Memorable Manitobans: Robert Earl Beamish (1916-2001)
Born at Shoal Lake, he graduated from Brandon College (BA 1937) and the University of Manitoba (MD 1942). After intern and residency training in Winnipeg, he served for two years in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. Receiving a Nuffield Dominion Travelling Fellowship in 1947, he studied at Hammersmith Hospital in London, England and later became a registrar at the National Heart Hospital. While in England, he obtained membership in the Royal College of Physicians of London and also, in the speciality of cardiology, membership in the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. Later he was advanced to Fellowship in these colleges.
Returning to Canada, he qualified for the FRCP, FACP and FACC and served as a physician and cardiologist at the University of Manitoba, the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre, and the Manitoba Clinic. In 1970, he joined the Great West Life Assurance Company, becoming Vice President (Underwriting and Medical). He retained his interests in teaching and research at the University, where he was appointed Professor Emeritus in 1989.
He was a Founding Director of the Manitoba Heart Foundation and served on its Medical Committee for over 30 years as well as chairing the Medical Advisory Committee of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (1970-1972). He was a Member of Council of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society for many years and served as Secretary-Treasurer and later President (1968-1970). He served as President of the Manitoba Medical Association (1970-1971) and the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons (1960) and received Distinguished Service Awards from Brandon University, the Canadian Heart Foundation, the Manitoba Medical Association and the Medal of Service from the Canadian Medical Association.
He was active in many civic activities. He was a member of the United Nations Association in Canada and served as its National President. He was General Chairman and organizer of the Winnipeg Centennial Symposium on “Dilemmas of Modern Man.” He sat on the Boards of Directors of the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre Foundation, the Manitoba Medical Services Foundation, the Medical College Foundation, the Paraplegia Foundation, Brandon University Foundation, and the Board of Governors of the University of Manitoba. He had a long association with the St. Boniface General Hospital Research Centre in the CardiovascularSciences Section where he worked closely with Dr. Naranjan Dhalla. In 1984, he became the Founding Editor of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology and remained as Editor-in-Chief until 1997.
In his later years, he pursued a long-standing interest in the history of medicine, culminating with the publication, co-authored with Dr. Ian Carr, of Manitoba Medicine - A Brief History (University of Manitoba Press, 1999). In recognition of his achievements and contributions, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977) and was inducted into the Order of Canada (1990) and Order of Manitoba (2000). He was given honorary degrees by Brandon University (1988) and the University of Manitoba (1989).
He died at Winnipeg on 17 February 2001.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 24 February 2001, page 58.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 25 February 2021