Ken McHarg, 85, has been a beloved member of the Pointe-Claire softball circuit for decades.
First as an umpire for thirty years, and more recently as “The Can Man.”
“He really is a fixture and he’s kind of like the father figure to many sports teams in the West Island for sure,” said softball organizer Sharon Beaumont.
“He’s a staple. He’s a staple in the community. He’s a wonderful man,” said softball player Valerie Duncan.
For years, he’s gone to games multiple times a week to pick up empty cans and donating the proceeds to charities like the Montreal Children’s Hospital or West Island Palliative Care.
Over the years, he estimates he’s donated $50,000 worth of cans – and he doesn’t just hand the charities a check; he wants to know what the money is being used for.
“I just don’t hand it into the bucket where the vice-president or president buys a new chair with my money. With the Children’s Hospital, they bought a big machine for the kids,” McHarg told Global News.
“They phoned me saying they would like televisions up on the wall for all the kids. I knew where it went.”
In recent years, Ken said he has had to slow down.
He’s had to stay home to take care of his wife, Catherine.
They’ve been married for 63 years.
“I’ve had a couple of heart attacks, four cancer operations, but I’m still here,” she told Global News.
Their daughter, Karen, passed away last November after a long battle with cancer, but the pair couldn’t travel to Calgary for the funeral because Catherine’s health had badly deteriorated.
Now that his wife is feeling better, he said he’ll be going out to the games again.
The players are happy to see him back.
“He’s no spring chicken by any means, and when it comes to him running around in the hot sun for three or four days in the hot sun doing everything he does, it’s just heartwarming,” said softball player Kevin MacIver.
In the face of all the praise surrounding his work ethic and devotion to his causes, McHarg remains humble.
“There are people that have done more than what I have done. I’m just somebody who likes what I do,” he said.