Ray Biggart was the Toronto Sun’s very first City Editor

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The Toronto Sun’s first City Editor has died.

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Ray Biggart, one of the 62 original Toronto Sun “Day One” staff in 1971, died on Remembrance Day.

He was 79.

After opening the first Queen’s Park bureau for the Toronto Sun, Biggart left the paper to engage with the entire city, working for the Metropolitan Toronto Government.

He was a true friend of the GTA throughout his working career.

According to his bio on the Toronto Sun blog site , Biggart ran the city’s ambulance department at one point, served as President of the Toronto Press Club and was later head of the Metro Parks and Culture Department.

“I hired him away from the Sun to be my Executive Assistant when I was Chairman of Metro Toronto,” said Postmedia Chair Paul Godfrey, explaining that Biggart worked with him for the 11 years Godfrey was in that role.

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Noting, “Ray was always there,” Godfrey describes his friend and colleague as dedicated, helpful and fully involved with the workings of the city.

“He had a great nose for sniffing out the pot holes on the political road and always gave great advice on how to fix them.”

Godfrey said Biggart was closer to him than any other person at city hall.

“He was a constant guide, whether we were chasing a major baseball team or looking into day care or solving policing problems — Ray was always there.”

Biggart was indeed instrumental in helping bring the Blue Jays to Toronto and later, in getting the SkyDome approved and built.

And, said Godfrey, Biggart was part of the team that saved Toronto’s Santa Claus parade.

In 1982, the Eaton’s department stores decided not to sponsor the parade any more, after having done so since 1905.

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Fred Eaton, then running the company, announced to the world at large that Paul Godfrey was the man who was going to save the Santa Claus parade — which was news to Paul Godfrey.

“There were 30 or 40 reporters waiting for me when I got back to my office,” said Godfrey, laughing.

“I had to think fast to save Santa.”

Godfrey had in fact offered to help Eaton find new sponsors, nothing more, but he rose to the challenge with the help of Biggart, George Cohon, Ron Barbaro and Irv Ungerman, among others.

Within a week, the men secured 25 major sponsors. They did indeed save the parade, which continues to this day.

Biggart’s role in the Santa Claus Parade became a long-term commitment. He served as a Director of the parade for 31 years, retiring in 2013 from the board to become an Honorary Director.

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“Ray Biggart loved the Santa Claus Parade and was a big contributor to its success,” said Peter Beresford, current President and Chair of SCP.

Biggart worked tirelessly as a volunteer behind the scenes to make sure the SCP organization was a success, added Beresford.

“Every year, Parade Day was the highlight for Ray. He’d arrive at 6 am to ensure everything was ready. He served as the Official Starter to ring the bell and start the Parade on his way.”

Ray Biggart is survived by his wife Lorrie, a son and daughter, and four grandchildren.

The funeral is at Smith’s Funeral Home in Burlington on November 15, 2021, at 1 pm;  visitation is one hour prior to the service.   Double Vaccination is required to attend.

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