John Ross Robertson

Section O, Lot 221
Toronto Necropolis

Born in Toronto on December 28, 1841, the son of John Robertson and Margaret Sinclair, Robertson was educated at Upper Canada College (UCC), a private high school in Toronto. As a young man, he started a newspaper at UCC called Young Canada and a satirical weekly magazine, The Grumbler. The Grumbler was published in 1864 in a building on the corner of King Street and Toronto Street in Toronto. The Grumbler was one of Robertson’s more well-known publications. He was hired as a reporter and then city editor at The Globe in Toronto, but left The Globe to found The Toronto Daily Telegraph in 1866. That paper lasted five years, and Robertson went to England as a reporter for The Globe. He returned to Toronto in 1876 to launch the Toronto Evening Telegram, which became the voice of working class, conservative, Orange Toronto. In the Toronto Evening Telegram he wrote a recurring column on Toronto landmarks. Eventually these columns were published in a book called Robertson’s Landmarks of Toronto which consists of six volumes. He was elected to the Canadian House of Commons for the electoral district of Toronto East in the 1896 federal election defeating the incumbent Conservative MP,  Emerson Coatsworth. An Independent Conservative, he did not run for re-election in 1900. The world of sports was also a focus for Robertson’s public-spiritedness. A fervent advocate of amateur sport, he served as president of the Ontario Hockey Association from 1899 to 1905, which was a critical time period in the history of the sport. His battle to protect hockey from the influence of professionalism caused him to be called the “father of Amateur Hockey in Ontario.” During his term as president, the OHA was able to set rules defining professionalism in hockey. He worked especially hard to rid hockey of increasing violence both on and off the ice. Robertson’s donation of silver trophies to hockey, cricket, and bowling further encouraged amateur competition. The championship trophy of the Ontario Hockey League, the J. Ross Robertson Cup, is still named in his honour. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947. He bequeathed his considerable book collection to the Toronto Public Library, founded a children’s home, and left a large annuity to the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, which was built as a result of the fund raising efforts of he and his wife. The John Ross Robertson Public School, an elementary school of the Toronto District School Board is named after Robertson, and is located at 130 Glengrove Avenue West in Toronto. Robertson Died on May 31, 1918.

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