Pikwakangan – Keith McGuire was known for his love of family, friends and his career as a truck driver and on Saturday it was these same family, friends and co-workers who honoured him with a memorial convoy bearing a very special cargo.

Mr. McGuire, 46, lost his life in a tragic fire on January 4 while asleep in the bunk of the truck he was operating and which was stopped at a location in Madoc.

On Saturday, an urn bearing his ashes was loaded into the back of the lead vehicle in the convoy and driven by his close friend, Andrew Duffy, with Mr. McGuire’s daughter, Sandi, riding along as a passenger. His mother, Claire McGuire followed in the second vehicle and his wife, Amanda (Mandy) was in the third vehicle, followed by 15 to 20 heavy trucks and other vehicles.

At a Celebration of Life following the service at the cemetery, Mr. McGuire’s wife said she shared the word about the convoy on Facebook and through the Leader.

“I told people if they saw it to pass it on. They were more than welcome to,” she said. “I was told at one point there’d be 25 trucks, but then some backed out, so I had no clue how many exactly in the total.”

She said Mr. Duffy had been her husband’s friend for so long she wanted him to bring his ashes to the cemetery for the service.

As the procession was making its way to Pikwakanagan, she said she kept thinking about how many people were actually participating.

“But then I know he knew a lot of people,” she remarked.

She said many of those gathered for the celebration asked her where their joke of the day was.

“That was his job, but I told them if they remembered them, to go ahead and tell it.”

She and Mr. McGuire were married 14 years in 2023, and it was his good naturedness that attracted her to him.

“I thought I made a new friend and I ended up with a boyfriend. That’s exactly how it happened.”  

Mr. Duffy said it was an emotional day for him.

“I’ve known him since I was 15,” he said. “It was the heaviest load I ever carried with the responsibility of getting him there.”

Mr. Duffy, who assisted Mrs. McGuire with the planning of the convoy, talked to some of the drivers, told then what the route was and the time it was to leave the Rush Truck Centre (Formerly Valley Truck and Spring) on Highway 41, south of Pembroke.

“We started on 41, came down to Micksburg Road, passed by his mother’ s house, because this is the route he took every weekend when he was done,” Mr. Duffy explained of the route. “He would park his transport at his mother’s house, follow Micksburg Road down to Mountain, Mountain back to 41, and then Lake Dore Road home.”

When asked what made Mr. McGuire so special, Mr. Duffy said he was “a character”.

“He had a joke for you whenever you needed it,” he said. “If you were having a bad day, Keith was the one to call.

“Give him a call and he’d drag you out of a bad day in a big hurry,” he added.  

Mr. Duffy said his late friend’s number one passion was his family.

“He took care of his wife and daughter, and his Mom as well. More often than not, you’d find him over cutting his Mom’s grass.

“Doing things that needed to be done in order that his family got looked after,” he continued.

Clayton Stanley, Mr. McGuire’s boss for the last two years at Classic Bulk Carriers Inc. in Woodstock, said he will be missed.

“He was an excellent, excellent employee who went over and above,” he said. “Everybody liked him.

“He always had a joke for everybody every day,” he added. “He was a very good guy to work with.”

Mr. Stanley said if he asked Mr. McGuire if he could leave early on a run or work on a Saturday,

he was always ready and willing to comply, no matter what it was.

“There were no questions at all,” he remarked. 

John Denault, one of the other drivers, said he too had known Mr. McGuire since he was about 15.

“I was friends with him, I drove with him; he was just a great guy,” he said of his reason for taking part in the convoy. “You could always count on him for the joke of the day.

“It didn’t matter your mood, the man could make you laugh,” he added.

He said Mr. McGuire took great pride in making sure his truck was always in the best repair possible.

“Anytime I talked to him, if something was broken, he was in the shop fixing it,” he said.

Jeff Bernard, another lifelong friend, said the sense of loss was widespread.

“It’s a tough loss for the community, a tough loss for the world,” he stated. “Keith would do anything for anybody.

“He was one of those friends who you could call up at 3 o’clock in the morning or 3 o’clock in the afternoon, on a Saturday or a Tuesday, and he’d come and get you,” he continued. “He wouldn’t even question it. He was one of those guys.”

Mr. Bernard re-iterated how Mr. McGuire was incredibly devoted to his wife and daughter and his parents.

Weldon Lehman and his son, Adam, of Eganville, were also in the convoy and he said he had known the McGuire family for some time and trucking was really born into his late friend. He said Mr. McGuire’s late father, Allan (Big Al) used to have trucks on the road and when he was hauling for him he’d often have the drivers stay at their place in Micksburg overnight and his wife would have a big breakfast waiting for them in the morning.

“So, it was in Keith’s blood right from the start,” he said.