‘Very generous with his knowledge’
P.E.I. historian Boyde Beck has died at age 56
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.