George's regiment Queen's Own Rifles there to honour him in 2014
George attended BHC Walter Goulding's 106th Birthday in April of 2014. Here he is pictured with CEO Lori Oschefski. Walter passed away a few weeks after this photo was taken.
George smooching his beautiful wife Emma - take by Lori Oschefski after his interview for the film "Forgotten"
George explains why he enlisted in the Second World War
George Herbert Beardshaw
George Herbert Beardshaw came to Canada as a fourteen year old boy, mistakenly believing he was an orphan and that he would become a cowboy. "I was at school one day and they said “How many boys would like to go to Canada? So I stuck up my hand."
George was born on September 14, 1923 in Doncaster, Yorkshire, England. He was the fourth child of five, born to a single mother and a father who was a bigamist. George knows very little about his father, just that he had a family elsewhere. Of his siblings, he only remembered two older brothers, Charles and John. At the age of six, he was sent to the Barnardo Homes. John was sent to Canada through Barnardo’s in 1932 at the age of fifteen and Charlie was boarded out, once again leaving George alone. In 1938 George was also sent to Canada.
He had been in school when the Barnardo Homes inspector came in and said “how many want to go to Canada?” Fourteen year old George wanted to get out of the Barnardo Homes, stuck up his hand. He looked forward to the excitement of an ocean voyage and to becoming a cowboy. Nobody ever explained to him what going to Canada really meant. George, knowing his brother was in Canada already and believing his mother was dead, looked forward to the new life that was being offered.
When they arrived in Canada, the boys were given a list of about two hundred farmers who were looking for farm help. On that list he saw a Mr. Payne who was located in Little Britain. George thought, since he came from Great Britain he would go to Little Britain, and thus his placement was chosen.
Mr. Payne was “ahhhh alright” in George’s words. Mr. Payne told George he was too smart for his own good. George was worked very hard and felt he could run rings around him work wise. George was to earn three dollars a month and was told by Mr. Payne many times that he was not worth it. George stood out from the neighborhood children, who often came to see him to hear him speak and see his different clothing.
George's life on the farm was very a very isolated and restrictive life, he was there to work. Simple activities such as going to a movie was not allowed. Indentured to Mr. Payne for five years, George often ran away. One morning; George, weary of the harsh life, had been up ahead of Mr. Payne. He had milked his three cows and by the time Mr. Payne arrived for work, George had started milking his. George remarked that the cow wasn’t giving as much milk as before to which the farmer replied “if you kept your mouth shut she’d likely give more”. Well, George just stared at him, thinking he’d had about enough. Now was his opportunity to get out of there, he scared the cats away, took the milking pail and set it against the wall. Mr. Payne asked George where he was going and he told him that he couldn’t take this treatment anymore and he was leaving him.
In February of 1944 he went to Toronto to join the Air Force. He was told that because he did not have enough education he would work as a grease monkey. George wanted to go overseas to see his family, he knew by this time his brother Charlie had found their mother. Although she had never bothered with him all his life, George, now nineteen years old, still wanted to see her and joined the army as a means to get back to England.
Once over sea’s he obtained three days leave and arrived on her door, unannounced. Although his grandparents said they were proud of him and that he looked sharp in his uniform, it was like going into a stranger’s home. His mother was very quiet. George avoided discussing why she had given them up, he just wanted to meet his family. He was proud to be a Canadian soldier. George served with the Queen’s Own Rifles reaching corporal status with the 8th platoon. While serving in action near the end of the war, he was taken prisoner of war in Deventer, Holland. After “a bit of a schemozzle” Beardshaw was captured and spent the final 28 days of the war as a Prisoner of War. That was George said “another fine mess.” (Ian Gillespie, The London Free Press)
After the war, George settled in London, Ontario where he lived with his pretty wife Emma. George and Emma did not have children of their own, but enjoyed a good relationship with his brother’s children. Charlie had come to Canada in 1953, married and had two children. Tragically just after his forty first birthday, he was killed in an automobile accident. George and Emma helped the family out a great deal after the loss of their father. George is glad that he came to Canada. Despite his struggles on the farm, he is proud and grateful to be Canadian.
George interviewed in 2016 for the award winning exhibit "Breaking the Silence" located at the Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto
George attended the screening of "Forgotten" a BHC Documentary by Eleanor McGrath. Here he is pictured outside the theater in Hamilton with Eleanor and Lori Oschefski. He was treated to the evening out by Lori Oschefski and members of the BHCARA. October 2015
George speaking with BHCARA member John Jefkins at BHC Day celebration, Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto 2016