Hazel McCallion Turns 101: A Brief Video Tour of the Long Life and Times of Madam Mayor
Photo: Chris Chapman
Neither age, nor retirement, nor a pandemic can stop Hazel McCallion — the legendary Mississauga, Ont., mayor turns 101 today on Valentine’s Day.
Born in Port Daniel, Que., in 1921, before moving to Toronto in the ’50s, Madame Mayor, as she still likes to be called, literally put Mississauga on the map.
During her epic run, from 1978 to 2014, Her Worship’s enthusiasm for development and frugal government transformed the city from a sleepy suburb to Canada’s 7th largest city.
A retail politician unlike any other before or since, ”Hurricane Hazel” had an astounding political run of 36 consecutive years. Answering the question many had about why she retired, she said for a 2019 cover story in Zoomer magazine, “I felt I had brought the city to the point where it was time for someone to take over with new ideas. I always felt you should leave a job when you’re at a high peak,”
“I thought when I retired as mayor in 2014 that I would just disappear from the scene,” McCallion told CTV News. But nothing could be further from the truth.
MCallion still appears at numerous public functions, sits on boards and is the CEO (chief elder officer) at Revera Living, where she meets with retirement home staff, chats with residents and reports their concerns back to the operator.
“Some of my most productive years came after I turned 65,” she told Zoomer. And as to her being constantly courted by organizations and business groups, “I have experience — especially political experience — which they find essential.”
In honour of Hazel’s 101st birthday, let’s take a video tour through some of the memorable moments in the life of this truly unstoppable centenarian.
In 1978, Hazel won her first election as mayor, defeating Ron Searle. She would hold on to the role for the next 36 years.
In 1979, a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in Mississauga, causing massive panic and upheaval. McCallion (who appears at 3:27 of this video) cooly handled the evacuations and clean up, earning her praise from locals and fame across the country.
Always a Sport
McCallion loved making public appearances almost as much as she loved fishing. In this hilarious video from 2013, she combines the two.
As her success kept piling up, McCallion became a national figure. Here, in 2009, she takes a break from her civic responsibilities and has a bit of fun with Rick Mercer.
Hazel’s passion for hockey — she was a big proponent of the women’s game — dated back to her childhood when she skated on frozen ponds with her brothers. As a teen, she played in a women’s pro league in Montreal, earning $5 a game.
A Consumate Politico
Although she never held an allegiance to any political party, before the 2015 election, McCallion spoke out in this now-famous “Do I Look Scared,” political ad, explaining why seniors should support Justin Trudeau in the 2015 election against Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Oldest Cover Girl, Ever
In 2019, McCallion appeared on on the cover of Zoomer magazine, becoming the oldest person to ever appear on the cover of a Canadian magazine. Here, she unveils the portrait and shares some words of wisdom.
On her 100th birthday last year, Hazel appeared in a special presentation of theZoomer, explaining how she’s managed this longevity miracle.