Hundreds of mourners and the city of Toronto said a tearful goodbye to former mayor Rob Ford on Wednesday.
Bagpipes played as members of Ford’s family, including his wife, two young children, mother and brother, joined other mourners who packed into St. James Cathedral and spilled onto its lawns to say their final goodbyes.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, current Toronto Mayor John Tory and numerous other city councillors – some who routinely disagreed with him when he was alive – joined in putting aside their political stripes to pay tribute to the controversial, larger-than-life politician who died from cancer last week at age 46.
“We’re coming together as Torontonians,” said former deputy mayor Norm Kelly.
Ford’s young daughter, Stephanie, was among those who spoke at her father’s service, calling him a “great mayor.”
“My dad was a great man. He was so nice to us, also strict sometimes, as dads should be,” she said, calling him “the mayor of heaven now.”
Ford’s brother Doug wrestled with his emotions as he told mourners the service had brought people together for “the Rob Ford party, the party of the people.”
“I miss you like crazy, I love you more than anything in the world,” said Doug Ford while choking back tears.
It was left to Rev. Andrew Asbil, rector of St. James cathedral, to note the improbable heights of both adulation and infamy that Ford scaled as mayor.
“You and I, no matter how hard we try, will never have the same notoriety nor popularity nor household fame as Rob Ford,” Asbil said in his homily.
“Very few of us in this room know what it’s like to carry the burden of living your failings and your weaknesses in such a public way as Rob Ford. And – this is important – very few of us will know what it’s like to experience the love and admiration of so many for the work that we do in the same way as Rob did.”
Former premier Mike Harris offered a final farewell to his friend of two decades, saying the real tribute to Ford was all the people who turned out while he lay in repose at City Hall for two days.
Ford will be buried in a private ceremony. The family has invited members of the public to a west-end hall to celebrate the life of the former mayor, councillor and family man.
Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report
All photos courtesy The Canadian Press