Happy 99th Birthday Hazel McCallion: 10 Things You May Not Know About Madam Mayor
In robust good health at the age of 99, Hazel McCallion still refuses to let age stand in her way. Photo: Chris Chapman
Legendary Mississauga, Ont., Mayor “Hurricane” Hazel McCallion turns 99 today.
Madam Mayor, as she still likes to be addressed, started birthday celebrations early last night by attending the Toronto Maple Leaf game, where the huge hockey fan was presented with a Leafs jersey with her name emblazoned on the back. The number? 99, what else? As she turned around to wave, the crowd gave her a standing ovation.
McCallion’s birthday plans include having a coffee with friends at her favourite Streetsville diner, attending a celebration in her honour and then dropping the ceremonial puck the Mississauga Steelheads game tonight.
Last spring, I had the great fortune to sit down with McCallion for an interview with Zoomer magazine. What I remember from that day was how her abundant energy, zest for life and playfulness shone through, not only during the interview but also in the complicated photo shoot that required her to hold awkward poses for extended periods and undergo multiple wardrobe changes. Not once during a long day did her energy flag — an amazing accomplishment for mere mortals, but Hazel shrugged it off. Business as usual for this standard bearer of healthy aging.
At the unveiling of her Zoomer cover in April, 2019, founder and CEO Moses Znaimer lauded McCallion as a, “great role model over the years, for woman in politics, women in government and women in power. But she is not content being a role model, she’s determined to be a model and, as is Hazel’s way, whatever she determines to do she aces completely.”
So, to honour a mighty Hurricane that never seems blow itself out, here are 10 things we learned about McCallion from our cover story: Hurricane Hazel: A Legend of Municipal Politics Refuses to Let Age Stand in Her Way
- She was born Hazel Journeax in Port Daniel, Que., in 1921.
- She owes her longevity to growing up on a farm, eating plenty of fish and farm-grown meat and vegetables.
- She played in a women’s professional hockey league in Montreal, earning $5 a game.
- In 1979, she gained national acclaim for her handling of the evacuation of 200,000 Mississauga residents after a train carrying dangerous chemicals derailed.
- In 2003, she was hit by a pick-up truck and only after much cajoling she grudgingly stayed the night in hospital.
- She lives in her own home with a 12-year-old German shepherd called Missy, short for Mississauga.
- She drives a black Mercedes. (Note: she’s still driving).
- Prime Ministers, premiers and mayors still seek her political counsel.
- She’s has never officially retired. Her jobs include: Chief Elder Officer for seniors housing company Revera Inc., sitting on the board of directors of Pearson Airport, Honorary Guardian of hospitals in Mississauga, adviser to University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus, advocate for women’s hockey and consultant for charitable, corporate and government bodies.
- She celebrated her 98th birthday by going rock climbing.