Last year, Toronto Waterfront Magazine launched their first annual Waterfront Awards honoring women that have made great strides of achievement in the GTA. It was based on 15 categories of recognition.

Their top award for Lifetime Achievement went to the well-deserved and admired “Hurricane” Hazel McCallion. The evening proved to be one of glitz, glam, and prestige, especially with the presence of the vibrant Hazel McCallion taking the stage. There was dancing to the beat of live drums that had everyone up on their feet, cheering and clapping thus setting the tone for the entire evening.

A year has passed, and Toronto Waterfront is gearing up for their second annual 2019 awards. I had the pleasure to follow up with Hazel at her office, where she is President of the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association. Hazel has since turned 98 and continuing to build her legacy of trailblazing leadership. As Mississauga’s former mayor of 36 years, Hazel was far from laying her hat down. She dove into her current positions that occupy her time, sitting on multiple advisory boards and being appointed as Chancellor of Sheridan College.

Hazel McCallion

As the Waterfront Awards stands out for recognizing women, I had an exclusive conversation with Hazel on what being a woman in leadership means and how she defines her success. I wanted to uncover the secret power of the “Hurricane” to share with other women. It was fascinating how she humbly spoke of her success, contributing her entire career to three simple words – confidence, consistency, and purpose. As she spoke about her childhood; in helping her father count fish, working on the family farm, and the progression into adulthood, without a formal higher education, you get a glimpse on the making of a “Hurricane.” Then how she inevitably becomes mayor. She reiterated many times, the need to be good at what you do and do it with purpose. This has led to a series of profound Hazel-isms that, I felt, would truly inspire women to adapt to their quest for greatness as leaders.

In her words: “If I decide I want to be a part of something then I don’t just participate I become the best at it. I am confident to know that I can be great at what I set my mind to. This is how I became the first female president of the Anglican Young People’s Association. They had never had a female president before, and I made that happen, which I am very proud of.”

“You have to do your homework in life and be consistent at it. If you want to be successful then you have to know what it takes, what is needed of you, what risks you will need to overcome, then you need to keep doing it. Be consistent when you set your mind to a career goal.”


“Be a team player; you can’t go at things alone. You need to develop respect, and you do that by being good at what you do. Women sometimes have a harder time in the corporate world trying to get ahead. You can’t get caught up in trivial things; you need to stay focused and work hard. In my career, I owe many thanks to men that saw how good I was at my job and would go out of their way to enhance my career. I earned that respect with confidence and consistency.”

“I made a decision early in my life that I would serve the community. I knew that no matter what I did, I wanted to have a purpose. My career gave me the opportunity to be of service to the people of Mississauga. It was never about me. I could have advanced my career in politics, but I knew that staying mayor would leave the greatest legacy in my life. I honestly can say that I can look at Mississauga and see the wonderful city, it has become, It was because of the good people I had the pleasure to work with and the consistent vision and dedication we had to stay debt-free in our growth.”

Hazel McCallion, is, without doubt, a woman in leadership that has earned every iconic title given to her from Hurricane to Trailblazer. At 98 years of age, Hazel continues to serve on boards and provide outstanding leadership in politics and business. She is honored to have been the 2018 Waterfront Lifetime Achiever. Her final remarks attributing to her own personal success “As a woman, set your mind to who you want to be, what kind of legacy you want to leave behind. When you know your purpose, work hard, and have no regrets.”