Ottawa broadcasting legend and community leader Max Keeping passed away after a long and debilitating battle with cancer. Max was 73.
Winston Maxwell Keeping began his career as a sports writer at the St. John’s Evening Telegram, eventually becoming the paper’s sports editor. He then moved into radio, and in 1963 joined CTV affiliate CJCH in Halifax. Max moved to Ottawa from Grand Bank, Newfoundland in 1965 to work as a parliamentary radio reporter for CFRA. His ability to break stories helped to land him his first TV job as a national parliamentary reporter for CTV News.
In 1972, after a failed run to become a Newfoundland MP – Max took over the anchor desk at CJOH, Ottawa. His newscast’s dominance was a result of his dedication to hard work and emphasis on rigorous journalistic standards. Under his guidance many young journalists became reporters and went on to enjoy careers at the most respected newsrooms around the world. Max retired from CTV Ottawa five years ago after 37 years on the anchor desk.
As a newsman, Max was one of the best. As a community leader – there was no equal.
Max used his celebrity to support literally thousands of causes large and small. From the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario to step dancing competitions in the Ottawa Valley, it’s estimated that he helped to raise more than $100 million dollars over nearly four decades.
Max was always humbled by the recognition his good deeds received – and there were so many. CHEO named a wing in his honor in 2022. He was awarded the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario. The City of Ottawa gave Max the key to the city. Broadcasters recognized him with a Gemini Award for Humanitarian work. And he received honorary doctorates from both the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.
Max spent most of his journalistic career in front of the camera. But in 2022 he turned the camera on himself by announcing he had prostate cancer. By going public he helped to raise awareness about a diagnosis that was treatable if caught early enough. In 2022 Max’s cancer returned and this time there was no cure.
No one loved children more than Max. Many of the families featured over the years on the CHEO telethon he hosted became lifelong friends. Max never turned down an invitation to visit a struggling child and family at CHEO.
Perhaps the most fitting legacy left behind by Max is the Max Keeping Foundation. It was set up in 1994 to support struggling children and families who had fallen through the cracks. The foundation raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was dissolved earlier this year and turned into a charity managed by the CHEO foundation called the Max Keeping Fund For Kids. It will be used to help families facing extraordinary financial pressures when their child or teen suffers serious illness, disability or trauma. Max’s dissolved foundation seeded it with $150,000.
Max always ended his newscasts by saying, “Thank you for taking time to make a difference in the life of a child.” Max led us all by example.
Max Keeping is survived by a loving family and a community he adopted as his.