Former RedBlacks star, Henry Burris, receives the Key to the City


Henry Burris, former Redblacks quarterback, receives the Key to the City from Mayor Jim Watson Photo credit: Ottawa Start

 Henry Burris poses with his proud family Photo credit: Stefan Keyes (Facebook)
September 7, 2017

This evening, Mayor Jim Watson presented the Key to the City to Henry Burris, current CTV Morning Live Host and former REDBLACKS quarterback, at a ceremony at City Hall. The key was presented to Mr. Burris in recognition of his outstanding contribution and dedication to professional sport and his community leadership and support for local charity.

Henry Burris is a former Canadian Football League (CFL) QB who played for 17 years for four teams; the Calgary Stampeders, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Ottawa REDBLACKS. Burris won three Grey Cups, including the first-ever for the REDBLACKS franchise in 2016. Mr. Burris was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player twice; in 2005 and 2015. When he retired, Burris was third all time in career CFL passing yards.

Born in Spiro, Oklahoma, Mr. Burris was a football star for his home state’s Temple University, setting numerous records. He also played for two years in the National Football League with two of its most storied franchises, the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.

Since joining the Ottawa REDBLACKS and making Ottawa his home, Mr. Burris has made a significant contribution to the city. He is very involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters, hosting an annual All Star Weekend fundraiser for the organization and donating countless hours. He regularly attended numerous community events and paid visits to schools and hospitals as a member of the REDBLACKS. He was also the team’s “Tackle Hunger” representative for the three seasons that he played for the team, helping to collect thousands of pounds of food for those in need. Burris remains a big part of the community in his new role as host of CTV morning Live in Ottawa.


“Since the moment he arrived here, Henry Burris has been committed to the City of Ottawa. Henry is a wonderful role model and community leader, and his many contributions – both on and off the football field –have made, and continue to make our city an even better place to live in.”
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson

“It’s truly an honor to be recognized by Mayor Watson for this prestigious award. I believe you can overcome anything in this world with love and support. The City of Ottawa has given that to me and my family. We will be forever grateful!”
Henry Burris

Key Facts

The Key to the City

  • The Key to the City is Ottawa’s most prestigious award.
  • An ornamental key is presented to esteemed residents, visitors and others whom the City of Ottawa wishes to honour. This practice has a symbolic meaning evoking medieval walled cities, the gates of which would be guarded during the day and locked at night. The key symbolizes the freedom of the recipient to enter and leave the city at will as a trusted friend of city residents.
  • Some former recipients include:
    • Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth (now, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II)
    • Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands
    • Author Margaret Atwood
    • Photographers Yousuf and Malak Karsh
    • The Community Foundation of Ottawa
    • Actress Sandra Oh
    • Ottawa Senators former Captain Daniel Alfredsson
    • The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C., Chief Justice of Canada
    • Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek
    • TV and radio news journalist, Michel Picard
    • Carleton University and Algonquin College
    • Former Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser

Henry Burris

  • Mr. Burris has won three Grey Cup championships, two with the Calgary Stampeders, in 1998 and 2008 and in 2016 with the Ottawa REDBLACKS.
  • Mr. Burris won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award in 2010 and 2015.
  • At the time of his retirement, Mr. Burris was third in all time CFL passing yards and passing touchdowns.
  • Mr. Burris played his college football at Temple University where he finished with 20 passing records.
  • He has played for the Calgary Stampeders, the Hamilton Tiger Cats, the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Ottawa REDBLACKS.
  • He also briefly played in the National Football League with the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.
  • In each of his 10 years in Calgary, Mr. Burris hosted an All Star Weekend in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
  • In 2016 Mr. Burris brought his All Star Weekend to Ottawa.
  • The All Star Weekend was supported by members from the Ottawa REDBLACKS football team, the Carleton Raven’s football team, the Ottawa Gee Gee’s football team and the Ottawa Fury FC soccer team.
  • He has contributed countless hours at school and hospital visits, and at several community events.
  • He was the REDBLACKS’ “Tackle Hunger” representative for the three seasons that he played for the team, helping to raise thousands of pounds of food for those in need.
  • Mr. Burris is currently a co-host on CTV Morning Live in Ottawa.


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