Former Mississauga Mayor and visionary Hazel McCallion passes away at 101 years of age. Her legacy is one that will live on forever.
Thank You Hazel
Hazel McCallion (1921-2023) has left her mark on Mississauga. She will forever be linked to our city and her name is imprinted on the landscape like no other. Arguably no other person in our long history has shaped Mississauga – politically, socially and physically – quite like Hazel. Her image and voice were the recognizable face of Mississauga for decades, and our city grew exponentially and came of age under her guiding hand as mayor for 36 years.
For generations to come, residents of Mississauga will read Hazel’s name across the city: the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre, “Hazel’s Walk” at Square One, the Hazel McCallion Campus of Sheridan College, the Hazel McCallion Centre for Heart Health at the Mississauga Hospital, the Hazel McCallion Senior Public School, the recently renamed Hazel McCallion Central Library, and the Hazel McCallion Line LRT system currently under construction, to name but a few. Those are the tangible, physical markers in our city that remember Hazel. Hazel was also appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2005, of the Order of Ontario in 2021, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto in 2010, amongst numerous other honours.
But the intangible is perhaps more powerful and lasting. Hazel was, of course, a politician and community leader, but also a businesswoman, athlete and inspirational trailblazer and role model for women in politics and as community leaders. Hazel served as Mayor of Streetsville from 1970 to 1973, and as Mayor of Mississauga from 1978 to 2014 – she was the longest-serving mayor in Mississauga’s history and one of Canada’s longest-serving mayors. McCallion led her city for 12 consecutive terms, only retiring at age 93. Nicknamed “Hurricane Hazel” for her brash political style, she oversaw the development of Mississauga from a semi-rural community into a vibrant multicultural centre and the sixth-largest city in Canada. Many civic leaders of today have commented on how they were inspired by Hazel. Undoubtedly her influence will be felt for generations to come.
Hazel was also a supporter of the many programs and events organized by Heritage Mississauga over the years. From officially opening our offices at City Hall in 1994, to being a mainstay at several signature events, such as Maanjidowin and the Canada Pavilion at Carassauga, she was also our featured speaker at Heritage Mississauga’s inaugural Mayoral Luncheon, unveiled multiple plaques and interpretive panels, celebrated Heritage Mississauga’s 50th Anniversary and launched our Lost Villages of Mississauga book in 2010. Being at countless community heritage celebration/anniversary events, Hazel was certainly an ever-present and tireless champion of the City of Mississauga. Hazel was the recipient of the Modern Heritage Award in 2013 and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Heritage Mississauga in 2019 and was inducted into Mississauga’s Legends Row in 2017.
There are many avenues for exploring her life and times, but foremost we would recommend Her Worship: Hazel McCallion and the Development of Mississauga (2009) by Tom Urbaniak. “Her Worship” chronicles the path, personality and policies of Mayor McCallion in the development of the City of Mississauga. This exceptional book offered the first study of Hazel McCallion’s politics and examines her shrewd pragmatism and calculated populism. And, of course, her official biography, entitled Hurricane Hazel: A Life with Purpose (2018) by Hazel McCallion with Robert Brehl, is a must. The book follows Hazel’s life from Port Daniel-Gascon on the Gaspe to Streetsville and Mississauga. In this memoir, McCallion recounts her early years as the mayor of a rapidly growing city; battles with politicians and business leaders; her love of hockey; her personal life and her beloved late husband, Sam McCallion.
Heritage Mississauga extends our condolences to the McCallion family, and to all who knew and were inspired by her. But first and foremost, from the Board and Staff at Heritage Mississauga: Thank you Hazel – for supporting our work, for promoting culture in Mississauga, and for all your efforts in shaping and celebrating the City of Mississauga.
Books of Condolences will be available for public signing starting on Monday, January 30 at 10 am. They will be available at Mississauga City Hall and at multiple community centres.
For more on the life and times of Hazel, please see:
“Hurricane Warning! The Life & Times of Hazel McCallion” from PAMA:
“Hazel McCallion: The Hurricane that changed Mississauga”:
“Do Your Homework” from the Museums of Mississauga”
Ask A Historian – “Life & Times of Hazel McCallion” with Professor Tom Urbaniak:
Hazel A Celebration: 100 Years in the Making from MAC