TORONTO - The big man will be back in City Hall one more time.
And there will also be at least one more Ford Fest-style party to send Rob Ford off in style.
“It will be a celebration,” his brother Doug Ford said Wednesday. “Rob would not want people sitting on their hands.”
But the sombre event will come first.
When Ford’s casket is brought to City Hall on Monday, it will in essence lie in state — although it’s technically considered lying “in repose.”
Whatever they call it, when Ford enters City Hall, it will be historic.
Toronto historian Mike Filey says sitting mayors — Sam McBride, who died in 1936, and Don Summerville, 1963 — and NDP leader Jack Layton, who was a former Toronto city councillor and died in 2011, lay in repose at City Hall, but he believes Ford will be the first sitting councillor to do so.
“We also believe Mr. Ford will be the first former mayor to lie in repose,” Filey said.
The decision to grant the honour was ultimately Mayor John Tory’s — something Filey called a “fitting” and “appropriate” response.
A sombre Doug Ford said he appreciates the gesture from his former political rival, who also happens to be a longtime family friend.
Tory said it wasn’t a difficult decision.
“While all of these arrangements involved very personal decisions to be made by the family, I was anxious to ensure they had our full support in determining how best to honour Rob’s life, including his public service,” Tory told me. “It was quite simply what I thought to be the right answer to a reasonable request and I think the people I serve will be very comfortable with it.”
The biggest concern is how would Rob Ford feel about it?
All involved understand they need to keep the cost down for fear of lightning bolts striking down from the afterlife.
Ford’s wife, Renata, said she approves because the people of Toronto meant so much to him and he gave so much of himself to serve them.
As in life, Rob Ford is bound to attract a huge crowd. There will likely be long lines of people who want to celebrate the life of the legendary former chief magistrate and father of two, who died Tuesday at the age of 46 after an 18-month battle with cancer.
“Councillor Ford’s family wishes to express their gratitude for the thousands of messages of support they have received from around the world,” Dan Jacobs, his chief of staff, said in a press release Wednesday. “As difficult as it is to say goodbye, they would like to do so in the same manner in which he lived his life, by sharing it with the people.”
With that in mind, at 9 a.m. Monday “Councillor Ford and his family will arrive at City Hall, where he will lie in repose.”
From 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., City Hall will be open for members of the public to pay their respects. They’ll get the same opportunity Tuesday from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.
On Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., a procession will travel from City Hall to St. James Cathedral, at Church and King Sts., where the funeral will begin at noon.
A private burial will follow, but at 6:30 p.m. “the Ford Family welcomes members of the public to join them at the Toronto Congress Centre, 650 Dixon Rd., for a celebration of Councillor Ford’s life.”
As sad as Ford Nation is, it’s going to come out for this goodbye. Some of Ford’s favourites, from those great Christian choirs he loved so much to island music performers to singers like Jenny James, have offered to take part.
“It will be good to see everybody,” Doug Ford said. “I don’t think it will be the same as a Ford Fest because I have to admit we are all really hurting.”
But they will give it their best in honour of His Honour.
FORD MEMORIAL DETAILS
The family asks that members of the public send short (under 10 seconds) video clips talking about their experiences with Councillor Ford, along with pictures, which will be compiled into montages to be played at his celebration of life. Files can be e-mailed to [email protected]
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his honour to the Ford-Panov research panel at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Monday, March 28, 2016
- 9:00 AM Councillor Ford and his family will arrive at City Hall, where he will lie in repose
- 10:00 AM City Hall will be open for members of the public to pay their respects to the Councillor and his family
- 6:00 PM City Hall will close for the day
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
- 7:30 AM City Hall will be open for members of the public to pay their respects to the Councillor and his family
- 9:30 PM City Hall will close for the day, and Councillor Ford and his family will depart
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
- 10:30 AM Procession starting at Toronto City Hall, and ending at St James Cathedral (65 Church St) where the funeral service will be held. Route information to follow at a later time
- 12:00 PM Funeral services at St James Cathedral
- 1:00 PM Funeral services conclude, Councillor Ford and his family will depart to lay him to rest - Private Ceremony
- 6:30 PM The Ford Family welcomes members of the public to join them at the Toronto Congress Centre (650 Dixon Rd) for a celebration of Councillor Ford's life
- 9:00 PM Celebration concludes