The news was confirmed Thursday by the Ontario Press Council, where he served as chairman.
The council's executive director Don McCurdy couldn't say what caused his colleague's death, but noted Elgie suffered from congestive heart failure.
McCurdy said Elgie had one of the sharpest minds he's ever seen and was "alert and bright" until the very end.
"You couldn't find a brighter guy," McCurdy said.
"There aren't many people who can be a brain surgeon, have a law degree, at one time he was chief of staff at a hospital, cabinet minister. He just had a variety of talents, it's unreal," he said.
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak also expressed his admiration for Elgie, calling him "a fascinating man and an unparalleled public servant."
"As a parliamentarian, Dr. Elgie was one of the last representatives of a bygone — and arguably more genteel — era," Hudak said in a statement.
"He was knowledgeable, quick-witted and always willing to see the other person's point of view," he added.
Hudak's predecessor John Tory said Elgie — a friend and colleague for more than three decades — wore his heart on his sleeve.
"He was proud of that, I'm glad he did so, and many Ontarians probably don't realize how much that benefitted them," he said in an email.
Tory, who was a top aide to former premier Bill Davis when Elgie was in cabinet, said his friend will be sadly missed.
"If the world had more Bob Elgies, it would indeed be a better place," he wrote.
First elected to the Ontario legislature in 1977, Elgie held the labour, consumer and commercial relations, and community and social services portfolios in former Conservative cabinets until he left politics in 1985.
Elgie, a doctor and a lawyer who represented the Toronto riding of York East, was appointed chairman of the workers' compensation board in 1985, a job he left in 1991.
He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2003.