On Saturday, February 13, 2021, Canada lost one of its all-time best sportswriters with the passing of Frank Orr. He was 84.

Orr received the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award in 1989, the Sports Media Canada Career Achievement Award in 2003 and induction into the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.

He joined The Toronto Star in the early 1960s and spent more than four decades there where he covered the National Hockey League, junior hockey, international hockey and motorsports. He authored numerous books on sports and fiction, forever putting his wonderful writing skills and good humour to use.

The great Toronto Star sportswriter and Sports Media Canada Career Acheivement Award honouree is photographed at the 2014 Achievement Awards luncheon.

“I knew of Frank as an avid reader of his wonderfully written stories in The Star long before I met him,” said John Iaboni, Sports Media Canada Executive Vice-President. “And when I did, it was the start of five-plus decades of friendship and admiration.”

Iaboni (The Toronto Telegram and Toronto Sun) and Orr initially encountered each other covering junior hockey before their days around the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NHL.

“Frank and I were inseparable competitors on the Leafs’ beat for 14 years,” Iaboni said. “But once our stories were filed and our deadlines reached, we wined and dined at some of the finest restaurants on the NHL circuit, sharing stories and laughing well into the wee hours of the morning.

“There were countless movies, live theatres and comedy clubs (Rodney Dangerfield even took a shot at us, imagine that!). Of course, I was happy to be the perfect straight man for Frank’s one-liners and despite being his constant target I got as many chuckles out of his good-natured jabs as those who heard his jokes all those thousands of times. Frank’s influence on me – and all privileged enough to have known him – is everlasting. I consider myself so blessed that our lives crossed paths to the measure that it did because Frank’s life is worth celebrating.”

Orr’s influence on his peers, especially the younger ones who followed him, was well-documented in many tributes to his life and career on social media channels the weekend of his passing.

“Frank treated newcomers to the business with the same respect he paid to his long-time colleagues in sports journalism,” said Sports Media Canada President Steve McAllister. “I’ve read from so many sportswriters about his willingness to help or to drop a note of acknowledgment for a well-written story or column, something he continued to do after his retirement from the Star.”