The Passing of Former Mayor Hazel McCallion

by John Lewsen, January 31, 2023

In her tribute to Rabbi Englander on his retirement from Solel in May 2014, Mayor Hazel McCallion commented that she “had the privilege of knowing Rabbi Englander and his wife Cheryl for many years and consider(ed) their friendship a true blessing”*. No doubt, the Englanders and other Solelniks who had the honour of knowing Hazel McCallion personally feel the same way about her.

As Mississauga’s 12-term and longest-serving mayor spanning 36 years, Hazel McCallion had a remarkable influence in the shaping of Mississauga. She was a savvy politician, understood local politics, and always made sure that she was well-briefed. She had a clear vision for Mississauga’s potential as the head office for major Canadian companies and multinational corporations. During her mayoral tenure, from 1978 to 2014 she led the transformation of Mississauga from a cluster of semi-rural bedroom communities to one of the largest head office centres in Canada.

A former hockey player, Hazel remained incredibly energetic. If she was in a room where music and dancing were going on, she would be on the floor dancing and encouraging the rest of us to get moving too. She invariably spoke without notes and exuded a quick shoot-from-the-hip humour. When at age 90, she spoke at Rabbi Englander’s retirement gala, she wryly berated him for being much too young to retire.

Active in the Anglican Church, Mayor McCallion, was strongly motivated by her faith and appreciated the role of other faith groups in Mississauga. She greatly valued the presence of the Jewish community and our activist Reform Synagogue. As Mayor, she particularly appreciated the role of Solel as an interfaith partner and leader in establishing FoodPath, now The Mississauga Food Bank, and the promotion of affordable housing through our Pathway initiatives.

Solel will remember Hazel McCallion for her strong support of the Jewish community. She visited us often, attended and spoke at numerous services and significant celebrations, and willingly lent he name and support to one of Solel’s major fundraising initiatives.

May her memory always be for a Blessing.

John Lewsen
President, Solel Congregation of Mississauga

* Rabbi Lawrence Englander, a Tribute on his Retirement in May 2014, Solel Congregation p86.

Filed under: President's Message

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