Former CFL interim commissioner heads up Burlington Sports Hall of Fame inductees


Published July 7, 2021 at 3:39 pm


Burlington’s Jim Lawson has been involved in sports all of his life, both as an athlete and executive.

Now those contributions are being recognized.

Lawson, who has made a significant impact in hockey, football and horse racing, has been named one of five new inductees into the Burlington Sports Hall of Fame.

The Woodbine Entertainment CEO, who is heading into the Hall as athlete and builder, will be joined in the Class of 2021 by Sean Foley (builder, golf), Dr. John Kendall (athlete/builder, running), Don Lovegrove (builder, media) and Carol Angela Orchard (builder, gymnastics).

A graduate of Aldershot High School, Lawson played ‘AAA’ midget hockey in Burlington before he was drafted by the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s.

He received a scholarship from Brown University in Providence, Road Island and his hockey skills would result in the Montreal Canadiens selecting him in the seventh round (120th overall) of the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft.

His professional hockey career completed, Lawson began practicing law before he was appointed as the first independent Chair of the Canadian Football League’s Board of Governors in 2013.

He would spend seven years in the position and twice served as the CFL’s interim Commissioner. For his efforts, Lawson was given the prestigious Commissioner’s Award, presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to Canadian football.

“Jim is a great example of someone who has become a better person and a great leader through the lessons he learned as a talented athlete,” said Bob Young, the long-time owner and caretaker of the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. “In turn he has been able to make remarkable contributions through Canadian Football, the Horse racing industry, and a myriad of other projects that have made Burlington, Ontario, and Canada a better place. Thank you Jim.”

Lawson was appointed the Chair of Woodbine Entertainment’s Board of Directors in 2012 before being named in CEO in 2015.

“If there is anybody who deserves this recognition, it’s Jim. He’s always been so gracious with his time, and an amazing contributor to both Canadian sport and the communities in which its played,” said John Fielding, who sat on Woodbine Entertainment’s Board of Directors for 17 years.

“The contributions he’s made to the horse racing industry are unparalleled, he’s just done an amazing job leading Woodbine and the sport of horse racing in Ontario.”

Here’s a look at the other four inductees into the Burlington Sports Hall of Fame:



The Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School alumni received a golf scholarship at Tennessee State University and moved to Florida in 2006 where he began working with Canadian golfer Stephen Ames.

Foley, who has worked with Tiger Woods, began a golf teaching career at Glenn Abbey Golf Club in Oakville and was voted the top golf teacher in the world by players on the PGA Tour.

His current students include Justin Rose, Cameron Champ and Lydia Ko.



Kendall is the founder of the Burlington YMCA Post-Cardiac Club and a co-founder of the Burlington Runners Club.

A recipient of the Queen’s Commemorative Jubliee Medal and the Physicians Care Award.

An accomplished distance runner, he is the former Canadian Veterans Record holder in the 100 mile distance. He also completed a double crossing of the Grand Canyon and competed in the Boston Marathon.

Kendall was also the medical director for the American Marathon Trials, Toronto Marathon and Skylon Marathon.



Known as the “Dean of Amateur Sports,” the Burlington Central High School alumnus had a 37-year career in sports journalism with the Hamilton Spectator.

The award winning journalist was the recipient of the CIAU Media Award and is an inductee into the Mohawk College Sports Hall of Fame, Hamilton Soccer Hall of Fame and the Hamilton Hurricanes Hall of Fame.



The Burlington Central High School graduate is a former member of the Burlington Gymnastics Club.

A highly decorated Gymnastics Canada national and international coach, she has collected a Gold Coach Award for International Excellence, a Women’s Program Service Award and a Life Member Award.

She has also been presented with an Olympic Coach Life Member Award and is a two-time International Senior Coach of the Year.

A respected TV gymnastics analyst, she is also the recipient of the Honourary Diploma of International Coaching, the highest honour of recognition by the International Gymnastics Federation.

All five will be honoured at the Burlington Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 26 at the Burlington Golf & Country Club.



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