Born: July 1, 1931 (Windsor, Ontario)
Died: November 23, 2014 (Kanata, Ontario)
Member: Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame (2009)
Bob Ferguson was a veteran Ottawa sportswriter who wrote “Who’s Who in Canadian Sport,” an essential encyclopedia to be found in every public library in the land.
The book was originally published by Summerhill Press in 1985. The fourth edition was released by Fitzhenry & Whiteside in 2005, by which time Ferguson and his research team had identified about 5,000 athletes and sporting figures worthy of inclusion. These ranged from two-time Olympic sailor Bill Abbott Jr. to football’s Joe Zuger.
The project’s intent was to help preserve Canada’s proud sporting legacy.
Ferguson, who was born on Dominion Day, 1931, at Windsor, Ont., worked as a singer and bank teller before becoming a sports writer with the London Free Press. He also did colour commentary for radio station CFPL during broadcasts of Intercounty Baseball League games. Pressed into service as league statistician, Ferguson wound up owing the London Majors team for two years after putting down a $50 deposit to ensure the franchise did not lose its spot in the league. After two years, he talked a local car dealership into taking the team off his hands.
Ferguson joined the Ottawa Citizen in 1967, covering all manner of sports, from high school events to the Montreal Expos, before retiring in 1996. He served on the boards of several halls of fame, most notably including Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
“I’ve probably covered every sport played by the best and the worst, and sometimes the ones played by the worst were the best,” he told the Citizen in 2009. “They were genuine.”
In 2005, Ferguson received the inaugural award for lifetime achievement from the Ottawa Sports Award committee for his 44-year career. The award is named for Ernie Calcutt, Eddie MacCabe and Brian Smith. Four years later, the sportswriter was inducted into the Ottawa Sport Hall of Media as a builder in the media category.