New Brunswick Author Portal

George  MacBeath
Categories: Male AuthorsAnglophone AuthorsAuthors of Non-FictionSaint John River Valley

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George MacBeath received the Order of New Brunswick and the Order of Canada in recognition of his dedication to the preservation and presentation of Canada’s heritage. A graduate of the University of New Brunswick (1946) and the Sorbonne, Université de Paris (1949 master’s, 1955 doctorate), he was the first director of the Ontario Science Centre, curator and director of the New Brunswick Museum, and the deputy minister of Heritage for the government of New Brunswick.

Dr. MacBeath was instrumental to the establishment of the province’s two major living heritage museums, Kings Landing and le Village Historique Acadien, as well as the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick and the Archives Act. He hired the first provincial archaeologists and supported their co-operative work with Metepenagiag (Red Bank) First Nations, which led to the declaration of two national historic sites (Augustine Mound and Oxbow) and provided 3,000-year-old cultural information used in exhibits, publications and films. The Metepenagiag Heritage Park opened in 2007.

Dr. MacBeath has served as chairman of the board for Kings Landing Corporation; a member of the first board of governors of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery; the New Brunswick representative on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada; president of the Canadian Museums Association; founding member of the Association for Preservation Technology and of the Canadian Art Museums Directors Organization; director and Fellow of the Canadian Geographical Society; chairman of the Military Compound Board; and program coordinator for the New Brunswick Bi-Centennial.

Dr. MacBeath has published twenty-nine biographical sketches of exceptional early New Brunswick and Canadian personages, and a school text on the history of New Brunswick. He also published Great Maritime Achievers in Science and Technology, and co-authored A History of the Former York County Jail.

How has New Brunswick influenced your work?

Profoundly so – you know, I’m a proud New Brunswicker. I was away from the province on two occasions. I loved living in Paris with my brand new wife and I unexpectedly got a job offer to come back to New Brunswick. I left Paris with a real feeling of sadness, but once I got back to New Brunswick, life was different – I was able to do things, able to accomplish a great deal. I was lured away to Ontario to become the first director of what became the Ontario Science Centre, then Louis Robichaud brought me back to New Brunswick and I haven’t regretted it a bit.

What is your favourite New Brunswick book, and why?

The writings of Dr. William F. Ganong – he was a botanist by training. He grew up in West Saint John, one of the Ganongs from the chocolate factory in Saint Stephen. He attended UNB, and went on to earn a doctorate in biology from the University of Munich in Germany.

His career was teaching botany in the United States, but he never forgot the fact that he was a New Brunswicker, and every summer he spent months studying and exploring New Brunswick and in the process he became very familiar with the entire province.

He was a member of the Royal Society of Canada, and one of the things that I’m interested in, is – he had the wit to write the postmasters of all the post offices in New Brunswick and ask what each of those postmasters could tell him about their communities, and to ask who else in the communities to contact for more information. As a result of that research he compiled multiple publications about the province, including placenames (A Monograph of the Place-Nomenclature of the Province of New Brunswick), and then another manuscript regarding the history of the various settlements in New Brunswick (A Monograph of Historic Sites in the Province of New Brunswick).

I was for many years on the staff of the New Brunswick Museum, first as history curator and later as director, and one of the rooms in the Museum was the Ganong room. It was named for Dr. Ganong and it is where we housed his library and notes – as far as I know they are still there and available to students who want to study them. I was certainly one of those students. I have the greatest admiration for that man and what he accomplished.

What do you consider to be the highlight of your career so far?

Receiving the Order of New Brunswick – there have fortunately been many honours in my life, but for me that is the top one. I’m also a member of the Order of Canada. I’m very proud of the earned doctorate I received from the Sorbonne.

Literary Prizes

Order of Canada
Order of New Brunswick

Featured Publication

The York County Jail : A Brief Illustrated History

Find this author in the New Brunswick public libraries catalogue.


  • 2008 Order of New Brunswick recipients:
  • Phone interview with Kandise Brown, 31 March 2010.