Canada’s capital mourns the loss of Max Keeping, a man who was a pillar of Ottawa for decades.
Max was a broadcasting icon and true philanthropist. Originally, Keeping was from Grand Bank, Newfoundland but moved to Ottawa in 1965 to work for CFRA. He worked as a parliamentary radio reporter with CFRA until 1972 when he became a news anchor at CJOH. His charisma and generosity paired with his journalistic integrity made Keeping the most popular evening news anchor in Eastern Ontario.
Having adopted this city as his own, he was unafraid to get involved and help those in need. He hosted dozens of CHEO telethons, he promoted the Salvation Army, campaigned for the United Way, campaigned for the Children’s Wish Foundation and made hundreds of appearances every year for anybody who asked him to. No cause was too large or too small for him to tackle. He supported thousands of charities and attended events for everything from children’s hospitals to step dancing competitions in the Ottawa Valley.
Max was humble about his impact on the community, but he was without a doubt our most selfless community leader.
In 1994, the Max Keeping Foundation was created. His aim was to help support families and children with medical issues who felt unseen. Charities like the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the Ronald McDonald House and the Heart and Stroke Foundation all benefited from his efforts. It’s estimated that with his organization he was able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. CHEO will continue his charity – which this year was renamed Max Keeping Fund For Kids.
Despite his modesty, Keeping had amazing achievements under his belt.
- CHEO named a wing of their hospital after him
- He was awarded the Order of Canada
- He was awarded the Order of Ontario
- The City of Ottawa presented him with a key to the city
- He received the Gemini Award for Humanitarian work
- He accepted honorary doctorates from Carleton University and Ottawa University
- And much much more…
It was only five years ago that Keeping retired from CTV Ottawa. In 2003 he announced to the public that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer but was undergoing surgery. Even during this difficult time, he continued to make public appearances for the causes he felt so passionately about.
His cancer cleared until 2012 when he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. A couple years after that diagnosis there were stage-four tumours discovered in his lungs. Again, even during his struggles he told interviewers:
“I intend on speeding up, not slowing down.”
Yesterday, at 73, he passed away and this morning, Ottawa is a little bleaker. The loss was felt everywhere and people took to social media to pay their respects.
He was a news anchor and Ottawa’s hero for 37 years. RIP Winston Max Keeping. We would be lucky to take even a page from your book. Ottawa would not be what it is today without you. In your own words, “Thank you for taking time to make a difference in the life of a child”…and every adult in Ottawa.
Read tributes from Ottawa citizens below:
“He was a selfless man who loved life – and lived it to the max. There will never be anyone like Max Keeping ever again.” – Carol Anne Meehan (worked with Max for 22 years)
“It wasn’t just about the news, charity work and public service. For him, it was the whole package…and it was huge.” – CTV Ottawa Chief Anchor Gram (who took Max’s position when he retired)
“Max was blessed with a rare gift. He was able to connect with people on-air and in person. I don’t think there was a hand he didn’t shake in our viewing region.” – J.J. Clarke (another Ottawa staple, weather man and friend of Max for 25 years)
“He made us all better story tellers by demanding we do better. He made us better people by showing us the way.” – Michael O’Byrne (CTV anchor hired by Max in 1981)
“We lost our biggest hero today. He has an endless well of energy for anyone in need. He was a man with a great capacity to love. He spoke with his heart.” – Michael Allen (United Way President)
“His legacy is going to last a long time in this city. Our city is mourning collectively. While we offer condolences to his immediate family, his broader family was the whole city of Ottawa. Ottawa has been blessed to have Max Keeping as an important part of its local family for as long as anyone can remember.” – Jim Watson (Ottawa Mayor)
— Elena Iacono (@4epicomm) October 1, 2015
— Heart Institute (@HeartInstitute) October 1, 2015
— Denis Schryburt (@d_schryburt) October 1, 2015