End of an era: Mr. David Beeston ’76 retires

Darius Martin ’24

Donovan Martin ’22
Deputy Editor

In mid-January of 2021, celebrated teacher Mr. David Beeston retired from St. Paul’s High School. Mr. Beeston graduated from St. Paul’s in the class of 1976, returning a few years later to teach English at the school. As the years went on, his mark on the school grew. Over the past 38 years, Mr. Beeston was an exemplary educator, leader, director, and so much more.

Before St. Paul’s, Mr. Beeston started his career teaching English as a second language in places like Nepal and Abu Dhabi. When he inevitably came back to Winnipeg, he continued to teach English here. But Mr. Beeston did not limit his teaching to explaining literary devices. Instead, he proposed to Mr. Lewin a new grade ten course called Mass Media. In it, he educated students about how pieces of media are created and how commercials take advantage of the naive consumer, all while repeating renowned Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s phrase: “the medium is the message.”

Full of hutzpah and passion, he’d explain concepts in a way that no other person could replicate. One piece of motivation he gave to his students in hope that they would do well on his exam was a pocket-sized black and white photo of himself. For those who did exceptionally well, he gave them another small portrait of himself but in colour. To this day, many students still have their “pocket Beestons” with them.

Mr. Beeston also led the Christian Service program at St. Paul’s. Part of the grades ten, eleven, and twelve religion courses, the program asks students to fulfill one of the Grad at Grad principles: to be loving. With a chipper attitude, he’d explain to each grade ten class at the start of the year the purpose of the activity as well as give a refresher to those who had forgotten in the later grades. He brought passion to the program and encouraged students to volunteer in our community. And when the Christian Service hours were due, he’d roam the halls like a boisterous 1920s paperboy, exclaiming, “Christian Service here! Hand in yer Christian Service here!”

Mr. Beeston (seated behind the steering wheel) was involved in dramatics since his days as a student. Teahouse of the August Moon Stage Crew, 1974, SPHS Archives

 But what Mr. Beeston is likely best known for is his contribution to the St. Paul’s Dramatic Society. Mr. Beeston’s work in writing and directing plays—specifically his dinner theatres—made him a legend in the SPHS drama community. His expert casting choices paired with his can-do attitude lead to phenomenal performances. Mr. Beeston’s most recent productions include Fools, Evildoin’ at the Eldorado, and Treachery, Treason, and Treasure. If it weren’t for the pandemic, we would’ve seen The Quest for Merlin’s Magic, a tortuously hilarious comedy about a wizard developing his skills in a fantastical world.

Mr. Beeston wrote and directed St. Paul’s annual dinner theatres, including this one in 2016. Evil Doin at the El Dorado, 2016, SPHS Archives

Darius asked Mr. Beeston if he would have still retired even if there was no COVID-19. He said that he had planned on finishing the year before travelling the world with his wife. His decision to retire early was because he did not enjoy teaching online and not being able to do drama or interact with his students was taxing. He plans to spend more time with his family and travel the world.

Mr. Beeston’s impact on the school will not be forgotten; we will miss his presence, enthusiasm, and spirit. From all St. Paul’s staff, students, alumni, volunteers, and actors: thank you, Mr. Beeston.

A few students shared their thoughts:

“The best analogy I can come up with for Mr. Beeston is Doc Brown from Back to the Future. Curious, respected, and acting with unparalleled enthusiasm.”

Tommy Feldman ’20

“Mr. Beeston has an infectious passion for theatre. He demonstrates that you must embrace a little ‘crazy’ to reach genius talent. Thank you, sir, for all you taught me about humour, punctuality, and the two-step.”

Grace MacPherson, actor

“A fantastic director and creative writer, Mr. Beeston always took the time to walk each actor through their part, ensuring the show would be the best it could be. I always looked forward to seeing what props he’d come up with; they were a nice touch that showed the attention to detail in his work.”

Navin Vanderwert ’20

“Whether it was media class or drama, he always had so much enthusiasm in everything he did. He often walked back and forth while emphasizing different ideas, especially ‘the medium is the message.’”

Eli Kitching ’20

“I remember Mr. Beeston as the bright smile at the end of the hall! Mr. Beeston knows how to help you succeed. All the best in retirement and promise you will come back to see the dinner theatres; they won’t be the same without you!”

Chance Sabados ’19

Photo credits:

  1. Teahouse of the August Moon Stage Crew, 1974, SPHS Archives
  2. Evil Doin at the El Dorado, 2016, SPHS Archives

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