‘Very gen­er­ous with his knowl­edge’

P.E.I. his­to­rian Boyde Beck has died at age 56

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OBITUARIES/NEWS - BY JIM DAY

Boyde Beck is be­ing re­mem­bered as a his­to­rian who was ea­ger to share his wealth of knowl­edge.

Beck died Tues­day at his home in Ca­ble Head East of com­pli­ca­tions from pan­cre­atic can­cer.

He was 56.

“He did many, many things on the cause of Is­land his­tory and her­itage in his ca­reer with the P.E.I. Mu­seum (and Her­itage Foun­da­tion),’’ says fel­low his­to­rian and friend Reg Porter.

“He was very gen­er­ous with his knowl­edge.’’

Beck’s work at the P.E.I. Mu­seum and Her­itage Foun­da­tion ranged from cu­rat­ing ex­hibits at Is­land mu­seum sites to man­ag­ing sites at Green Park, Basin Head and Beaconsfield, to edit­ing Is­land Mag­a­zine.

For al­most a quar­ter of a cen­tury, he shared sto­ries of Is­land his­tory on CBC Ra­dio.

He also penned sev­eral books, in­clud­ing “Prince Ed­ward Is­land: The (Un) Au­tho­rized His­tory” and “Call­beck’s of Bed­eque: A Cen­tury of Is­land En­ter­prise”.

“He was very well suited for a ca­reer in a mu­seum be­cause of his ex­tremely pow­er­ful re­ac­tion to his­tor­i­cal ar­ti­facts and his de­sire and also his abil­ity to share their char­ac­ter­is­tics with the pub­lic,’’ says Porter.

Ed Mac­Don­ald, an Is­land his­to­rian, au­thor and as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of his­tory at UPEI, has shared a friend­ship with Beck for 35 years and says he has made an ex­tra­or­di­nary con­tri­bu­tion to the study, preser­va­tion, pre­sen­ta­tion and dis­sem­i­na­tion of Prince Ed­ward Is­land her­itage.

“Through his pro­lific writ­ing and ed­i­tor­ship, his in­nu­mer­able pub­lic lec­tures, his dozens of mu­seum ex­hibits, his two decades of ra­dio broad­cast­ing and his re­mark­able gen­eros­ity in help­ing other mu­se­ums, her­itage groups and or­ga­ni­za­tions tell their own sto­ries, he has reached tens of thou­sands of Is­landers,” Mac­Don­ald wrote in an email to The Guardian.

“Through his pro­lific writ­ing and ed­i­tor­ship, his in­nu­mer­able pub­lic lec­tures, his dozens of mu­seum ex­hibits, his two decades of ra­dio broad­cast­ing and his re­mark­able gen­eros­ity in help­ing other mu­se­ums, her­itage groups and or­ga­ni­za­tions tell their own sto­ries, he has reached tens of thou­sands of Is­landers. And in teach­ing them to love and ap­pre­ci­ate their shared her­itage, he has helped shape our iden­tity as a prov­ince.” Ed Mac­Don­ald

“And in teach­ing them to love and ap­pre­ci­ate their shared her­itage, he has helped shape our iden­tity as a prov­ince.”

Beck was a true cat lover, adds Porter, with a very sub­tle sense of hu­mour and a re­mark­able ca­pac­ity for laughter.

“He could see the funny side of life and the funny side of fan­tasy,’’ he says.

“He was a gen­tle per­son. He was very in­tel­lec­tu­ally cu­ri­ous. His life was a never end­ing search for in­for­ma­tion and in­sights in Is­land his­tory and her­itage.’’

Mac­Don­ald notes that while his long­time friend was al­ways apt to say that he was merely do­ing a job that he loved and/ or “just telling sto­ries”, yet, from Tig­nish to East Point, North Side to South Shore, he has made a last­ing im­pact on the prov­ince’s her­itage land­scape.

“It is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that Prince Ed­ward Is­land’s con­tin­ued ex­is­tence as a prov­ince will re­quire a con­tin­ued, in­formed ap­pre­ci­a­tion of its own dis­tinc­tive­ness. Her­itage plays a vi­tal role in that process, and Boyde played a vi­tal role in that her­itage.”

Beck is sur­vived by his wife, Anna Mac­Don­ald.

Vis­i­ta­tion is at Belvedere Fu­neral Home in Char­lot­te­town, Sun­day, 2-5 p.m.

His fu­neral ser­vice will be held in the fu­neral home chapel Mon­day at 1:30 p.m.

Memo­rial do­na­tions can be made to the P.E.I. Mu­seum and Her­itage Foun­da­tion or the Pro­vin­cial In­te­grated Pal­lia­tive Care Pro­gram.

FILE PHOTO

Boyde Beck

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