Keith Hunter leads a charmed life—and he’s devoted to sharing that charm with others. At 90 years old, Keith, a resident at Chartwell Montgomery Village Retirement Residence in Orangeville, is recognized as Canada’s oldest magician.
Keith’s skills of illusion and sleight of hand have brought him from the glamour of Chateau Lake Louise to the neon frenzy of Las Vegas, and placed him in the star-studded company of celebrities like Angie Dickinson, John McDermott and Dave Broadfoot.
The first spark
Wowing audiences across Canada, Keith is a seasoned professional in the art of magic. Though he has the confidence of someone who has been on stage their entire life, Keith only started out as a magician when he was 70. The memory of when he saw his first magician at just 10 years old stuck with him and inspired him to pursue magic during his retirement years.
“I saw him do something that I couldn’t believe!” Keith recalls. “He pulled a rabbit out of a hat.”
Determined to learn all he could about magic, Keith went straight to the experts. He trained under two of the top magicians in Toronto, and then headed to Las Vegas to continue his studies under some of the city’s finest performers.
Keith refined his tricks and routines, and for the first decade of his career did an incredible 100-125 shows per year. He traveled around the country and each summer returned to Roy Thompson Hall for one week to perform in a variety show.
A hometown hero
Nowadays, the charismatic Chartwell resident does about 60 shows each year, continuing to charm audiences with his impressive feats of magic and inspire a sense of wonder, performing at private parties, banquet halls, club meetings and retirement homes.
While magic has taken Keith across Canada, his roots are firmly planted in Orangeville. Well-loved by the community, he has received a slew of local awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from Rotary International (he has been a member of the Orangeville Rotary Club for over 60 years) and was named Orangeville’s Citizen of the Year. Dedicated to the town, Keith performs his magic every Saturday at the Orangeville farmer’s market, and has done so for the last 12 years.
After a career spent performing on world-renowned stages and mingling with famous faces, Keith has amassed a sparkling treasure-trove of stories. He says that his most memorable performance was his first show at the Banff Springs Hotel.
“They were hosting a ski-a-thon and there were a large number of Hollywood celebrities in the audience,” he says. “I was very nervous, but I made no mistakes. It was so nice to see performers of that class give me a standing ovation.”
Jovial and outgoing with a warm, welcoming smile, Keith is eager to share these beloved memories of his magical life with others. But as a strict follower of the magician’s code, there’s one thing he won’t ever share: the secrets to his tricks!