Robert John Keir was born in Port Colborne, Ontario, on April 15th, 1931. While Keir's British grandfather was a professional journalist, Keir himself never recieved formal training in journalism; instead, he developed and honed his journalistic skills through years of on-the-job experience. Keir began his journalism career at an early age as a paperboy for the Globe & Mail. As an adult, Keir began writing for The Evening Tribute of Welland, Ontario, from 1950-1952. It was also during this time that Keir was given the opportunity to work as a “stringer”, writing additional local stories for large media outlets The Toronto Star and the Buffalo Courier-Express. In 1954, Keir became an out-island feature writer for The Nassau Guardian of Nassau, Bahamas, under a six-month contract. When his contract expired that same year, Keir relocated to Sudbury, Ontario. Once in Sudbury, Keir continued to pursue his journalistic interests, covering local affairs for The Sudbury Star from 1954 until 1956. From 1956 to 1957, Keir reported City Hall proceedings for CKSO Radio and Television and from 1957 to 1959, reported these proceedings for The Sudbury Star.
In 1955, Keir was appointed Northern Ontario Correspondent for The Globe and Mail and retained this freelance position for more than ten years. In 1959, Keir founded the Northern Information Service Company Limited in Sudbury, Ontario. As General Manager, Keir played a participatory role in handling freelance news coverage, public relations, advertising, and photography until he ended the company in 1970. In addition, Keir was one of the founders of The Sudbury Sun in 1962, serving as publisher and editor.
By the early 1960’s, Bob Keir had become an active supporter of local interests. This resulted in a shift in career interests, which saw Keir serve as Public Relations consultant for the City of Sudbury from 1960-1961. Keir served one term as Alderman (1964-1965), and despite not continuing as an elected member of city council, Keir stayed on as a volunteer, serving on various community committees (such as the Sudbury Planning Board and the Parking Authority of Sudbury). Keir moved to Toronto in 1970 to work as Senior Communications Manager for the Ministries of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy at Queen’s Park, but returned to Sudbury in 1982 to serve as Executive and Communications Officer for Regional Chairman Tom Davies until Keir’s retirement in 1995.
After retiring, Keir continued to publicly voice his concerns over local issues. As one of seven members of the Greater Sudbury Municipal Watch since discussion of Sudbury’s amalgamation began in the late 1990’s, Keir monitors key issues at City Hall. Other local initiatives Keir has been involved in include the Sudbury Community Foundation (as a founding director) and the Sudbury Regional Restructuring Association (as a founder and secretary). In 1992, Keir was awarded the Canada 125 Commemorative Medal for his volunteer efforts and the Ontario 15 Years Voluntarism Award. Additionally, Keir provides regular published insights in letters to the editor for The Sudbury Star.