John Ross Robertson was one of the pillars in the early development of organized amateur hockey in Canada. He involved himself in a number of important community endeavours earning accolades and respect along the way.
Although he never played hockey, Robertson became a fan because the game excited him and he acknowledged its pertinence to Canadian sporting life. The future hockey administrator first made a name for himself in the newspaper business. In 1867 he founded the Toronto Evening Telegram. A great humanitarian, Robertson also played a significant role in the establishment of that city's world-renowned Hospital For Sick Children.
As a newspaper professional Robertson demonstrated a strong understanding of hockey. He was steadfast in his conviction that hockey should not be professionalized. When the professional initiative was adopted in 1897, Robertson was elected to the executive of the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA). Through the OHA he was able to nurture and preserve amateur hockey for the rest of his life.
During his second year on the executive in 1898, Robertson was appointed vice-president of the OHA. On December 2, 1899 he ascended to the presidency of the OHA where he served with distinction until 1905. On November 16, 1907 Robertson was made a life member of the OHA. He donated three trophies bearing his name that were to be presented annually to the OHA senior, intermediate and junior champions.
His reputation was still of a high standard when the formation of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association was undertaken. Robertson was made the new organization's honourary president during its first season in 1914-15. In 1896 he was elected as an Independent Conservative Member of Parliament representing Toronto. In 1947, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.