From Scot­land to Burin

Mem­bers of the Beck fam­ily fi­nally re­united


Ge­orge Beck’s 65th birth­day is one he won’t soon for­get.

The Burin na­tive, who cel­e­brated his birth­day Aug. 27, was sur­rounded by fam­ily at the Old­est Colony Trust Build­ing in Burin, in­clud­ing his cousins Moira White and San­dra Tin­kler, who made their first trip to Port au Bras from their homes in Scot­land.

“It is un­real, I am cel­e­brat­ing my 65th birth­day here now to­day and I got the whole fam­ily here, so I couldn’t ask for noth­ing bet­ter.”

Moira’s daugh­ters, Joan Walsh and Morag Beck, also made the trip. For all four women, it was their first time vis­it­ing the is­land.

The fam­ily ties be­tween New­found­land and Scot­land go deep.

“It was my dad that came from here,” said Tin­kler. “He went to Scot­land (ap­prox­i­mately 1943) to join the Navy, met my mom, got mar­ried (and) had a son, Billy.”

In 1945, Beck and his fam­ily re­turned to Burin.

“Mom came back as a war bride,” ex­plained Tin­kler. “They stayed here three years — then dad and mom came back to Scot­land.”

Joan Walsh, Wil­liam’s grand­daugh­ter ex­plained, “there was a time af­ter my grand­dad had died that peo­ple lost touch with each other.”

Walsh said she had tried to find her mother’s cousin, Rod­ney Beck, but was un­suc­cess­ful, “but one of Rod­ney’s re­la­tions had found a cousin of ours in Eng­land and he went through my cousin’s Face­book list of friends look­ing for some­body with the first name Joan, be­cause he didn’t know what my sur­name would be by then.

“And he found me.”

Walsh said she woke up one Sun­day morn­ing to a mes­sage from Beck.

“It was like six o’clock in the morn­ing and I just picked my phone up and it was amaz­ing that he’d been in touch, so we started chat­ting.”

Walsh ex­plained it was a change in plans that found them pre­par­ing for a trip to New­found­land.

“Morag turned 50 in March, and we had been sav­ing up to go to New York for the 50th with some friends, but slowly but surely some of the friends dropped out and it came to just the two of us.”

She said the two had money saved for the trip, “and af­ter Rod got in touch we thought, why doesn’t New York be­come New­found­land?”

She told the South­ern Gazette on Aug. 27 that a fam­ily mem­ber had shown them around St. John’s and Bon­av­ista be­fore they made their way to Burin, where they would be spend­ing two nights be­fore re­turn­ing to St. John’s and head­ing back to Scot­land.

Morag said it has been an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We didn’t think this was go­ing to hap­pen, what ev­ery­body’s done for us, to see us.”

They were even Screeched-In dur­ing a visit to O’Reilly’s Pub in St. John’s, “so we are well and truly New­found­lan­ders now,” said Morag.

They com­mented the is­land re­minds them a lot of Scot­land.

“I’m look­ing at (the) land­scape it’s re­ally sim­i­lar to Scot­land. The weather at this time of year is pretty much the same — it’s un­pre­dictable. We ar­rived on the hottest days St. John’s had in a while, and then we’re in the mist and the fog on the drive up to Bon­av­ista,” ex­plained Beck. “So it feels quite like home and I guess when you’re sur­rounded by peo­ple that treat you like that as well, it does feel like home.”

All agreed it was an over­whelm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence get­ting to re­con­nect with the fam­ily.

Visit to Port au Bras

The vis­i­tors ex­plained one of the things they planned to do for the fol­low­ing day was to visit Port au Bras, the com­mu­nity where their fa­ther/grand­fa­ther grew up.

“I think it will be emo­tional to­mor­row,” said San­dra. “Cause that’s the place we heard about, that’s the place that dad talked about.”

They said they would also visit the grave of their mother’s great-grand­fa­ther, as well as the church where they were chris­tened.

“It is a shame there is no­body of that gen­er­a­tion left,” said Morag, “My mom and aunt San­dra’s dad — all the brothers and sis­ters (are gone). I think the last one was lost four years ago, so we’ve only just missed some of them.”

Ge­orge Beck said it was wonderful get­ting to meet the four women.

“We’re af­ter show­ing them all over St. John’s and Bon­av­ista — now they’re back to the Burin Penin­sula where their roots come from.”


Joan Walsh, Moira White, San­dra Tin­kler and Morag Beck of Scot­land re­cently made their first trip to New­found­land, where they re­con­nected with fam­ily from the Burin Penin­sula.


Mem­bers of the Beck fam­ily gather for a re­union at the Old­est Colony Trust Build­ing in Burin.

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