Councillors pay tribute to McCallion ahead of 100th birthday

by Alex Gregory

A century on, and she still shows no sign of slowing down. Ahead of her 100th birthday this weekend, Mississauga councillors paid tribute to legendary former Mayor Hazel McCallion Wednesday with personal tributes, greetings from local personalities and an online ceremony that saw Central Library renamed in her honour.

McCallion, who served as Mayor of Mississauga for 36 years and attracted national and international attention for her trailblazing leadership, take charge attitude and model for governance, was heralded by councillors during their regular meeting as “remarkable” for her efforts to put the city on the map.

“Your fingerprints are on everything, from our downtown core to our communities… Hazel, you are everywhere,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who spoke of McCallion as a friend and a mentor who always “provided the ‘wow’ factor in everything you do.” A number of initiatives will be promoting McCallion’s birthday this weekend, including a feature length musical documentary, Hazel A Celebration: 100 Years in the Making, produced by the Mississauga Arts Council, that will air virtually starting at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 14 — McCallion’s birthday.

The documentary will feature an assortment of performers, including local musicians, orchestras, blues bands and much more as they perform their own signature tribute to Hazel, who was born on Feb. 14, 1921. Mississauga Civic Centre’ Clock Tower will also be lit in pink and-red this weekend to celebrate the occasion.

Born as Hazel Mary Muriel Journeaux in Port-Daniel, Quebec, McCallion would rise to prominence as the Mayor of Streetsville prior to Mississauga’s amalgamation, and as a force on the world stage that courted the attention of Prime Ministers, politicians, local leaders and more as sought to make the city “second to none.” “I look back, and I think about the many years I was in public office. We’ve accomplished so much together,” McCallion said Wednesday morning, referring to past and present councillors. “No one person can do it alone. It’s been a team approach. “ Other councillors spoke of their work alongside McCallion on council, and how she broke barriers for young women entering public office. “Hazel, you’ve seen so much during your lifetime… you didn’t just glide through. You worked really, really hard, as a young woman, as a wife, as a mother, and then getting into politics,” said Ward 9 councillor Pat Saito, who spoke of McCallion’s early career in women’s hockey and her subsequent efforts to “grab the biggest puck you could, and smash that glass ceiling.” Signs bearing the new name of the Central Library have been placed outside the building, with a planned redevelopment project beginning later this spring to modernize the space. Look for a special section of Peel Weekly News this weekend, featuring photos, testimonials and articles about Hazel’s life and legacy.

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Surjit Singh Flora

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