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Top moments from Hazel McCallion's state funeral

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Hazel McCallion, Mississauga, Ont.’s longest-serving mayor, was remembered by her friends, colleagues, and loved ones at her state funeral in the city west of Toronto.

McCallion died peacefully at her home last month at the age of 101. Tuesday would have marked her 102nd birthday.

The outspoken politician, who became affectionately known as "Hurricane Hazel,” was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer around Christmas time, according to family friend and representative Jim Murray, who confirmed that was her cause of death.

She served 12 terms as the mayor of Canada’s seventh-largest city until her retirement in 2014.

These are the top moments of the McCallion’s state funeral.

1:50 p.m.

Trudeau, Ford, and other dignitaries stood outside Paramount Fine Foods Centre, as the motorcade drove off, marking the end of the state funeral.

1:35 p.m.

Towards the end of the funeral service, Murray thanked all of the speakers and performers who paid their respects to McCallion on Tuesday.

Ahead of the funeral procession, the national anthem and a rendition of 'How Great Thou Art' was sung.

The sound of bagpipes filled the arena once more, as the pallbearers lifted and carried McCallion's casket out.

1:10 p.m.

Vaughan's Nicolina Bozzo, who appeared on 'American Idol' last year, sang a rendition of 'Danny Boy' -- one of McCallion's all-time favourite songs. During the song, the pallbearers folded the national flag into a triangle.

Shortly after, a moment of silence was observed, with mourners standing from their seats as a trumpeter played 'The Last Post.'

12:55 p.m.

Fran Rider, president of Ontario Women's Hockey Association, took the stage to share her long-standing friendship with McCallion. She spoke about her legacy and what she was like as a hockey player.

"Hazel made her teammates better. She made her opponents -- which were only opponents to a certain degree, they were true friends as well -- she made them matter. And therefore, she believed that it was people that she cared about," Rider said.

Rider went on to talk about how McCallion lived each day to the fullest, adding that through the last few weeks of her life, she still "had this desire to help people."

"Please, go to bed tonight, and say 'I had a wonderful day. I got the honour of celebrating a person who will never be duplicated in this world.' And remember that as you move forward," Rider said.

12:30 p.m.

Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien touched on his friendship with the former mayor, noting how determined, hardworking and "no-nonsense" she was.

"When I quit at 70, [McCallion] called me to give me hell. 'What happened to you?'" Chrétien said. "I'm a chicken, because I cannot be as tough as you are."

Chrétien noted how "very rare" it is for someone to serve as a public servant for 36 years, capping off his condolence speech by saying: "Vive Hazel!"

12:15 a.m.

Current Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie remembered McCallion's "illustrious" decades-long career at city hall, and how it started.

"She demonstrated that fearless leadership and tenacity she became so well known for shortly after winning her first election as mayor, when she saw, and oversaw, the 1979 train derailment, which at the time was the largest evacuation in North American history," Crombie said.

Crombie touched on McCallion's unwavering love and support for women in sports, particularly with respect to hockey. She also shared how McCallion confided in her when she was thinking of retiring, and encouraged Crombie to run for office.

"Happy 102nd birthday my dear friend, Hazel. May you finally have some time to rest [..] We thank you, and we all love you, all miss you, and you will love forever in our hearts," Crombie said, voice straining as she teared up at the end of her speech.

11:55 a.m.

"It is an honour to be here with you to pay my respects to our great friend, Hazel McCallion," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the start of his speech. "I must admit though, it feels a little strange to be here today. Hazel was unstoppable, so I think we all felt she was going to live forever."

Trudeau went on to talk about the time he had bungee jumped last year on a family outing, noting how many questioned that the prime minister might be getting "a little too old for that kind of nonsense."

"I ran into Hazel and joined her on one of the longest, highest, and fastest ziplines in the world," Trudeau said. "Then, in her late 80s, Hazel was not just the oldest elected official to ever do the zipline. She was one of the oldest people, period, to do that."

To end his speech, Trudeau noted how McCallion never had any interest in running provincially or federally. But, if she had, Trudeau said, "We probably would have ended up as ministers serving in her office."

11:47 a.m.

"There wasn't a single person who didn't leave in awe of her force personality. Throughout her life, whether on the ice, in a boardroom, or on the floor of the council chamber," Premier Doug Ford said. "Everyone knew Hazel was a force to be reckoned with."

Ford touched on her commitment to the community, and said she was always fighting for the underdog.

"She grew up in a time that told her she was less than a man, that she didn't belong in the rooms where decisions were made," Ford said. "Hazel refused to accept that."

"She was an icon, a legend, she was Hurricane Hazel," Ford continued, before wishing McCallion a happy birthday.

Ford said he felt fortunate to have been mentored by McCallion as he started his career in politics, ending his speech with how much her life impacted the province – and the country.

"In those final moments, I did what any friend would. I took her hand, offered her as much comfort as I could. I told her 'I love you Hazel,' those words will stay with me until my final moment."

11:30 a.m.

"It is a privilege to be here today to pay tribute to the late Hazel McCallion on behalf of Ontario, and to celebrate her remarkable life," Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell said.

"Hazel McCallion's life, was a life of purpose, and she was ever present with us with endless generosity, of time, energy, and spirit."

Dowdeswell touched on McCallion's notable achievements throughout her lifetime, sharing with mourners that "you could spend an entire afternoon retelling stories of Hazel's life, accomplishments, and her humour."

"She will be long, and fondly remembered," Dowdeswell said, after expressing her condolences to McCallion's family.

Minutes before Dowdeswell took the stage, Sheridan College's choral singers sang a rendition of the hymn, 'Amazing Grace.'

Murray said McCallion was the group's "greatest cheerleader."  

11:15 a.m.

"Do your homework," Jim Murray, McCallion's family friend and representative said at the start of the service, noting it was McCallion's "most famous" piece of advice to others.

"I mentioned doing your homework because it's clear to me that all of you here today have done your homework, or you wouldn't be here. You came to the clear conclusion that we all needed to be here today to pay your respects to Hazel McCallion."

11 a.m.

Bagpipes play and mourners stand at attention, as McCallion's casket makes its way through the crowd to the front of the convention centre.

10:45 a.m.

McCallion’s casket has made its way to Paramount Fine Foods Centre, located at 5500 Rose Cherry Place in Mississauga.

The state funeral is expected to begin at 11 a.m., with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Premier Doug Ford, and Mayor Bonnie Crombie among the attendees.

On Sunday, CTV News Toronto confirmed Mayor John Tory backed out of speaking engagement at McCallion's funeral, following the announcement of his workplace affair with a former staffer.

10:25 a.m.

McCallion’s casket is now leaving Mississauga City Hall – where she has been lying in repose since Sunday – and making its way to the Paramount Fine Foods Centre for the service.

A hearse carrying the casket of former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion arrives at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre for her state funeral in Mississauga, Ont., Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston)

Police closed the roads from Matheson Boulevard East between Timberlea Boulevard and Kennedy Road South have been closed, as well as the roadways around City Centre, to make way for the procession. 

8:12 a.m.

Hours before the service began, Premier Doug Ford shared a video of his late “amazing friend” on what would have been her 102nd birthday.

“If you think about true leaders, there’s one person that stands out. There’s many great leaders, don’t get me wrong, but it’s you, Hazel. Very few people can say they built a city. You literally built Mississauga,” Ford said in the clip, at an event with the former Mississauga mayor.

In the video, the premier continues to thank McCallion for all that she had done for the community, the province, and more.

“I think the world of you,” Ford said, before a photo montage of their friendship played on the screen.

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