Hazel McCallion, the former mayor of Mississauga, passed away at the age of 101. Premier Doug Ford announced her passing in a statement on behalf of her family. McCallion served as mayor for 36 years, from 1978 to 2014, making her the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history. During her tenure, she led the transformation of Mississauga from a rural community into a bustling metropolis.
McCallion’s political style earned her the nickname “Hurricane Hazel” from her supporters. She served 12 terms as mayor, facing several conflicts of interest allegations during her time in office. In 1982, she was found guilty by an Ontario court for participating in a council vote on the development of land that she had an interest in. Despite this, she remained mayor and was cleared of another conflict of interest allegation in 2013.
McCallion is credited with using lower taxes in Mississauga to attract businesses from Toronto and helping the city grow. Today, Mississauga is the third-largest city in Ontario and the seventh-largest in Canada, with a population of over 700,000.
In her 2014 autobiography, ‘Hurricane Hazel: A Life with Purpose’, McCallion wrote about her nickname and how it reflected her political style. She stated that while she was a “terror to any premier in Ontario”, she considered herself more of a “builder” than a “hurricane”.
Throughout her career, McCallion received praise for her leadership during the worst disaster in the city’s history, a train derailment and explosion that resulted in no deaths. She also had many places and organizations named after her, including the Hazel McCallion Line.
Hazel McCallion was born in Port Daniel, Quebec, on February 14, 1921. She attended business secretarial school in Quebec City and Montreal after high school, and her first job was at the Louis Rolland Paper Company. She later worked for Canadian Kellogg company and transferred to Toronto. She married her husband Sam in 1951. Hazel’s political career began in Streetsville, where she served as the chairman of the Planning Board before being elected as mayor in 1970. With her leadership and determination, she turned Mississauga from a small town to one of the biggest cities in Canada.