Born in Allenford, Bruce County, Ontario, the son of Thomas and Lena (Foisie) McBeath, McBeath moved with his family to Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, in 1892. In 1894, he apprenticed to be a printer. In 1905, he moved to Winnipeg where he entered the real estate business. In 1907, he moved to Vancouver and was also active in real estate.
McBeath was a city alderman from 1912 until he campaigned for the mayor's position. He defeated Thomas Kirkpatrick in a campaign dominated by morality issues.
- "British Columbia from the earliest times to the present". Internet Archive.
- Mackie, John (30 November 2002). "The mayors of Vancouver". The Vancouver Sun. p. B4.
- Vancouver History: list of mayors, accessed 20 August 2006
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