Robert Earl Beamish was an eminent Canadian cardiologist, the founding director of the Manitoba Heart Foundation. He was born in Shoal Lake, Manitoba, and educated at Brandon College and the University of Manitoba. After junior appointments in Winnipeg he served two years in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, from 1944 to 1946.
He travelled to the UK on a Nuffield dominion travelling fellowship. He worked at the Hammersmith Hospital and later became a registrar at the National Heart Hospital. While in England, he obtained his membership of London and Edinburgh Colleges.
On his return to Canada he 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, but also retained his interests in teaching and research. He was appointed professor emeritus in 1989 and received honorary degrees from both Brandon University and the University of Manitoba.
Beamish was a founding director of the Manitoba Heart Foundation and served on its medical committee for over 30 years. He also chaired the medical advisory committee of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (1970 to 1972). He was a member of the council of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society for many years and served as secretary-treasurer and later president (from 1968 to 1970). He served as president of both the Manitoba Medical Association and the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons.
He 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 also involved in other charitable organizations in Canada. He was a member of the United Nations Association in Canada and served as its national president. 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 cardiovascular sciences section of the St Boniface General Hospital Research Centre, where he worked closely with 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 his longstanding interest in the history of medicine, culminating with the publication, co-authored with Ian Carr, of Manitoba medicine - a brief history (Winnipeg, University of Manitoba Press, 1999).
In recognition of his achievements and contributions, he was awarded the Order of Canada in 1990 and the Order of Manitoba in 2000.
[Winnipeg Free Press 21 Feb 2001; Winnipeg Free Press 2 March 2001]