Robert Burgess

Robert Burgess

Wednesday, August 21st, 1935 - Saturday, April 3rd, 2021
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Our father and grandfather who was so boastful of our exploits, however minor, Robert ‘Bob’ Burnside Burgess, Q.C. passed away on April 3, 2021, at the age of 85. He will be profoundly missed by all, especially his caring and dedicated wife, Heather (née Gates). Bob was born in Peterborough, ON in 1935 to the late Bert and Kathleen ‘Kay’ (née Burnside). His father’s work with General Electric took the family to Québec City where he attended Quebec High. Looking for a diversion, he and his brother Richard ‘Dick’ (Odette) discovered the horses at The Quebec City Racetrack, which would eventually become his biggest passion in life. He then attended McGill University (1957) followed by Osgoode Hall Law School (1961). In the summers while attending university he worked the front desk at The Banff Springs Hotel where he would meet Vera (née Marten) his first wife (1960) and the mother of their five children: Blair (Karin), Timothy (Lan), Pamela (Michael), Stephanie (Stephen) and Katherine (Christopher). He went on to practice law at Campbell Godfrey where he met John Macdonald, who would later become Bob’s law partner for many years and lifelong friend. Rekindling his interest with harness racing, he and Dick would regularly attend Greenwood Raceway where they finally bought a racehorse of their own, Danny Duke. Bob continued to practice law but his ever growing passion for racing led him and Vera to purchase a farm in Campbellville, Ontario in 1975, a town where they lived together until her death in 2009 after 49 years of marriage. Before being made Queen’s Counsel in 1981, he acted as counsel for and incorporated the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association and was instrumental in the drafting of the industry changing Ontario Sire Stakes program which still exists today. His farm would eventually come to be called Cantario Farms Ltd. One of its most noted achievements was the acquisition and syndication of the Hall of Fame stallion Balanced Image whose progeny carried the flag for Ontario racing internationally. In the successive years he would go on to own several champion horses raced by his son Blair, who would later join him in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame after his own induction in 2011. Their exploits included a trotting Triple Crown and victories in two Hambletonians – and also three Canadian and two U.S Horses of the Year. Additionally, Bob was President of the Canadian Standardbred Horse Society, a long time Director of the Woodbine Entertainment Group (Ontario Jockey Club) and a Director of Contrans Corp. In 2010, Bob remarried to Heather, a fellow Quebec High graduate. Bob never stopped practicing law and concentrated his efforts later in life on being an advocate for his fellow horse people. Despite his busy life he still found the time to play golf which he loved immensely and shared the passion with his grandsons. An avid reader who was still sharing books with Heather until he died, he also loved cinema, jazz, baseball and took great pride in supporting his 17 grandchildren in all their pursuits: Sarah, Caitlin, Emma, Taylor, Julia, Linnéa, Hannah, Cameron, Heidi, Justin, Kathleen, Isabelle, Thomas, Lilly, Mae, Ava, and Peter. Bob also leaves his sister- in-law, Vera (Carl, deceased), close friend and brother-in-law, Bruce (Mary), Heather’s sons Cliff (Angela) and Scott, and two great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by sister-in-law, Eva (George, deceased).
A small private family service was held. A Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date. Donations may be made in Bob’s name to the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society (
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Service Details

  • Interment

    St. David's Church Cemetery
    130 Main Street North
    Campbellville, Ontario
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


Donations are being accepted for: Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society.


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Doug and Doreen Nash

Posted at 09:07am
To Heather, Blair, Tim, Pam, Stephanie & Katherine and all your families: We are so sorry to hear of the passing of Bob. He will truly be missed. Please accept our deepest condolences.
Doug and Doreen Nash

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