Group Pushes for Very Unusual Honour for Hazel McCallion

Hazel McCallion was—and remains—a lot of things.

One of Canada’s most iconic mayors, the 97-year-old powerhouse held the City of Mississauga’s top job for a whopping 36 years. First elected in 1978, McCallion (lovingly known as Hurricane Hazel) served as mayor until her retirement in 2014.

When she decided not to pursue yet another term in office, she was a shocking (and admirable) 93-years-old.

But while McCallion has been honoured quite frequently (Mississauga’s Sheridan College campus bears her name, and Feb. 14 is officially Hazel McCallion Day), a group is pushing for some much more unique recognition.

In fact, a recently launched petition is calling for McCallion to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

This tweet will serve as a petition to have Hazel McCallion inducted into the @HockeyHallFame in 2018 as their first female builder,” wrote Daniel Harbridge, who is campaigning for McCallion’s inclusion on his Hazel McCallion: Hockey Hall of Fame 2018 Twitter page.

People who support the initiative can sign the petition by liking the Tweet, and the results of the petition will be delivered to the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee on May 7.

Harbridge wrote a letter to the committee on LinkedIn.

Esteemed members of the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee, I would like to nominate Hazel McCallion for your consideration for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builders category in 2018,” the letter reads.

“While I recognize that my submission for this year is late (I only recently became aware of public submission guidelines), I think we can all agree that at 97, Hazel McCallion may not have many more opportunities to attend a ceremony where she is recognized for her contributions to hockey.”

“I, therefore, ask that as you make your selections this month, you consider this extraordinary woman who has been a pioneer as a player and builder, creating opportunities for female hockey players throughout her life, tenaciously fighting to open doors that were previously padlocked firmly closed.”

The Twitter petition, which was launched earlier this month, has received 1,300 likes.

As for McCallion’s history with hockey, the sport has long been one of her great passions.

On his LinkedIn page, Harbridge posts a lengthy (and interesting) biography that mentions that McCallion (nee Journeaux) received a pair of skates from her brother Lockhart in 1926. Soon after, she was playing pond hockey with her brother and two sisters.

In the 1930s, McCallion was a star on the Gaspe Coast League in Quebec, a league made up of girls from Chandler, Port-Daniel and New Carlisle.

When McCallion moved to Montreal in the 1940s, she played centre for the Kik Cola squad in the three-team Montreal women’s league for two seasons (1940-41 & 1941-42).

Kik Cola paid her $5 per game, reportedly making her the first-ever professional female hockey player.

Harbridge’s report also mentions that, in the late 1970s, McCallion joined the board of the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA) and fought to ensure girls had equal opportunity to master the sport.

For the next two decades, McCallion and OWHA President Fran Rider lobbied for a women’s world hockey championship and to have women’s hockey added to the Olympic games.

“In 1987, with McCallion serving as the honorary chairperson, the OWHA hosted the first Women’s World Hockey Tournament in North York,” the report reads.

In 1998, McCallion spearheaded the development of the Hershey Centre. As anyone who lives in the city no doubt knows, the Hershey Centre is the home arena for the Mississauga Steelheads, the city’s very own OHL team.

In 2001, Hazel was inducted into the Mississauga Sports Hall of Fame and n 2007, Hockey Canada’s Female Hockey Council awarded her with the Female Hockey Breakthrough Award.

As for who has signed this petition, Harbridge says Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, award winning author and journalist Lisa Bowes, award-winning Globe and Mail columnist Roy MacGregor, two-time gold medalist Cheryl Pounder, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and more have lent their signatures to the cause.

It’ll be interesting to see if Mississauga’s most famous leader gets to experience another high-profile honour.

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