Former Mayor of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion, popularly known as “Hurricane Hazel” for her unrelenting tenacity, has died. She died at the age of 101.
While announcing her death in a statement issued by his office, Ontario Premier, Doug Ford said: “At the request of the family, I announce with heavy heart, the passing of my dear friend and mentor, Hazel McCallion.”
McCallion, who would have turned 102 on February 14, died peacefully at her home in Mississauga early Sunday morning.
Ford said: “Hazel was the true definition of a public servant,” Ford said. “There isn’t a single person who met Hazel who didn’t leave in awe of her force of personality. I count myself incredibly lucky to have called Hazel my friend over these past many years.”
The Mayor of Mississauga, Bonnie Crombie, said McCallion was the driving force behind her decision to contest and succeed her as Mayor.
In a statement, Crombie said: “I wouldn’t be the leader I am today if it wasn’t for her support and sage advice. As the saying goes, ‘if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’”
Toronto Mayor John Tory said McCallion’s commitment to local government was “absolute.”
He said:“You always knew where you stood with Hazel,” said Tory.
“She didn’t hesitate to work with the federal and provincial governments to get things done for her city but she also spoke truth to power and held those same governments to account whenever she had to.”
McCallion, was born in Port Daniel, Que., in 1921. She went on to become Mississauga’s longest-standing mayor by holding the position for a remarkable 12 consecutive terms which spanned over 36 years from 1978-2014.
At the age of 93, she retired from politics.
While she was Mayor, Mississauga developed to become the sixth biggest city in Canada, and McCallion stamped her reputation as a legendary Canadian personality and dedicated public servant.
When she retired, she said: “I worked hard for the people of Mississauga for 36 years.”
When she left politics, she was appointed chancellor of Sheridan College and special advisor to the principal of the University of Toronto-Mississauga.
During a series of interviews with CityNews over some years, she explained how her capacity for hard work was developed during the tough Depression years.
She said: “Being a Depression kid, you learn that things were not plentiful, but I ate good food, ate a lot of fish. My mom and dad were hard workers and as a youngster I had to bring the wood in at night because we had an all-wood stove. You learn to look after yourself.”
During the tough childhood, she also learned to skate, with hockey becoming a lifelong passion.
She said: “My brother brought me home a pair of skates when I was five-years-old. I learned to skate on a pond in a hay field.”
She later played for a women’s hockey team in Montreal and the championship trophy at the 1978 World Women’s Hockey Tournament was named the Hazel McCallion World Cup.
While talking to CityNews in 2017, she said: “I was a pioneer in politics as a mayor, and I certainly was a pioneer in hockey because I played professional hockey in Montreal in 1940-1941, and was paid $5 a game.”
McCallion went to school in Quebec City and Montreal and began working for engineering and contracting firm Canadian Kellogg in Montreal.
In 1951, she married Sam McCallion and had three children. Her husband died in 1997.
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