Barb Beck is the recipient of the 2012 SGS Volunteer Heritage Award, which is given to a person who has demonstrated talent and energy for the development, study, research and preservation of family history and genealogy in Saskatchewan.
“Barbara was selected because of her outstanding volunteer work with the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society, and particularly, the Prince Albert branch,” SGS executive director Linda Dunsmore-Porter said. “She has been with us for a number of years. She’s worked on our cemetery projects. She has really contributed to the success of the society through her volunteer work.”
An email is sent to each of the branches for the annual award. All of the members are asked to nominate someone and the board reviews all of the applications.
Anywhere from three to five people are nominated for the award each year. The only other recipient from the Prince Albert branch to receive the Heritage Award was Leverne Baxter of Christopher Lake in 2008.
“It feels wonderful,” Beck said. “I do all of the data entry for them on the cemetery records … Our group has recorded 134 cemeteries in Prince Albert and surrounding area -- and we read the headstones and record that.
“We also have collected, from the Prince Albert Daily Herald, all of the obituaries from 1982 to date,” Beck continued. “We also collect the ones from the Shellbrook Chronicle and the Spiritwood Herald and the Kinistino Post-Gazette when it was in effect.”
Beck has been a member of SGS for about eight years and serves as treasurer of the Prince Albert branch. While recovering from knee surgery, she became curious about her own ancestry and decided to get involved with the Prince Albert branch.
“I started sorting through all of my photographs and I started thinking about the early days,” she said. “So, I started doing my own research on my own family tree, and that motivated me to get involved on the community level.”
SGS was established in 1969, with a group of individuals helping each other find information about their ancestry.
“They would help other individuals to research their families and it just kept growing from there,” Dunsmore-Porter said. “Each year, there was more interest (shown) by people and it was a way to help educate people as well.”
“The branch is getting smaller and smaller because there’s a lot of information out there online now,” Beck added. “But those of us who are still going to it feel very strongly that, even though there’s a lot of information online, it’s not necessarily always accurate.”
Jim Wilm, chair of the Prince Albert branch, said it was exciting for the branch to have one of its members recognized in such a way.
“It certainly shows that a person like her and our small group are certainly being noticed by the head office of our organization out of Regina,” he said.
“(Beck’s) just an untiring worker. This past couple of years, she has dedicated all of her spare time to the organization,” Wilm added.