Memorable Manitobans: George Hutchinson Beckford (1890-1976)
Porter, labour leader.
Born and raised in Spanish Town, Jamaica, he came to Winnipeg in 1913 where he worked as a chauffeur and taxi owner/driver before being drafted into the military in 1917. He served with the Commonwealth War Graves Detachment which had the unenviable task of combing the First World War battlefields to find and repatriate the remains of tens of thousands soldiers that had gone missing.
When he returned to Winnipeg, he worked for a time as a mechanic before beginning a career as a porter with the Canadian National Railway. Through the 1940s and 1950s, he held numerous executive positions with the Order of Sleeping Car Porters (OSCP), later known as Division 130 of the Canadian Brotherhood of Railway Employees, and the Winnipeg Labour Council. He described his personal pursuits as being “a student of political history, economics, psychology and public speaking.” This made him a popular and sought-after member of Winnipeg’s labour community. He was a frequent public speaker on topics such as the Worker’s Compensation Board and was appointed to the Winnipeg School Division’s advisory committee on what would become Tec Voc High School. In 1948 and again in 1949, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on city council under the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation banner.
On 3 August 1928, he married Norean Ryan at Winnipeg. They had no children.
He died at the Deer Lodge Hospital on 20 Febuary 1976, at the age of 86.
Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Six candidates indicate hard fight in ward 3,” Winnipeg Free Press, 21 October 1949, page 3.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 17 February 1976, page 36.
This page was prepared by Christian Cassidy.
Page revised: 5 September 2016
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