Life and legacy

Watch the video and read more about Hazel McCallion’s achievements.

Hazel McCallion was mayor of Mississauga for 36 years. She was first elected in November 1978, and went on to serve 12 consecutive terms as mayor; the longest-serving mayor in the City’s history. She was acclaimed in 1980 and then re-elected in 1982 and 1985, acclaimed again in 1988 and re-elected in 1991, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2010. She decided not to run in the 2014 election and stepped down on December 1, 2014.

After leaving politics, McCallion didn’t put her feet up and retire. She authored a memoir in 2014 appropriately called Hurricane Hazel: A Life With Purpose.

In 2015, she was appointed Chief Elder Officer at Revera Inc. to provide advice and counsel to seniors and officials leading the company. That same year, she became a special advisor to the University of Toronto Mississauga.

In addition, she was appointed the first Chancellor of Sheridan College in 2016. To top things off in 2016, in honour of her birthday, the Government of Ontario announced that February 14 be renamed Hazel McCallion Day.

Hazel McCallion, former Mississauga Mayor, gesturing towards the Absolute World residential condominium twin tower skyscrapers.
Hazel McCallion, former Mississauga Mayor, standing in front of an indoor ice rink.

Early life

Born as Hazel Journeaux, she was the youngest of five children in an English speaking family in Port Daniel on the Gaspe Coast of Quebec. She was educated in Quebec City and Montreal. She learned her strong work ethic by helping out at her father’s general store at the young age of 10.

She grew up playing hockey and began playing professional women’s hockey while attending school in Montreal. She was paid $5 a game for the team sponsored by Kik Cola.

She began a career with Canadian Kellogg and remained with the company for 19 years. In 1942, she was transferred to Toronto to help set up Kellogg’s office. In 1951, she met Sam McCallion and married later that year. Together they moved to the village of Streetsville, where they raised three children: Peter, Linda and Paul.


The political years

In 1967, she decided to leave the corporate world and devote her career to politics.

McCallion was named as a new member of the Streetsville Planning Board in 1964 and served as Chair of the Board in 1966 and again in 1968. Later that year, she became Deputy Reeve of Streetsville. McCallion was appointed Reeve and then elected as Mayor of Streetsville in 1970, serving until December 1973.

When the Region of Peel was established in 1974, McCallion was elected to the Mississauga and Peel Regional Councils. She served two terms as a Councillor prior to her mayoral campaign in 1978. By the time she was elected Mayor, she had sat on virtually every committee at the Region of Peel and the City of Mississauga.

She also served on the executive of many federal and provincial committees and associations, including President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) from 1978 to 1979.

In 1991, McCallion became the first mayor of a major municipality to submit the annual operating budget to residents for their input and scrutiny. She is also among the first mayors of major municipalities to be openly committed to a pay-as-you-go philosophy. The City has not had to borrow money since 1978 and is currently debt-free.

As Mayor, McCallion also established the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Mayors’ Committee in 1992. She brought together the 30 GTA mayors, later adding the Chair of Metro Toronto and the four Regional Chairs to work co-operatively for the economic promotion of the GTA. From 1992 to January 2000, the Committee, chaired by Mayor McCallion, was a strong voice on key issues affecting the future of the GTA.

As part of that effort, she was the Honorary Co-Chair of the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance. In 1996, McCallion was appointed to the “Who Does What” Panel established by the Province to review the delivery and funding of government services. She was also appointed to two sub-panels: Assessment and Property Taxation Reform, and Emergency Services.

Hazel McCallion, former Mississauga Mayor, standing at a podium while delivering a speech.

In addition, while Mayor of Mississauga, she represented AMO on the Electricity Transition Committee for the Ministry of Electricity, Science and Technology.

In February 2002, McCallion was appointed Chair of the Central Ontario Smart Growth Panel by the Honourable Chris Hodgson, then Minister of Municipal Affairs. The panel, made up of 22 local government officials and business leaders, advised the provincial government on how to plan for growth for the central region in both the short and long term. In addition to the pressing issue of growth, the panel looked at other issues, including gridlock and waste disposal. The panel, the largest in the province, included the Cities of Brantford and Kawartha Lakes, the Counties of Dufferin, Simcoe and Peterborough, the Regions of Niagara, Waterloo, Halton, Peel, York and Durham, as well as the City of Toronto.

McCallion played a leading role for women in politics

She was the first woman to hold such significant positions as President of the Streetsville and District Chamber of Commerce; President of the Anglican Young Peoples’ Association of Canada; Mayor of Streetsville; and Mayor of Mississauga. She was chosen one of the “American Women of the Year” in Who’s Who of American Women (which refers to North American women).

McCallion also held Germany’s highest individual honour, the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, for her role in bringing German companies to Canada.

In addition, she was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship by Rotary International in 1985 and 1992; the Lions International President’s Award; the Helen Keller Fellowship from the Mississauga Lions Clubs; and named a Melvin Jones Fellow for dedicated humanitarian services by Lions Clubs International.

Hazel McCallion, former Mississauga Mayor, standing in the middle of a garden surrounded by fall foliage.

In 2001, Mayor McCallion was inducted into the Mississauga Sports Hall of Fame and presented with a special Award of Excellence in celebration of the Mississauga Board of Trade’s 25th Anniversary.

In January 2003, McCallion received the Canadian Family Values Award from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In September 2003, she received one of the top leadership awards from the International Economic Development Council for her leadership and dedication to addressing economic development issues in Mississauga. 

In 2004, McCallion became a finalist for the title of World Mayor 2004, joining some 50 mayors from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe.   

In 2005, McCallion was invested as a Dame in the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, the Hereditary Order. The same year she was honoured with an award from the Province of Ontario in recognition of her more than 30 years of service as a municipal elected official.

McCallion’s accolades continued as she was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada and received her Insignia of Member of the Order of Canada at a ceremony held at Rideau Hall on November 18, 2005. Then on December 5, 2005, it was announced that McCallion was the runner-up to Mayor Dora Bakoyanni of Athens, Greece for World Mayor 2005.

In early 2006, McCallion was recognized as the CNW Communicator of the Year by the Toronto Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. McCallion was recognized by Reader’s Digest in their June 2006 issue featuring Canada’s three best mayors. The award-winning continued that year as the City of Mississauga and the Healthy City Stewardship Centre were awarded the 2006 World Leadership Award for the Stewardship Centre Initiative and the Healthy Mississauga 2010 Plan.

In 2010, McCallion received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Toronto. In 2012, Shahid Rassam unveiled a portrait of McCallion at the South Asian Gallery of Art in support of the SickKids Foundation.

The accolades continued with the Order of the Rising Sun, 4th Class, Gold Rays with Rosette for her support of Japanese businesses in Mississauga and furthering of Japanese-Canadian relations. After stepping down as Mayor, she received the prestigious Key to the City of Mississauga in April 2017.

Hazel McCallion, former Mississauga Mayor, pointing at a 3D model of the City of Mississauga.

McCallion’s credits and memberships 

  • Past Chairman, Mississauga Taxicab Authority
  • Past Chairman, Mississauga Planning Committee
  • Past Chairman, Mississauga Sign Committee
  • Past Chair, World Health Organization Symposiums on Healthy Cities
  • Past Vice-Chairman, Advisory Committee on Local Government Management
  • Past President, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario
  • Past Vice-President, World Conference of Mayors
  • Past member, Municipal Liaison Committee
  • Governor, Canada Jaycees
  • Chair, Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO)
  • Board of Directors, Enersource Hydro Mississauga Corporation
  • Past Member, Advisory Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) Centre for Health Development
  • Member, Greater Toronto Transit Authority Board (GO Transit)
  • Member, Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), Nomination Ad Hoc Committee
  • Member, Region of Peel, Local Governance Ad Hoc Committee
  • Member, Canadian Federation of Municipalities
  • Member, Advisory Council for University Scholarships of Canada
  • Member, Advisory Council on the Transportation of Dangerous Goods
  • Member, Transit Integration Steering Committee
  • Honorary Chair, EcoSource Mississauga
  • Honorary Chair, Women’s World Hockey Tournament, 1987, 1997 and 2000
  • Honorary Chair, Mississauga Technology Association
  • Honorary Chair, 2003 Purple Ribbon Campaign for Peel Children’s Aid Foundation
  • Honorary Director, Mississauga Chinese Business Association
  • Honorary international member, Beta Sigma Phi
  • Honorary life member, Polish Alliance of Canada
  • Honorary life member, Mississauga Real Estate Board
  • Honourable member, Board of Regents, Ontario Women’s Hockey Association
  • Honorary member, Mississauga Kinsmen
  • Honorary member, Mississauga Central Lions Club
  • Honorary member, Mississauga Rotary Club
  • Honorary member, Alpha Delta Kappa
  • Honorary member, National Council of the Boy Scouts of Canada
  • Honorary member, Mississauga Italian-Canadian Business and Professional Association
  • Honorary Chair of Carassauga
  • Honorary Chair, Mississauga Construction Association
  • Journeyman’s Certificate from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America

McCallion established many citizens’ committees

  • Mayor’s Task Force on Building Deficiencies
  • Mayor’s Energy Task Force
  • Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee
  • Mayor’s Youth Opportunities Committee
  • Mississauga Clean City Campaign (now EcoSource Mississauga)
  • Mississauga Sports Council
  • Mississauga Arts Council
  • Mississauga Friendship Association (Kariya, Japan – Mississauga’s Twin City)
  • Economic Development Advisory Committee
  • Citizens’ Task Force on the Future of Mississauga
  • Mississauga Arts Review Taskforce

Educational institutions and facilities named after McCallion

  • Hazel McCallion Senior Public School
  • Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre, University of Toronto Mississauga
  • Hazel McCallion Centre for Heart Heath, Mississauga Hospital
  • Hazel McCallion Campus, Sheridan College
  • Hazel McCallion Canada Day Parade, Port Credit
Hazel McCallion, former Mississauga Mayor, sitting on a concrete bench in front of Meadowvale Community Centre.