Former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion dies at 101

Former mayor of Mississauga Hazel McCallion has died at the age of 101 on Jan. 29, 2023. (Courtesy: Flickr/Joey Coleman)

Hazel McCallion, who served as mayor of Mississauga for 36 years, has died at the age of 101. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford issued an announcement about her death Sunday morning.

Ford said McCallion “passed away peacefully at her home in Mississauga early this morning.”

McCallion was married to Sam McCallion who died in 1997. She is survived by her three children, Paul (Marie), Linda Burgess (the late Peter) and Peter McCallion, and her grand daughter, Erika.

“She led the transformation of Mississauga into one of Canada’s largest cities. Hazel’s mark on her community can be found in the many places and organizations that bear her name, including the Hazel McCallion Line,” Ford said in the statement. 

“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,” Ford added. 

McCallion was mayor of Mississauga from 1978 until 2014, making her the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history. 

Born on February 14, 1921, McCallion was raised in Quebec. In 1945, she met her husband Sam and the couple married six years later, and moved to Streetsville (before it became a part of Mississauga).

A year after being electedMcCallion faced the worst disaster in Mississauga’s history when a Canadian Pacific freight train containing hazardous chemicals derailed, caught fire and exploded.

She successfully evacuated over 230,000 city residents due to chlorine and chemicals emitted from the explosion. McCallion’s handling of the situation resulted in no deaths and she was praised for her work. 

During her time as mayor, McCallion attracted businesses from Toronto to Mississauga by lowering taxes. Mississauga is now the third-largest city in Ontario with a population of more than 717,000. 

“As our first female Mayor at a very critical time in our history, she helped grow and shape Mississauga from farmland and fruit trees into the seventh-largest city in Canada with a quality of life that is ‘second to none,’” Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a statement on Sunday. 

“She was also proof that if you “do your homework,” you can achieve just about anything. Strong-willed and determined, she always fought for the best interests of Mississauga whether it was at the Council table, Queen’s Park or on Parliament Hill,” she added.

Beloved by many, McCallion was nicknamed “Hurricane Hazel” for her unique political style and desire to create change. 

Since leaving the mayor’s office, she has worked with University of Toronto Mississauga, Sheridan College, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, Ontario Women’s Hockey Association, the Ontario Government, and Revera Incorporated, among others.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also issued a statement on Sunday offering his condolences to McCallion’s family and friends.

“‘I want to assure you that the people will come first during my term’ she told a cheering crowd when she won her first term as mayor almost 45 years ago. And that was how she served: by putting people first,” Trudeau said.

“She inspired countless others, including myself, in her decades of tireless and selfless service. I will miss her as a friend, and I’ll always cherish the conversations we had, and the wisdom she shared over the years,” he added.

The City of Mississauga says memorial arrangements and details will be provided once they are available.

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