'I don't want to get old': Hazel McCallion celebrates 99th birthday in style
TORONTO -- At the age of 99, Hazel McCallion has no desire to slow down.
“To have your birthday on Valentine’s Day is very, very special,” McCallion said while celebrating and enjoying cupcakes at the Revera Support Office a day earlier.
McCallion will be spending her actual birthday in typical fashion—with a large number of back-to-back scheduled events. She told CTV News Toronto that she will be having breakfast with a group of friends in the morning before meeting with a group of residents from the Portuguese community, as well as members of a local construction union. Between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., she will be at an open house held at the Vic Johnston Community Centre, where members of the community can drop by and wish her well.
Following that, McCallion is scheduled to drop the puck at a Mississauga Steelheads game at the Paramount Arena.
“No slowing down,” she said. “I don’t want to get old.”
McCallion served as mayor of Mississauga between 1978 and 2014, ultimately making her one of Canada’s longest serving municipal leaders. She told CTV News Toronto that one of her most memorable accomplishments was the handling of the Mississauga derailment in 1979.
“It put Mississauga on the world map. But most important of all, it prepared all of the necessary legislation to control the transportation of dangerous goods by rail, land, road and air,” she said.
Since her retirement five and a half years ago, “Hurricane Hazel” has continued to stay involved in the community as chancellor, advisor, and chair of numerous boards. After turning down an official appointment as advisor to Ontario Premier Doug Ford in January 2019, she remains a trusted confident, offering advice based on her vast experience in politics.
GTA celebrates McCallion’s birthday
At Credit Valley Hospital, babies born 99 years apart from McCallion were gifted a bib with a mayoral chain that says “Future Mayor of Mississauga.”
On Monday, the former mayor visited the maternity ward of the hospital to hand out the bibs, gracefully placing the oversized garment on top of the newborns.
While attending a Toronto Maple Leafs game Thursday night, McCallion was gifted a jersey with the number “99.” The team posted video to social media of the stadium erupting in applause as she stood up to wave and accept her gift.
Bonnie Crombie, Mississauga’s current mayor, took to Twitter to send her mentor “99 Valentines to celebrate her 99th birthday.”
Toronto’s mayor also joined in the celebration, posting two photographs of McCallion to social media.
“I know I join communities across the GTA, including the City of Toronto, in wishing her a happy 99th birthday today!”