June Rowlands

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June Rowlands
June Rowlands, Mayor of Toronto from 1991 to 1994
60th Mayor of Toronto
In office
December 1, 1991 – November 30, 1994
Preceded byArt Eggleton
Succeeded byBarbara Hall
Personal details
June Pendock

(1924-05-14)May 14, 1924
Saint-Laurent, Quebec, Canada
DiedDecember 21, 2017(2017-12-21) (aged 93)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Political partyIndependent (Municipal) Liberal (Federal)
Spouse(s)Harry Rowlands (div.)

June Rowlands (née Pendock; May 14, 1924 – December 21, 2017) was a Canadian politician who was the 60th mayor of Toronto, Ontario,[1] and the first woman to hold that office. She had previously been a longtime city councillor, an unsuccessful federal candidate, and a chair of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Commission.

Early years[edit]

Rowlands was born as June Pendock in 1924 in Saint-Laurent, Quebec, and raised in Toronto. She graduated from the University of Toronto.[2] Before public life Rowlands worked as a customer representative with Bell Canada.[3] Rowlands served with the Association of Women Electors and National Council on Welfare in the 1970s.

She was also president of the Metro Family Service Association and served on the board of directors of the Central Mortgage and Housing Corp.[4]

She and her husband Harry Rowlands (1922–1989),[3] whom she divorced, raised five children.[2]

Political career[edit]

Rowlands was elected to Toronto City Council in 1976. She served as the junior alderman for Ward 10 covering Rosedale and part of North Toronto.[5] In 1978, she topped the vote in her ward becoming its senior alderman with the added duty of sitting on Metro Council.[6] In the 1980s, as a Metro Councillor, she was appointed to sit in the Toronto Transit Commission becoming the first woman member of that body.[7] She attempted to enter federal politics by running for the Liberal Party of Canada in the 1984 federal election. She ran in the suburban riding of York—Scarborough, far from her electoral base in the old City of Toronto, and was defeated by Progressive Conservative Paul McCrossan.[8]

Rowlands remained on both Metro and Toronto city council until the 1988 municipal election in which she did not run in order to accept an appointment as Chair of the Police Commission.[9] In 1991, she left the commission after being replaced as commissioner by Susan Eng.[10]

Mayor of Toronto[edit]

Rowlands was elected mayor in 1991 following a campaign that focused on law and order. The election began with a group of three right of centre women: Rowlands, Susan Fish, and Betty Disero. The left was mostly unified behind city councillor Jack Layton. Eventually right wing support coalesced around Rowlands, and she was elected by a two to one margin over Layton following the withdrawal of her fellow female candidates.[11]

Rowlands is commonly associated with a 1991 incident in which the then-emerging Toronto pop group Barenaked Ladies was barred from performing at the city's annual New Year's Eve show at Nathan Phillips Square, on the grounds that the group's name objectified women. Rowlands maintained that the decision was taken by city staff in the Protocol Office and not herself.[11] After one term in office, Rowlands was defeated in 1994 by Barbara Hall, and retired from politics.[11]


Rowlands died in her sleep at a long-term care facility in downtown Toronto on December 21, 2017, aged 93.[11]

Toronto Mayor John Tory offered his condolences and flags at Toronto City Hall, Metro Hall and other civic centres were lowered to half-mast until December 29, 2017.[12]

June Rowlands Park[edit]

June Rowlands Park
Location220 Davisville Ave, North Toronto (Davisville Village)
Coordinates43°42′02″N 79°23′18″W / 43.70056°N 79.38833°W / 43.70056; -79.38833
Operated byToronto Parks
WebsiteJune Rowlands Park

June Rowlands Park, formerly Davisville Park, was renamed in 2004 in recognition for her dedication to the City of Toronto.[13] Located on the northwest corner of Davisville Avenue and Mount Pleasant Road (within her old Ward 10), the park is the recreational hub of the area, with a baseball diamond, the children's playground in the names of Sharon, Lois and Bram, and a wading pool.[14] The Davisville Tennis Club operates six courts along the north side of the park on Millwood Road.[15]


  1. ^ "Mayor Rowlands: time to reach out". Toronto Star. November 13, 1991. p. A26. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Rowlands quick sketch". The Hamilton Spectator. June 2, 1992. p. C6.
  3. ^ a b "June Rowlands obituary". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  4. ^ Shepherd, Harvey (December 9, 1978). "June Rowlands: The enigma on city executive?". The Globe and Mail. p. 16.
  5. ^ "Voting Results". The Toronto Star. December 7, 1976. p. A11.
  6. ^ "Metro Elections: How you voted". The Toronto Star. November 14, 1978. pp. A12–A13.
  7. ^ "Godfrey returned as Metro Chairman". The Globe and Mail. December 10, 1980. p. 13.
  8. ^ "How Canada voted". The Globe and Mail. September 5, 1984. pp. 14–15.
  9. ^ Harrington, Denise (April 6, 1988). "Rowlands to head police commission". Toronto Star. p. A1.
  10. ^ James, Royson (March 23, 1991). "Controversial Susan Eng touted as head of Metro police board". Toronto Star. p. A1.
  11. ^ a b c d Moon, Jenna; Isai, Vjosa (December 21, 2017). "Former Toronto mayor June Rowlands dead at age 93". Toronto Star.
  12. ^ Wing, Jennifer (December 22, 2017). "City of Toronto mourns passing of former Mayor June Rowlands" (Press release). City of Toronto government.
  13. ^ a b "Renaming of Davisville Park to June Rowlands Park" (PDF). Report No.4 of the Toronto South Community Council. City of Toronto. May 18, 2004. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
  14. ^ The Elli Davis Team: Davisville Village
  15. ^ Davisville Tennis Club location
Political offices
Preceded by
Clare Westcott
Chair of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Commission
Succeeded by
Susan Eng