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 Frank Lyman Beebe  (1914 - 2008)

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Lived/Active: British Columbia / Canada      Known for: birds, marine biology, entomology, myths and falconry commercial art, painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Frank Lyman Beebe (1914 – 2008)

An illustrator, writer, author, painter, draftsman  and sculptor; Frank Lyman Beebe was born in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada and died at his home in Port Alberni, British Columbia. He was one of the most prolific and published artists in Canada; however there are no major museums that collect his works, no major exhibitions of his paintings, and only a few art reference books that record his name. Beebe’s life and art was in a special category all its own. His distinguished career includes in-depth work in zoology, marine biology, ornithology, botany and entomology; as well as biological warfare, the Big Foot myth, and the arcane sport of falconry. (1)

His mediums included watercolor, gouache*, tempera*, pen and ink, pencil, airbrush*, soapstone, foam, latex, jade and bronze. His subjects were almost exclusively plant life and wildlife – including trees, flowers, insects, amphibians, fish, reptiles, birds and mammals. All of his works were done with the detailed observation and high degree of realism required by scientists, researchers and field identification manuals. The AskART illustration “Great Blue Heron” is a good example of his style. (2)

Beebe was a self taught artist who left high school before graduating. In the mid 1930s he moved to Vancouver Island and subsequently joined the Young Men’s Forestry Training Plan. There he painted pictures of the major forest trees of the province. His commercial art career began with work for the Dominion Insect Laboratory and the Cowichan Fish Hatchery. During World War II, he worked for the Insect and Range Laboratory (Kamloops, B.C.) doing bubonic plague surveys (biological warfare defense), producing illustrations of insects, and collecting specimens. After the war, he worked for the British Columbia Provincial Museum (Victoria) illustrating manuals and preparing museum exhibits (1946 – 1947 and 1953 – 1974); and as the curator and zookeeper for Stanley Park Zoo [Vancouver] (1947 – 1953). (3)

Thousands of Beebe’s drawings and paintings illustrate dozens of books, pamphlets, manuals and magazine articles; some with esoteric titles such as: The Intertidal Univalves of British Columbia, The Intertidal Bivalves of British Columbia, The Lily (Liliaceae) Family of British Columbia, and Barnacles of British Columbia; most with more popular appeal titles such as: The Mammals of British Columbia, Orchids of British Columbia, Guide to Marine Life of British Columbia, The Birds of British Columbia (there are multiple manuals with this title organized by species), Wild Flowers in the Pacific Northwest, Guide to Common Edible Plants of British Columbia, Some Common Marine Fishes of British Columbia, Some Mushrooms and Other Fungi of British Columbia, The Grasses of British Columbia, The Reptiles of British Columbia, The Amphibians of British Columbia, Alien Animals in British Columbia, Wild Flowers in the Rockies, Birds and Animals of the Rockies, and many more. (4)

He is the author of the books: Field Studies of the Falconiformes: Vultures, Eagles, Hawks, and Falcons of British Columbia (1974); Hawks, Falcons and Falconry (1976); A Falconry Manual (1984); and The Compleat Falconer (1992). (5)

He is the author of the published treatises: “The Myth of the Vanishing Peregrine: A study in the techniques of the manipulation of public and official attitudes” (1970) [38 pages bound], “FALCOSCAM: Nineteen Eighty Four” (1984) [32 pages bound], and “The Hoax of the Century: The Endangered Falcon Scam” (1999) [96 pages bound]. (6)

He is the author of numerous magazine articles with titles such as “The Bald Eagle” (Victoria Naturalist, 1944); “Some Native British Columbia Birds” (British Columbia: A Centennial Anthology 1958); “The Marine Peregrines of the Northwest Pacific Coast” (The Condor, 1960); “An instance of piracy by the Red-tailed Hawk on the Peregrine Falcon” (The Condor, 1960); and “Experiments in the Husbandry of the Peregrine” (Raptor Research News, 1967). (7)

He is also the co-author (with Harold M. Webster) of the ‘bible of falconry’ – North American Falconry and Hunting Hawks (1964), which has been reprinted numerous times over almost five decades, and as of 2011 is in its ninth edition. (8)

He was the co-founder of the North American Falconers Association (1961), a charter member of the Wild Raptor Take Conservancy, and an icon in the sport of falconry. (9)

Among his honors was presenting Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, with a pair of Peale's peregrine falcons on behalf of British Columbia. He also received the Founders Fellowship Award, created by the North American Falconers Association in 2008, which honors the two founding members of NAFA… Harold M. Webster and Frank Lyman Beebe. (10)
(1.1) Sources: Canadian Heritage Information Network* data base; “Frank L. Beebe: The Man behind the Legend”, by Bob Herrick, Alberta Wilderness Association Journal, December 2002 Vol. 10 No. 6; the Frank L. Beebe obituary posted online by his publisher Hancock House; and Frank L. Beebe the Artist (1992), by Myron Shutty (see AskART book references).

(1.2) Please note: Port Alberni is on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Beebe moved to the island in about 1933 and lived there for much of his life. His various residences on the island were generally clustered in its southern half and included the communities of Nanaimo, Port Renfrew, Cowichan, Sidney, Deep Cove and Victoria. Sources: Ibid.

(1.3) In the fall of 1967, Kenneth Kiernan, Minister of Recreation and Conservation for the Province of British Columbia, convened Beebe and nine other scientists (including famous Professor Ian McTaggart-Cowan, head of the Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia) to view a film that purported to show the Sasquatch (Big Foot). Beebe’s thoughtful observations reflected on the sex of the creature, its gait, its behavior, its ape-like appearance, its possible food source, and its possible origin; he concluded…  “The sasquatch is a phony and a fake as far as I’m concerned and that’s it.” Source: Bigfoot Film Journal (2008), by Christopher L. Murphy (see AskART book references).

(2) Sources: Frank L. Beebe the Artist (1992), by Myron Shutty; The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar; and the numerous books and articles listed in this biography (see AskART book references).

(3.1) Sources: “Frank L. Beebe: The Man Behind the Legend”, by Bob Herrick; and the Frank L. Beebe obituary (details noted above).

(3.2) Please note: Some of his museum diorama displays can still be seen at the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria. Sources: Ibid.

(3.3) Please note: During World War II, ‘Plague fleas were encased in bombs, with which Japanese troops launched biological attacks on reservoirs, wells and agricultural areas [in China].’ The Kamloops lab, where Beebe worked, was monitoring the rat and flea populations of the west coast to detect a similar attack on Canada and the USA. Sources: Ibid; and “Doctors of Depravity”, Daily Mail Online, March 2, 2007.

(4) Source: Vancouver Public Library Catalogue.

(5.1) Source: Vancouver Public Library Catalogue.

(5.2) Please note: “Compleat” is an archaic spelling of “complete”, it is used in imitation of Izaak Walton’s (1593 – 1683) classic treatise about the art and spirit of fishing titled The Compleat Angler, first published in 1653. Source:

(6) Source: Amazon.Com website.

(7) Sources: The Global Raptor Information Network (GRIN) data base; Frank L. Beebe: The Man Behind the Legend, by Bob Herrick; Frank L. Beebe obituary (details noted above); and British Columbia: A Centennial Anthology [with color illustrations] (1958), edited by Reginald E. Watters (see AskART book references).

(8) Sources: North American Falconry website; and North American Falconry and Hunting Hawks (1964), by Frank L. Beebe and Harold M. Webster (see AskART book references).

(9) Source: North American Falconers Association.

(10) Sources: The North American Falconers Association; and Frank L. Beebe the Artist (1992), by Myron Shutty (see AskART book references).

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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