Toronto’s first Black female councillor dies at 92

Beverley Salmon

Beverley “Bev” Salmon, Toronto’s first Black female city councillor, known for her advocacy for more inclusive practices within municipal government, died last Thursday at the North York General hospital. She was 92.

Her son, Warren, told The Caribbean Camera that she died after a brief illness.

Salmon was born in Toronto to a Jamaican father, Herbert McLean Bell Sr., and a Canadian mother, Violet Bryan.

In the early 1950s, she trained in nursing at Wellesley Hospital in Toronto and received her public health nurse certification in 1954 from the University of Toronto.

She began her nursing career in earnest in 1956 in Detroit. While she was there, she became involved with the civil rights movement, and continued her work as an activist when she returned to Toronto in the 1960s.

In 1985, Salmon became Toronto’s first Black female city councillor, representing North York. She retired from municipal politics in 1997.

She was awarded the Order of Ontario in 2016, and the Order of Canada in 2017.

Beverley Salmon

She is the mother of two sons – Warren Salmon and the late Dr. John Douglas Salmon Jr.– and two daughters – Heather Regal Salmon and Leslie Salmon Jones – and the grandmother of five.

She was predeceased by her husband, Dr. John Douglas Salmon.

Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR), a non-profit charitable organization, said it’s “deeply saddened” to learn of her passing.

“As Toronto’s first Black woman to become a city councillor and a founding member of UARR, Bev was an extraordinary trailblazer who tirelessly ignited social change and amplified marginalized voices in our community,” the organization said on Twitter.

A funeral service for the late Beverley Salmon will be held at St. John’s York Mills Anglican church on July 20.

Visitations will be held at York Funeral Home in Toronto on July 18 and 19.