William Owen Sydney Ballard
Born: November 10, 1946
Died: March 14, 2014 (Toronto)
Bill Ballard was only 25 and a recent graduate from Osgoode Law School when he became a director and vice-president of Maple Leaf Gardens. The reason — he was filling in for his father, Harold Ballard, who was convicted of fraud in 1972.
The elder Ballard, a notoriously cantankerous figure, began feuding with his son after spending a year in jail at Millhaven. The pair had a stormy relationship which degenerated over the years, ending with Bill Ballard being found guilty of assault — and fined $500 — for an incident involving his father’s companion, a convicted fraudster named Yolanda MacMillan, who used the name Ballard.
Earlier, the father loaned the son $5 million — at 20 percent interest — which was used to finance a concert promotions business launched with partner Michael Cohl. In time, Concert Productions International became a dominant force on the rock scene, bringing to Toronto such acts as Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones.
Later, as president of Orion Capital, Bill Ballard was a founding investor in several mining companies.
As a young man, Ballard graduated with an honours degree in geography from Waterloo Lutheran (now Wilfred Laurier University). In his senior year, he was president of the student union, while also playing centre for the Golden Hawks varsity football team under coach dave (Tuffy) Knight. The Hawks made it to the Vanier Cup national championship, losing 42-14 to the Queen’s University Golden Gaels. Before the game, the Toronto Star’s Frank Orr described Ballard as “a tower of strength on (the) Hawks’ offensive line.”
While an undergraduate, Ballard convinced the board of governors to build a new athletic facility. Construction began on the Laurier Athletic Complex four years later. His continued contributions to the facilities and to the development of coaches led to his induction as a builder into the Golden hawks Hall of Fame in 2009.