Hazel McCallion’s children mourn her passing

Hazel McCallion’s children mourn her passing

Following the death of former longtime Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion on Sunday, two of her children shared what made her special as both a mayor and a mother.

Linda Burgess and Peter McCallion spoke to CP24 outside her mother’s home this afternoon after she passed away at the age of 101.

They say they want McCallion to be remembered as the person she was throughout her decades-long civil service career, during which she earned a reputation as a combative, pragmatic leader who made no apologies.

“I just hope people remember her for who she was,” Burgess said.

“She always told the truth, she didn’t sugarcoat anything and just was herself.”

Burgess said that in addition to her commitment to serving her community, McCallion was also very family-oriented and supported her children in whatever they got passionate about.

“She’s always been very supportive of us and always wanted us to do what makes us happy,” Burgess said.

“And [she] was proud of us. As long as you did a good job, it didn’t matter what job you had, if you did your best then she was proud of what you did.”

When McCallion first became mayor of Mississauga in the late 1970s, Peter said that despite the increasing workload, his mother always made time for her children.

“Obviously when she got to Mississauga it was a lot bigger, but she still came home at the time and made dinner,” he said.

“She did a lot for us”

Both Peter and Burgess said they had time to prepare for McCallion’s death and were relieved she was no longer in pain.

“She’s with my dad now, so they’re back together. She missed him very much. She really loved him,” Burgess said.

“Someone asked her if she would marry again, [and she said] ‘I married the first time for love, the second time will be for money and I haven’t found anyone rich enough.’”

Although McCallion’s physical health had deteriorated in recent months, Burgess and Peter say their minds were as sharp as ever until the very end.

She says she has enjoyed the many visits she has had from friends over the past few days, including Premier Doug Ford and Mayor John Tory.

“[She was] quick as a flash. She kept talking about politics [and] She knew everyone and she was really lucky to have amazing friends who wanted to see and pay their respects,” Burgess said.

“[John] Tory was here. She taught him how to run the city,” added Peter.

“Which is normal, it would be unusual if she wasn’t. That was wonderful.”

McCallion, who officially retired from politics in 2014 at the age of 93, has been an active member of the community ever since and has held multiple positions in various sectors including post-secondary institutions and the Greater Toronto Airport Authority.

Peter said she was determined to continue serving her community until she could no longer, and that drive kept her sharp and active at such an advanced age.

“She just wanted to get involved, but she wouldn’t stop because if you stop, you die,” Peter said.

“So if you’re busy, keeping your mind and body engaged, you’re going to live a lot longer, and 101 is pretty good.”

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