed by the people of Ottawa and all who had the good fortune to know and work with her," Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said in a statement.

"As mayor of Ottawa, she made it easier for citizens to become involved in municipal decision-making, improved access to low-cost housing and child care services . . . Today the city is a stronger, more inclusive place because of her leadership."

On the municipal stage, Mayor Larry O'Brien also paid tribute to Dewar and her dedication to the capital and its residents.

"(She was) certainly one of the most beloved mayors the city's had. She was a committed activist," O'Brien told CTV Ottawa Monday afternoon.

Marion Dewar was 80 years old. Residents are welcomed to sign a book of condolences at Andrew Haydon Hall at Ottawa City Hall daily from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Norman Fetterley