Well I guess she is mortal after all.
Upon hearing about her death yesterday, I couldn’t help but search the internet for whatever I could find on her century-long life and legacy. Despite all the conflict of interest claims and her reputation among my fellow planners as the “queen of sprawl”, I do admit she lived a great life devoted to public service and she will always remain an icon in Mississauga. Heck, she’ll even have an LRT line named after her. Her tenure as mayor spanned over three decades. By the time of her retirement in 2014, she had been in that role longer than I had even been alive at that point. She was so beloved by her constituents that she even stopped campaigning for elections.
Believe it or not, she had humble beginnings in Port Daniel, Quebec. Although she never fulfilled her ambition to attend university (parents couldn’t afford it), she began her working career with Kellogg in Montreal and later established the company’s local office in Toronto, where she met her late husband, Sam McCallion. The in-laws, being white and having land to give away, gifted the couple with a piece of property in Streetsville, where she eventually became mayor prior to its amalgamation with four other villages into Mississauga.
For years, she fought for Mississauga to become independent from the Region of Peel – a goal that continues to be pursued by her successor Bonnie Crombie. I wonder if her death provides a little extra incentive.
It’s a shame she didn’t live to see it happen.
It’s also too bad I never got the chance to meet her while I worked at the Region of Peel headquarters, the same building where she served as Regional councillor.