02/09/2010 12:00AM

Michael Burns, photographer, dies at 84


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Michael Burns, Woodbine's longtime track photographer who collected both Eclipse and Sovereign award honors for his work, died in an Ontario hospital Monday evening at age 84 after a battle with cancer.

Burns, who was born in Scotland but came to Canada as an infant, started working in racetrack photography in 1943 and became the official photographer for the Ontario Jockey Club when Woodbine opened in 1956.

Burns remained active in his company, Michael Burns Photography, but his son, Michael Burns Jr., handled most of the day-to-day duties at Woodbine in recent years.

After taking home the inaugural Sovereign Award for outstanding photograph in 1975, Burns went on to win six more times in that category, with his latest award coming for 2009.

Burns also received two Eclipse Awards, the most recent in 1997, and was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame that year.

Part of the worldwide sports scene for the past seven decades, Burns was the official photographer for the Canadian government at five Olympics and covered several PanAm and Commonwealth Games.

He also is a member of Canada's Curling Hall of Fame and of the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame.

Burns is survived by his wife of 59 years, Helen; daughters Mary-Ellen and Patricia; and son Michael.

Michael Burns Jr. and Patricia Burns also have won Sovereign Awards for outstanding photograph, as has longtime Burns Photography associate Bob Gilmour.

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. on Thursday at the Turner and Porter Yorke Chapel, 2357 Bloor St. West, Toronto. A funeral service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at St. Clement Catholic Church, 409 Markland Drive, Toronto, with a reception to follow at 1 p.m. at St. George's Golf and Country Club, 1668 Islington Ave.