“An Icon and Legend”: Thousands Attend Funeral of Beloved Former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion

Hazel McCallion

The casket of former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion arrives at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre for her state funeral on Feb.14, 2023 — the date that would have been her 102nd birthday. Photo: Cole Burston/The Canadian Press

Family, friends, politicians and thousands of mourners gathered in a Mississauga, Ont., arena today to say goodbye to their beloved former mayor Hazel McCallion.

The state funeral, which was televised, was held at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre. Her coffin was carried into the arena by representatives from the Peel police, fire and emergency services departments.

Speaker after speaker remembered “Hurricane” Hazel’s feisty manner and extraordinary ability to relate to voters, traits that allowed her to become one of the most well known municipal politicians in the history of Canada.

Canada’s longest-serving mayor, McCallion was a legend in municipal politics and worked indefatigably towards transforming the once-sleepy suburb of Mississauga into Canada’s seventh-largest city. She died on Jan. 29 of pancreatic cancer — today would have been her 102nd birthday.

Former prime minister Jean Chrétien referred to this in his eulogy, saying, “She had a big heart — there’s no coincidence that she was born on February the 14th.” He also praised her as “determined, very hardworking, no-nonsense, and successful.”


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remembered the time he joined McCallion in her 80s for a zip-lining tour in Italy. “She was not just the oldest elected official to do the zip-line, she was one of the oldest people, period, to do it.” The prime minister remembered her as “fierce, passionate and engaged” who ”wouldn’t let anything stop her — ever.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who became emotional during his eulogy (which you can see in the video below), called McCallion “an icon and a legend.” Referring to her as a friend and mentor, he would ”always cherish our Saturday morning conversations over breakfast.”

Current Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie noted that McCallion was the one who first convinced her to run for public office. “Hazel single-handedly changed my destiny that day, while helping our city write the next chapter of our history.”

Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell called McCallion a “trailblazer, an innovator, a fighter, a pragmatist” who focused “on the commonalities that bind us together.”

And former Toronto mayor David Crombie echoed the sentiments of many when he said: “We all thought, like the Queen, Hazel would live forever. And in a way, she will. She will always live forever in our hearts.”