Philanthropist Maxwell Cummings, Dies at 103; Supported Many Causes

Maxwell Cummings, a member of one of Montreal’s most prominent Jewish families, has died at the age 103.

Following his death Wednesday, Canadian Jewish leaders remembered him as a man whose list of philanthropies extended far and wide.

“He was the man who brought the community together, physically, in a concentrated way,” said Danyael Cantor, executive vice president of Federation CJA, formerly known as Allied Jewish Community Services.

Federation CJA, along with many of its constituent agencies, has been housed in Cummings House — now called Cummings Square — since its construction in 1973.

“It was Maxwell Cummings who built Montreal’s first dedicated federation building, making it a communal home, not merely a structure,” said Cantor.

In 1973, on his 75th birthday, Cummings and his sons donated $500,000 toward the rebuilding of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. A performance hall inside bears his name.

He also gave generously to the Jewish National Fund, most of Israel’s major universities, as well as to McGill and Concordia universities in Montreal, the Universite de Montreal and numerous other organizations.

In recognition of his efforts, Cummings was made a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Quebec.

Born in 1898 in St. John, New Brunswick, Cummings came to Montreal with his family in 1911.

In 1929, he began a career in real estate brokerage and development. He went on to become a leading developer of low-cost housing in Canada.

He is survived by his son, Robert, six grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and two great-great- grandchildren, as well as a large extended family across Canada and the United States.

His wife of more than 70 years, Victoria “Queenie” Wener, is deceased, as is another son, Jack.

Brothers Nathan, Ben, Ralph, Harold and sister Minnie Abbey all died before him.

Grandson Steven Cummings will carry on his grandfather’s commitment to community service in September, when he assumes the presidency of Federation CJA.

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