101-year-old known as ‘Hurricane Hazel’ signs up to run Toronto Airport

Former mayor had dabbled in engineering and professional hockey before her career in politics and airport management

Lucy Thackray
Tuesday 12 April 2022 15:49 BST
‘Hurricane Hazel’ retired as mayor at 93 but is still working hard
‘Hurricane Hazel’ retired as mayor at 93 but is still working hard (Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA))

An energetic 101-year-old former mayor has just signed up to another three years running Canada’s biggest airport.

Hazel McCallion - known as “Hurricane Hazel” - retired at 93 from her role as the mayor of Canadian city Mississauga, after 36 years in office.

Now she has renewed her contract as director of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA), as well as staying on as special advisor to the University of Toronto Mississauga.

The GTAA runs Toronto Pearson Airport, Canada’s largest aviation hub which typically sees around 50 million passengers a year.

“I am pleased that Ms McCallion has accepted to continue to serve the Greater Toronto Airport Authority,” said the country’s federal transport minister, Omar Alghabra.

“She has dedicated more than 40 years of service to her community and continues to play an important role in overseeing and guiding Canada’s largest airport.”

Ms McCallion already has a school, a library, a baseball team and a parade named after her in the state of Ontario. February 14 is also “Hazel McCallion Day” throughout the state.

At her 100th birthday celebrations last year, the Ontario premier Doug Ford praised her as an “icon of Canada”, saying “I love her, she’s a mentor and she’s taught me so much and she’s always there for everyone”.

Earlier in her career, Ms McCallion worked in engineering and played professional hockey.

According to her biography on the University of Toronto Mississauga website, “Outside the political arena, McCallion is also a hockey fan and player. In 1940, McCallion joined the Women’s Professional Hockey League where she was known as a ‘fast skater and hard shot’, according to the Montreal Star, and she lost two teeth during a game.

“She was inducted into the Mississauga Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and received Hockey Canada’s Female Breakthrough Award in 2007.”

Tom Urbaniak, a local professor and author of a biography about Ms McCallion, told The Guardian that Hurricane Hazel had had some dust-ups with the airport management in the past.

“She will stay active as long as she can,” he said. “But she was famously in a years-long running battle with the former head of the airport authority. He thought he would get the better of Hazel McCallion. And he didn’t.”

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