Max Ward, a bush pilot whose huge personality and entrepreneurial spirit made him well known to all Canadians died Nov. 2 at the age of 98. Ward cut his business teeth in the North, supplying mines and far-flung communities with a variety of aircraft and got his start in the international charter business in the early 1960s. His Wardair grew into Canada’s largest charter airline with state-of-the art aircraft in the 1980s and he added 10 A310s to form a scheduled airline that challenged Air Canada and Canadian Airlines in the 1980s. Wardair was sold in 1989 but it set the stage for the modernization of the airline business that followed.
Ward retired in 1991 but never lost contact with those who came along for the tumultuous ride during Wardair’s heyday. In retirement he divided his time between his home workshops in Edmonton and his beloved fishing camp in Kugluktuk, Nunavut, where he would host a reunion of former associates and employees every other summer. He collapsed at his home on Nov. 2 and died in hospital. He was 20 days short of his 99th birthday.