June Rowlands, Toronto's 1st female mayor, dead at 93

June Rowlands, the first female mayor of Toronto, had died at age 93.

Rowlands, who served as mayor from 1991-94, had 'burning desire to make a contribution,' son says

June Rowlands' term as mayor was the culmination of a long career in municipal politics that started when she was elected to city council in 1976. She held the city's top job from 1991-94. (Hans Deryk/The Canadian Press)

June Rowlands, the first female mayor of Toronto, had died at age 93. 

Bruce Rowlands said his mother died on Thursday night at a long-term care facility.

Rowlands was elected mayor in 1991 and served until 1994. Her term as mayor was the culmination of a long career in municipal politics that started when she was elected to city council in 1976.

During her time on council she served as the city's budget chief and was the first woman to head the Toronto Transit Commission and the Metropolitan Toronto Police Commission.

She also made her mark fighting for affordable housing and trying to preserve the city's ravines and historical neighbourhoods.

Rowlands, pictured here in 1998, served as a TTC commissioner, budget chief, executive committee member, chair of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Commission and mayor. (CBC)

Bruce Rowlands said his mother was a humble person who wanted to serve her community. "She had a burning desire to make a contribution," he said in an interview.

Toronto Mayor John Tory expressed his condolences to Rowlands' family, noting her involvement with the community stretched back to the 1950s.

"She helped build this city and blazed a trail as the first woman to serve as a TTC commissioner, budget chief, executive committee member, chair of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Commission and mayor," he said. 

"She was a strong representative of her North Toronto community and it is fitting that Davisville Park was renamed June Rowlands Park in 2004 to honour her work," Tory added.

Condolences poured in on Twitter from local politicians.

Coun. Josh Matlow told CBC Toronto that Rowlands was a trailblazer.

"I know we will all be grateful for her legacy for breaking that glass ceiling and allowing every young girl to know that they can grow up and be mayor themselves," he said.

Rowlands' son said she also always spoke up to help the disadvantaged.

"Even socially she advocated for the disadvantaged, in terms of the kinds of conversations she got into around the dining room table," he said.

"There wasn't a lot of frivolous stuff generally speaking, we zeroed in on issues and that's what she liked to talk about."

The family plans to organize a memorial service in the New Year.

With files from CBC News