The following is a short biography of Charles Baker and a history of the Settlement of Kindersley, Saskatchewan, Canada, as written by Clarke & Marion Baker of Vancouver, British Columbia:



                In the summer of 1906, the following group of men from the Brethren In Christ Church (then known as Tunkards) - Elder Isaac Baker & Bishop Charles Baker of Collingwood accompanied by William Hahn of Delisle & Sam Swalm of Regina - made the first democrat trip into the Merrington district (a few miles north of Kindersley) looking for homestead lands for their friends, and to establish a church.


                During the trip they nearly died of thirst as they could find no water. Finally, they decided to let the horses have their heads and as a result, were lead to Eagle Lake where they found a good refreshing spring and plenty of grass. Isaac Baker & Charles Baker returned to Ontario later that year.


                In June of 1907, the following party arrived in Saskatoon via train from the East - Messrs. J.C. Baker, F.N. Baker, F.V. Copeland, H. Winger, W. Carter, G. Sheffer, & C.W. Baker (father of Clarke & Marion - see top). As Saskatoon was the end of the rail at that time, supplies had to be bought so the homesteads could be built. Among the provisions was a load of lumber for homes.


                On July 12, 1907 the caravan arrived at the homestead of Mr. & Mrs. Isaac Baker, having travelled over the Old Bone Trail to the Merrington district. "I can recall Dad saying the sun was shining, the grass lovely and green, and the pure white bones of many buffalo added a touch to the scenery seeming to accentuate it's beauty."


                C. W. Baker's homestead was two miles further west and Messrs. Winger, Sheffer and Carter accompanied him and stayed for the night in his tent, which was the first "home" on the homestead. The following day, they all accompanied each other to locate their homesteads. The homestead maps of those days showed a proposed railway line to run across C.W.'s land.


                With the lumber brought from Saskatoon, C.W. started to erect his new home. No sooner had he completed his building, when a high wind scattered it across the prairie. He immediately set to work to build himself a sod shack.


                C.W. (25 years old at this time) was selected to be the postmaster for the Merrington district but, as he returned East that fall, the post office was moved to Isaac Baker's for the winter. Mail delivery in those days was very slow as it was carried via team in relays. It would take a week to arrive from Saskatoon, but would take six or seven weeks to go out, thus many travellers on the trail would carry the mail. The mail service, along with bringing in supplies, supplemented the income of many homesteaders.


                The following year, C.W. returned to his homestead and assumed the duties of Postmaster once again. During one of his trips to Saskatoon to purchase more land, the land agent did not show up, so C.W. used the money to buy extra supplies. With this stock loaded on a stone boat pulled by one oxen and one horse, he headed back to his homestead. On May 16, 1909 he opened his first store in a sod shack, with his first customers being Henry & Albin Winger.


                During the treks across the prairie, to entertain himself he would compose poetry. (Writers Clarke & Marion Baker had one entitled O Prairie Land which he put to the tune of O Beulah Land.)


                The rail now being extended to Zealandia meant a shorter haul for supplies. During one of his stopovers there, he met his future wife who was teaching there at the time. This courtship started via stone boat before he later acquired a buggy. Her family was at Speers which is about 50 miles east of Battleford.


                C.W. often recalled that on July 1, 1909 a picnic was held on the grounds of his store. There were upwards of 160 people who came to enjoy games and dancing, with lumber for the dance floor being brought in from Zealandia. Quite a few came from a distance of 25 miles or more with oxen, and everybody enjoyed themselves. Hospitality in those days was a key note to prairie living and neighbours always extended a helping hand to each other.


                When the rail line reached the district in the fall of 1909, it was located four miles south of C.W.'s homestead. In this area a tent town had been set up in anticipation of the railway selling town lots.


                On October 7, 1909 the first lots were put up for sale. C.W. bought his that day and immediately made plans to build. In the course of a month, he was able to move his Merrington business to his new location. The building was 24' X 40' and still remains part of the present building. The store still retains the metal cladding on the exterior and the designed metal square sheets on the ceiling, which was a popular decor of that era.


                Groceries was the big item then, so they were placed at the front as well as occupying the whole north side. Shoes were on the back shelves while a line of staple dry goods occupied most of the south shelves.


                Among C.W.'s many tales of his experiences of the early west, it appears C.W. and a few of the boys went shooting to Teo Lake one day in the fall of 1911. As is often the case, they got no ducks, however, the story goes that they did get a jack rabbit. They met up with Chief Thunderchild and some of his braves from the Stony Creek reserve near Battleford, and having a camera along, coaxed for a picture without avail. C.W. thought of the rabbit and gave it to them and the braves had a happy change of thought and agreed to a picture. C.W. used to develop his own tin types and snapshots, thus giving us pictures of those pioneer days.


                On the first day the town lots were up for sale, the C.N.R. (Canadian National Railway) realized sales of over $60,000, with the most expensive lot selling at $1,200 to the Seymour Hotel. Thus, prospects for the town appeared very bright. C.W. was a spokesman for a group trying to persuade the C.N.R. to call the new townsite Merrington, but as Sir Robert Kindersley was a heavy stockholder in the railway, the company favoured the name Kindersley, as it was the first divisional point between Saskatoon & Calgary. During the year 1909, the hamlet of Kindersley was incorporated into a Village and the first council consisted of C.W. Baker, C.F. Rutley and Pete Reid.


                Charles W. Baker and Isabel Burke were married in February of 1910 and Isabel was the first bride to take up residence in the town. The townspeople held a chivari for them which was long remembered. Their first home in Kindersley was above the store, where many of the family were born.


                C.W. was a great community supporter and was forever seeking ways and means to promote the town. On the couple's 50th anniversary in 1960, the people of the community honoured them. Among the honours was a park to be named Baker Park and within this park is the museum dedicated to the early homesteaders.


                Charles is a descendant of Samuel Baker & Catharine Doner, which is where he makes
a connection to my branch of the tree. Please feel free to forward my e-mail address to any descendants you may know, in hopes of updating my information. One of his grandchildren is Bill Baker, Saskatchewan Roughriders' All-Star defensive end (1972). The family operated Baker Fine Furs, but I don't know if it is still in operation. If you know anyone with the following surnames, I'd interested to hear from them          ..





Perry Doner,
Vernon B.C.

Submitted by
From: "Perry Doner"
Subject: Charles W. Baker
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 17:12:10 -0700

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