Hugh Cossart Baker was the son of George William Baker and Ann Cole, born June 15, 1818 in the Parish of Woolwich, County of Kent, England. Hugh's baptism was solemnized November 24, 1818 at Saint Mary Magdalene Church in the Parish of Woolwich, in the County of Kent.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Beil
At the time of Hugh C. Baker's christening, his father George William Baker is listed as a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery and his abode is listed as 'Upper Cadet Barracks.' H. Fraser performed the ceremony. He died of consumption on March 2, 1859 at the age of 40, and was buried on March 10, 1859.
Henry Wyatt was born c. 1798 at Broome Hall, Suffolk, England. Henry Wyatt was of Oakley, Suffolk when he married Emma Squibb at St. James, Westminster, Middlesex on November 11, 1823. For more information on the Wyatt family, and the children of Henry and Emma Wyatt, see the Wyatt page of this website.
Henry and Emma Wyatt's eldest daughter, Emma Wyatt was born August 8,1824 and was baptized September 14, 1824 at Oakley, Suffolk, England. Emma was married to Hugh Cossart Baker at St. Luke's Anglican Church, Wellington Square (Burlington), Upper Canada, November 18, 1845. The wedding announcement reads, "At St. Luke's Church, Wellington Square, on 18th inst., Hugh Cossart Baker, of Hamilton, eldest son of Captain G. W. Baker, of Woodroofe, Ottawa River, late of the Royal Artillery, to Emma, eldest daughter of Henry Wyatt, late of Long Ditton, Surrey, England. The Reverend John Gamble Geddes performed the ceremony." St. Luke's Anglican Church stands today as Burlington's oldest church, established in 1834.
When Emma Wyatt Baker died of consumption June 1, 1859, at the age of 34, just a few months after her husband, she left a young family of two sons and four daughters who were brought up by relatives. Letters of Guardianship were filed in 1870 by Henry and Emma Wyatt where they were appointed legal guardians of the two youngest children, Emma Maria Baker and George Percival Baker.
Hugh Baker came with his parents to Bytown, now Ottawa, in 1832, his father being a Royal Artillery captain. George William became a postmaster there and when Hugh was young he worked with his father in this occupation. He soon found work in the banking field, however, taking a job with the Bank of the People in Toronto. During this time, he also became involved with the Home District Mutual Fire Insurance Company, working as a secretary. Eventually the Bank of the People was taken over by the Bank of Montreal and Hugh was appointed the manager of the Hamilton branch. "Conditions in Canada at this time were primitive. Stage coaches were used for transportation in the settled districts, but the farmer had to carry his grain to the mill in sacks thrown over his horse's back. Postage stamps had not been introduced; there was no telegraphic communication; there was only the beginning of a railway; and no ocean steamers had yet arrived at Quebec." (The Baker Family of Hamilton)
"Mr. Baker, an astute banker and mathematician, wanted to insure his life. Upon applying to a British insurance firm, he was requested to go to New York for examination. He decided to comply, and set out on horseback. It was a journey of over 500 miles. After he had crossed the United States boundary he boarded a stage coach and in it jolted day after day across upper New York state, finishing his journey by river steamer down the Hudson; but he accomplished his purpose. Weeks later, upon returning to Hamilton, he determined to form a Canadian company so that all Canadians would be able more readily to secure the benefits which life insurance provides. Had the British companies not considered the climate too unhealthy, a native Canadian company might not have been started. In fact, the British life insurance companies charged their Canadian policyholders 1% extra to cover what they believed to be an extra climatic risk, and they did not seek business in Canada." (The Baker Family of Hamilton)
Hugh Baker believed that by putting together actuarial tables and by directing the premiums he collected from policy holders into Canadian investments that would yield a profit, he could put together a company that would be as profitable if not more profitable than any United States or British firm. He felt if he could achieve this goal, he could then give Canadian policy holders lower premiums. "In 1846 he took steps to organize a mutual insurance company in which little initial capital was required from the promoters, no shares were to be issued, and assets would be owned by the policy holders. The plan won support from a number of leading businessmen in Hamilton, including Sir Allan Napier MacNab and John Young, and the following spring they petitioned the provincial legislature for incorporation. Members of the legislature, however, feared that too much of the risk of this new type of business would be placed on the policy holders and consequently the petition was rejected." (Dictionary of Canadian Biography)
Although he did not possess a charter, he pressed on, organizing the Canada Life Assurance Company as a joint-stock company with a capital of 50,000 pounds in shares of 100 pounds. "A thoughtful and studious man, Mr. Baker gathered around him a number of other men of vision who, with him, pledged their entire wealth and reputations to start life insurance in Canada. In August, 1847, the first Canadian company, the Canada Life Assurance Company, came into being in Hamilton. (Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 3, p. 15) We are told that it was founded on the best traditions of those old British offices which valued strength and permanent success above growth in size. Hugh Cossart Baker, the founder, became its manager, actuary and president--also its first policyholder. The first office was in an upper chamber rented from the Mechanics' Institute, which housed the institutes' library. Despite there being no fees, directors' meetings were well attended. In 1854, to take care of the increasing volume of business, property was purchased in James Street South where the Piggott Building now stands. By 1856, the first Canada Life building was completed on this site. In 1883 the company built and moved to the building on the southeast corner of King and James Streets, later known as the Merchants' Bank and since 1929 as the Birks Building." (The Baker Family of Hamilton)
Once the company was founded, Hugh Baker faced the challenge of persuading his fellow Canadians that life insurance was a safe and necessary hedge against future unknowns. Hugh took out advertisements in newspapers, made up flyers that were distributed and he and his brother George went on a lecture circuit, to overcome the bias Canadians held regarding life insurance. Many people believed that buying life insurance was interfering with God's will, or with the workings of Divine Providence. Below is an announcement that appeared in the Brockville Statesman on September 26, 1843:
We understand that Mr. George Baker, General Agent of the Canada Life Assurance Company, is in town and intends delivering a lecture on Life Assurance (admission free) some evening during this week. As this is a subject which is but partially understood and appreciated, we trust there will be a good attendance.
It should also be borne in mind that the subject is as interesting to the 'gentler sex' as to ourselves; in fact, it is mainly for their benefit that such societies were originally established. Therefore we hope many of them will grace the room with their presence. By our exchange papers we observe Mr. Baker's lectures have been everywhere well attended and have given great satisfaction.
"The charter which Mr. Baker drew up for the Canada Life stipulated that the head office should remain in Hamilton, but in 1899 it was moved to Toronto, to the great sorrow of the older generation who wanted to keep the honour of having the first Canadian life insurance firm in the city in which it was founded. However, as Mr. Byron E. Walker (later Sir Edmund), General Manager of the Canadian Bank of Commerce and a director of Canada Life, said: 'The Company must be in the swim, not out of it. That is the reason why we are moving it to Toronto.' Time has justified the move. A financial institution needs to be close to world markets." (The Baker Family of Hamilton)
Hugh Baker's business abilities, according to the Hamilton Times, were "of no ordinary order" and he "spent much time in the gradual revision of British actuarial tables for use in Canada. In a speech given to the Hamilton Mechanics' Institute April 5, 1848 (and published that year as A Lecture on Life Assurance), he reported that no mortality rates or valuations on life 'had been made in Canada, other than the calculations of the comparative health of British troops quartered in the wide-spread colonies of the Empire.' Baker was the first British North American to be recognized for his work by the Institute of Actuaries of Great Britain and Ireland, which elected him corresponding member in 1851 and fellow a year later. He undoubtedly found this professional contact useful and by the late 1850's had gained a reputation for his 'voluminous calculations in connection with premiums, reserves and bond values.'" (Dictionary of Canadian Biography)
"We are happily frequently reminded of the uncertainty of life;
we know that tomorrow may find some of those now present
stretched upon a dying couch, and that the year can hardly
be expected to pass into its grave, without having previously
seen at least one of us followed to the silent tomb. That one may
have a dear wife and infant children, who may perhaps be left in
straightened circumstances, if not positive want. Let it be supposed that it
was granted to me to point him out, and say to him, that for
2 pounds 4 shillings, he can delay secure the payment to his
heirs, whenever he may died, of 100 pounds to 1,000 pounds--would he hesitate?"
"Mr. Baker was the founder of three building societies in which carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers, and painters, could borrow money at a low rate of interest to purchase building materials. Then, the different tradesmen lent a hand according to their trade, and each became a home-owner. Thus, home-owning was encouraged by Mr. Baker. Many other enterprises felt his helping hand. He was a director of the gas works, and Vice President of the Hamilton and Port Dover Railroad. He was a warden of the Church of the Ascension, and Treasurer of the City Tract and Missionary Society; in 1850 he was President of the Mechanics' Institute; and in 1852 was elected Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries of London, England." (The Baker Family of Hamilton)
Hugh Baker had such a high work ethic and laboured so diligently in his short professional career he literally wore himself out. He had a history of respiratory problems and had been in declining health for some time. To obtain relief, he and his wife Emma journeyed to Savannah, Georgia in 1859. He died there of tuberculosis and sadly, his wife had contracted this disease from him and died shortly thereafter.
Hugh Cossart Baker wrote a letter in 1854, to be opened upon his death. The passages reveal a man who was committed to his religion and to try to live his business life according to the precepts he had learned as a Christian. In one passage he reveals his deepest feelings as to some of his failures as well as gives thanks for his blessings:
"My deepest cause for thankfulness has ever been the influences with which I have been so closely surrounded from my infancy, by means of which under God I have been led unto Him through Christ, feebly at first but in recent years in a steadily increasing ratio. My now blessed mother to whom I owe those first principles which have led me to accept joyfully all the means of grace offered to me, in my inmost heart do I thank and bless her as the means of separating me from the world. From her death it has been my frequent thought that where she is there can I go also if I but follow her precepts and humbly pray for strength to resist all evil. My most happy marriage has also been blessed as a means of spiritual improvement. I was united to my beloved wife in and by the Lord, it was a subject of earnest prayer by both and I truly affirm that in all things we have been truly blessed. Unitedly we have shared many joys and some sorrows but the latter have ever taught us the value of the many blessings which have been vouchsafed unto us. In one respect alone have we failed in a sufficiently intimate union and how I can hardly explain, in the full interchange of our thoughts of and towards God and our hopes of attaining unto everlasting happiness. If longer spared to each other, this must be if possible, remedied, if not, should I be in God's wisdom taken from her now or at any future day without such full interchange having taken place, this record will comfort her and assure her that I have long lived in daily hope of attaining through Christ unto an unending life of happiness to rejoin those dear ones who have gone before me. May it be His will that in the great day of account our family circle may be unbroken that all may be guided through the dangers of this life in humble reliance upon the Christian's hope."
Obituaries of Hugh Cossart Baker
Hamilton, Ontario Newspaper
Death of Mr. Baker
Another of our leading citizens has been taken from among us, in the prime of life and the midst of his usefulness. It is with no feigned regret that we are called upon to record the somewhat sudden, but, we believe, not altogether unexpected demise of Hugh C. Baker, Esq., which sad event took place on Wednesday, at noon, in Savannah, Georgia, whither the deceased had gone for the benefit of his health. Mr. Baker came to this city, we believe, as the first manager of the Branch of the Montreal Bank, and on the establishment of the Canada Life Assurance Company, which he was mainly instrumental in originating, he became its President, which office he held up to his death. The deceased gentleman always manifested a deep interest in the prosperity and advancement of the city; he served as Alderman in the City Council for a short time, and was identified with almost every movement having for its object the furtherance of the City's best interests. At the last general election he came forward as the opponent of the present Representative of the City, Isaac Buchanan, Esq.; and we say it in all sincerity, that whatever ill-feeling may have been engendered during that memorable contest, it was soon forgotten, for Mr. Baker was justly regarded as an honorable opponent, and esteemed as an upright and worthy citizen. In his private capacity, the deceased was highly respected by all, and his loss will be deeply regretted by our citizens. We understand that the remains will be brought to this city for interment.
The Globe and Mail, Toronto Friday, March 4, 1859
Death of Mr. Hugh C. Baker
We regret to announce the death of Mr. Hugh C. Baker, the President of the Canada Life Assurance Company, of Hamilton. The deceased gentleman, who has been for some months in declining health, went South some weeks ago, and we believe, died at Savannah, Georgia. In Mr. Baker, Hamilton has lost one of the most useful and most widely-known of its citizens. Born in England, he came in boyhood with his father and family to Bytown, and resided there until he attained to manhood. While yet young, he removed to Toronto to fill a clerkship in the Bank of Montreal; and subsequently became the manager of the branch of that institution, at Hamilton. In 1847, he projected the Canada Life Assurance Company-the first institution of the kind originated in the Province; and, with the co-operation of resident merchants and professional men succeeded in putting it into operation. From then till now, he has laboured in its behalf with an assiduity, and ability, and a success, which only those familiar with his services are in a position to appreciate. Its President from the day of its formation to the day of his death, we may, without injustice to others, describe Mr. Baker as the prime author of its prosperity. Maturing it in infancy with great constancy and self-denial, he lived to see it strong and thrifty, taking its place amongst the soundest and most beneficent institutions in the country. The talent displayed by Mr. Baker in this connection was known and valued in England; the Institute of Actuaries having chosen him, in his absence, one of its members, and having also, more recently, elected him to a seat at its Council Board. The untiring labour expended by Mr. Baker upon the institution under his care, did not deter him from taking strong interest in many movements of a benevolent and religious character. Warmly attached to the evangelical section of the Church of England, he participated largely in all that pertained to the Church; contributing liberally to its funds, and striving to secure for the laity their full share of influence in the administration of its affairs. In other movements of a strictly local nature he was equally zealous, equally spirited and efficient. At the last general election, he contested the representation of the city, in the Reform interest, against Mr. Buchanan.
The Hamilton Evening Times, Friday, March 11, 1859
The funeral of the late Hugh C, Baker, Esq., took place yesterday afternoon and was attended by a large number of persons. We were glad to notice that the stores throughout the city were mostly closed from three to four o'clock.
Hugh Cossart Baker wrote a diary in 1851. The diary was written on loose pages. Later, Emma Wyatt Baker wrote her diary in a bound book during the year 1855.
The children of Hugh Cossart Baker and Emma Wyatt:
On page 237 of Church Notices from one of the books by Thomas B. Wilson recording deaths - January 1847: "On Thursday, 14th inst., Emma Anne, infant daughter of Hugh C. Baker of Hamilton, aged 2 months and 5 days". Emma Anne was born November 9, 1846 and died January 14, 1847.
Hugh Cossart II was born Dec. 9, 1847 and died June 4, 1931. He married October 14, 1869 Marion Mabel Matthews, who was born Aug. 16, 1845 and died March 18, 1931. Marion was the daughter of Edward and Catherine Sexton Matthews of London, Ontario, Canada.
"Hugh Cossart Baker II attended Dr. Tassie's school in Galt, and later became an ensign in the 13th Regiment and carried the colours at the Battle of Ridgeway, June 2, 1866. These flags now hang in the chancel of Christ's Church Cathedral, Hamilton. He was a member of Christ's Church, of the Garrick Club, the Leander Boat Club, and the Spinning Hamilton Thistle Club, and of the Caledon Mountain Trout Club, and later in life was made a life member of the Hamilton Club. He was a good amateur photographer and was one of the first to take coloured pictures on glass slides. He liked to travel, and crossed the ocean many times. He married Marion M. Matthews of London, Ontario, and they had three children: Sophy, the late Mrs. G. Denholm Burns, who had two sons; Hugh Cossart Baker III, who has one son, Francis, who is married but has no children; and May, the late Mrs. W.P. Chapman, who left three children. The Baker name has therefore come to an end in this branch of the family" (Lillian M. Shaw)
"Graham Bell early foresaw the possibilities of the telephone exchange as a means for the more complete utilization of the invention........."(Wm Patten)
"In Ontario, a notable figure in the history of the exploitation of the telephone was Hugh C. Baker. Temperamentally of the promoter type, he was the son of H.C. Baker who founded the Canada Life Assurance Company in 1847. At first a bank clerk, and then a private banker and broker, he was largely instrumental in forming the Hamilton Street Railway Company, the Hamilton Real Estate Association and the Canada Fire & Marine Insurance Co., before he was 30 years of age, and the Hamilton District Telegraph Co., which was incorporated June 28, 1878." (Wm. Patten)
"....Baker pursued a hobby that was to lead to very important events. He was one of a group of three enthusiastic young chess players, the other two being Mr. T.C. Mewburn, a customs officer, and Mr. C.D. Cory, an insurance company manager. Mr. Baker, the imaginative and inventive member of the trio, in 1875 conceived the idea of using a telegraph line between the three homes for the purpose of allowing each chess player to sit at home while he telegraphed his moves to his opponent a mile of more away. Without delay they organized the West Side Domestic Telegraph Company, with principal offices at their respective homes--148 Main Street West; 40 Maiden Lane West, now Jackson Street West; and 3 Herkimer Street. Telegraph linemen strung the single line from house to house across roofs and attached to trees and a few handily located telegraph poles. No other poles of any kind then adorned our city's streets. Over this wire the three telegraphed messages and chess moves to each other, and thoroughly enjoyed the novelty, little dreaming that their experiment would cause them to become telephone pioneers." (T.Roy Woodhouse)
"In an attempt to introduce the use of the telephone in Hamilton, the Rev. Thomas Henderson had chosen Mr. George Black, the Hamilton manager of the Montreal Telegraph Company, as his Hamilton representative; and it was Mr. Black who persuaded Mr. Baker to try telephones instead of telegraph instruments for transmitting his chess moves to his two friends. As a result, Mr. Melville Bell came to Hamilton and installed three telephones on Mr. Baker's private telegraph line. After several successful trials, a public demonstration of the installation was arranged, and it was reported in the Hamilton Spectator and the Hamilton Times on August 30, 1877". (T.Roy Woodhouse)
"The papers reported that six men went to Mr. Baker's house on Herkimer Street, five to Mr. Mewburn's house on Main Street and five to Mr. Cory's house on Jackson Street. Three telephones at each place were connected to three at each of the other two places. They talked to each other and listened to songs and the event was voted a huge success." (T.Roy Woodhouse).
In the early days, in order to promote the telephone, the company resorted to unusual methods to make the subscription rate more tempting to the buyer. In an article entitled "Tales of the Telephone" by H.F. Gardiner, printed in 1923, the following is recounted: "Another circular, with the caption 'District Telephone Lines' dated February 18, 1879, states that 'with a view of making it as easy as possible for our subscribers to order by telephone, from the dealers whose names will be found on our list, their groceries, fuel, drugs, confectionery, fruit, flowers, books, stationery, etc., whenever convenient to do so, we beg to suggest that you should send such orders, or short messages, direct to the central office, to be transmitted from there to the subscribers for whom they are intended. Mistakes may occur and we cannot guarantee correctness, as our business really consists of putting subscribers in communication with each other; but on the whole this plan will be found generally the most convenient to you. We also give the following services free of charge: Notices of arrival of express parcels in bond are telephoned immediately to the consignee. City fire alarms are notified by a quick ringing on small bells. Correct Hamilton time is given daily by twelve strokes on the bells, commencing at 11:55 a.m."
Hugh and Marion lived at 3 Herkimer Street, which was later numbered 13 Herkimer Street.
Hugh and Marion had the following children:
Sophie was born October 17, 1870 at Toronto, Ontario, and died 1956. The Baker family Bible shows her name as Sophie Catherin Baker, but her birth was registered as Sophia Baker. She was christened at home by Reverend Boddy of St. Peter's Church. Sophie was confirmed on December 10, 1885 at the Church of the Ascension, Hamilton by Bishop Hamilton of Niagara. At the age of 24, she married George Denholm Burns, aged 31, who was born October 31, 1863 and died 1945. Denholm Burns was the son of Adam Burns and Eleanor M. Burns. The marriage took place at Christ's Church Cathedral, Hamilton on Wednesday October 17, 1894. Sophie and Denholm Burns had three children, Alan Hamilton Burns, Maurice Creighton Burns, and Gavin Austin Burns. George Denholm Burns was an insurance clerk in 1896, and lived in Toronto in 1901.
Sophie Burns died on November 24, 1956. Her death was reported in the Victoria Daily Colonist on Wednesday, November 28, 1956. "In St. Mary's Priory, Langford, on November 24, 1956, Mrs. Sophia Burns, aged 86. Born in York, Ontario. Funeral service in Hayward's Chapel on Wednesday November 28, at 1:30 p.m., Reverend H. J. Jones officiating. Cremation." Sophie was interred in the Baker family plot at Hamilton Cemetery in section CC-a-156.
The children of George Denholm Burns and Sophie Catherine Baker were:
1. Alan Hamilton Burns was born August 8, 1895, in Hamilton in the county of Wentworth. Alan died on December 1, 1896 at the age of 15 months, of meningitis. Alan had been ill for 5 weeks.
2. Maurice Creighton Burns was born July 17, 1896 in Burlington in the county of Halton. Maurice was originally named Maurice Maxwell Burns; later his name was altered by his father, G. D. Burns of Toronto. Maurice Burns married Amy Dorothy Croft who was born 1902 and died 1975. Maurice Burns enlisted in the 15th Battery, 7th Brigade, CEF on March 22, 1915. At the time, he was a clerk with Bell Telephone Company, and gave his next of kin as G. D. Burns, his father, who lived on Jarvis St in Toronto. Around 1916, Maurice was wounded in the war, and Sophie Burns was able to visit her son Maurice in England while he recovered from his injuries. He was a Sargeant when he was discharged from the Canadian army March 31, 1918 in London, England. In addition, papers from the Royal Air Force show a posting November 20, 1917. Maurice Burns was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force February 15, 1919 and hospitalized as a result of an aircraft accident July 10, 1918. He died 1983.
Maurice and Amy Burns had one son, Peter Gavin Burns who was born 1927. Peter Gavin Burns married Marguerite Lucille Ellsworth, who was born 1926. Peter and Marguerite Burns had five children: Karen Elizabeth Burns who was born 1957 and died 1961, a son who is married, David McDonald Burns who was born 1960 and married Corrine Morgan, Janet Lynne Burns who was born 1965, and Susan Diane Burns who was born 1966 and married Richard Craig Bennett, born 1965. Susan and Richard have two children, Craig Gavin Bennett who was born 1994, and Sarah Diane Bennett who was born 1997.
3. Gavin Austin Burns was born July 3, 1897 and died 1980. Gavin Burns married Alexandrea Allan. Gavin had a career in Hollywood in the sound department during the 1920's and 1930's. For most of his working life, he was a sound engineer with MGM studios in California, and was involved in the production of the movie, Wizard of Oz. For a list of movies to which Gavin Burns is credited with his talents in sound production, see the website, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0122671/
Hugh Cossart Baker was born December 29, 1871 at Woodstock, Ontario. He was christened by Reverend John Gamble Geddes at Christ's Church Cathedral, Hamilton. Hugh was confirmed on Sunday, March 27, 1887 at St. James Cathedral, Toronto. He married Josephine Noella Charpentier of Ste. Hyacinthe, Quebec on April 30, 1910 at Winnipeg, Manitoba. Josephine was born December 25, 1880. Her family name was Casavant, and she had a sister Esther. At a young age, Josephine had left Quebec to travel to Winnipeg where she wanted to become a furrier. There she met Hugh Cossart Baker and they were later married. At the time of the 1911 census, Hugh and Josephine were living on Broadway Street in Winnipeg. H. Baker gave his birth year as 1874 and was aged 37, born in Ontario; religion was Anglican, and occupation was a sales manager for steel works. Josephine was born in Quebec of French Canadian heritage and gave her age as 32, born December, 1877. Her religion was stated as Christian Scientist.
Josephine died of a stroke on August 23, 1946. Her obituary reads as follows: "BAKER, Josephine N. At her home in Toronto, on Friday, Aug. 23, 1946, Josephine N. Charpentier, beloved wife of Hugh C. Baker and dear mother of Francis George Baker. The late Mrs. Baker is resting at F. Rosar Funeral Residence, 467 Sherbourne St., Toronto, for service Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock. Interment at Hamilton Cemetery, York St., Hamilton, Ont."
Hugh Cossart Baker was a Major, Royal Field Artillery. He was educated at Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario. He joined the 23rd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, England for eight months. From there, Hugh joined the 179th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, England and was in France and Belgium for one year and 4 months. Hugh was invalided to Base Hospital in France and then to England on sick leave and light duty. Hugh then joined the 7th Battery, 2A Reserve Brigade, R. F. A. at Fulwood Barracks, Preston, Lancashire, England for 6 ½ months. The Medical Board then passed Hugh as fit, and he was returned to France in September, 1917 with the 39th Divisional Ammunition Column for 2½ months. Next, Hugh joined "A" Battery, 91st Brigade, R.F.A. 20th Division, France and Belgium, 1 year and 2 months, until demobilized. Altogether during the war from 1914-1918, Hugh served for 4 years and 8 months. He was presented the Military Cross for bravery under fire. During the First World War, he was in charge of a Battery of Field Guns and as an officer, his duty was to get the instructions to the soldiers to keep firing and at what elevation to use. His courage while being fired upon by the German army was recognized by the presentation of the Military Cross. In civilian life, Hugh was a construction engineer, and later an appraiser with the Canadian Appraisal Co. From 1931, Hugh was also a stockbroker. Hugh Cossart Baker died 1962. Hugh and Josephine had one son, Francis George Baker, was born July 3, 1912. He married three times, but had no children of his own.
The child of Hugh Cossart Baker and Josephine Noella Charpentier Baker was:
1. Francis George Baker, born July 3, 1912 in Toronto, Ontario. His home was on Ontario Street in Kew Gardens. Francis' parents, Hugh and Josephine previously had a daughter who was born prematurely in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and who didn't survive. Francis was also born prematurely, but went on to live a full and happy life, the only child of Hugh and Josephine Baker. After Toronto, Francis lived in Montreal for a time, but the family moved to Welland and then back to Toronto. Francis was educated at Upper Canada College on King St in Toronto, and at age 16, he attended University of Toronto. In 1919, Francis' father returned from the war overseas. During the Depression, Francis noted a shortage of manpower who could type and take shorthand. Francis had learned Pitman shorthand and saw an opportunity to put his skills to use. General Electric was hiring a secretary to the manager, in the law department. Interestingly, Francis worked for General Electric in the same location that he had attended school as a child. A plaque marked the spot of the former Upper Canada College, Toronto. Later Francis was sent to work in the credit department with General Electric in a district office in North Toronto. In 1948, Francis became a senior ledger keeper in the accounting department at G.E.in Guelph. Francis retired from General Electric in 1972.
Francis George Baker married first Eva Ethyl Petitt who was born May 23, 1909 in Brantford, Ontario. Eva was the daughter of George Petitt, a tinsmith, and Beatrice Criss. Eva had one sister, and two brothers. Francis and Eva were married in 1936 when Francis was aged 24. Their home was in Erin, Ontario, until they retired to Georgia. After Eva died, Francis married Elizabeth Clair Cole, who was from Pinehurst Georgia. She died at the age of 63 in Georgia. Francis met and married Katie Elizabeth in 1983. They had been married 25 years when Francis died on May 28, 2008 at the age of 95 in Cordele, Georgia. Francis is buried at Zion Hope Cemetery, Cordele, Georgia.
Marion was born May 18, 1875 at Hamilton, Ontario. At that time, her father was listed as a stock broker. She was christened by Dean Geddes at All Saints Church, Hamilton. May was confirmed on Wednesday April 2, 1890 at the Church of the Ascension, Hamilton by Bishop Hamilton of Niagara. She married Walter Peck Chapman, born in March 1857 in England. According to the 1901 census, Walter was a civil engineer who immigrated to Canada in 1883. The Manitoba Morning Free Press, Winnipeg, reported the wedding on Friday, June 25, 1897. "A very pretty wedding took place last night in Christ Church Cathedral when Miss Marion Mabel Baker, daughter of Hugh C. Baker, general manager of the Ontario Department of the Bell Telephone, was married to W.P. Chapman of Barrie. A fashionable crowd was present. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Canon Bland." May died at Burlington June 3, 1908 of Diphtheritic Septicemia, an illness of five days duration. May was buried with her grandfather in the Wyatt family plot at Burlington Cemetery. At the time of the 1911 census, Walter lived at 58 Prince Arthur in Toronto, Ontario. He had a housekeeper named Emily Hutton living with the family, along with another domestic. Doris was aged 13, Eleanor was aged 11, and Geoffrey was aged 6. In 1912, Walter P. Chapman married again, to Gwendolyn W. Chapman. Walter gives his birthplace as Abbotsley, England, where he was the eldest son of William and Elizabeth Chapman. Walter Peck Chapman died in 1940.
The children of Walter Peck Chapman and Marion Mabel Baker were:
1. Doris Marion Chapman, born March 20, 1898, and who married twice. Her first husband was M.R.G. McLean, with whom she had a son, David McLean. David married Diana Windeyer and they had four children, Sally, Merry, Judy and Hugh. Doris married a second time to R. W.(Bill) Fitzgerald. They lived in Thornhill, Ontario.
2. Eleanor Morton Chapman was born October 15, 1899 in the county of Wentworth. Eleanor's birth was registered as Beatrice Morton Chapman, but she was known as Eleanor. She married twice. Her first husband was M. H. Wylie and her second husband was A. Van Winkle. Eleanor had a daughter, Anne Wylie, who married C.E.(Charles) Dawson of Whitby, Ontario, and they had twin sons.
3. Walter Geoffrey Cossart Chapman, born June 13, 1905, in Wentworth county, and who married Mary Palin (born 1912) on April 16, 1938. They had two children, Christopher Baker Chapman (who married Jean Sweetlove) and Susan Chapman, whose married name became McTavish, and who had a daughter, Kate. Mary Palin Chapman died August 26, 1993 at the age of 81.
At the time of the 1881 Census of Canada, Hugh C. Baker gave his origin as Irish. He was 33 years old and listed his occupation as manager. Marion M. Baker was 33, of English origin. The children all gave their origin as English and were as follows: Sophie C. Baker, age 10; Hugh C. Baker, age 9; and Marion M.Baker, age 5. Also living in the household was Marion's mother, Catherine Matthews, age 77, widow, of English origin, born in USA. In addition a governess and three servants were included in the household.
Catherine Matthews died July 2, 1883 at Hamilton. Her death registration shows that she was a widow, aged 80, and she died of old age.
The "Mail", June 5, 1931
Hugh C. Baker Organized Bell Co.--Had First Exchange, Used it for Chess
Special to the Mail and Empire. Hamilton, June 4--Hugh C. Baker, organizer of the Bell Telephone Company in Canada and manager of the first telephone exchange in the Dominion and beyond in the world, died this afternoon at his home, 13 Herkimer Street. Mr. Baker, who was 85 years of age, had been ill for some time and his death was not unexpected.
In March, 1878, Mr. Baker organized the Hamilton District Telegraph company, which operated on the site of the present Regent exchange on Main Street and he became its president. Prior to that, he had been a prominent stock broker and a director of the Hamilton Real Estate Corporation. He organized the Canada Fire and Marine Insurance Company and was active in the organization of the Hamilton Street Railway Company.
It was during the winter of 1879-1880 that Mr. Baker organized the Bell Telephone Company of Canada. He got the necessary subscriptions and applied for a charter. District business men who were associated with him in the pioneering venture were the late John Billings, Hamilton; W. R. Meredith, London, and P.W. Gates, Hamilton. Previous to the organization of the Bell system in Canada, Mr. Baker had launched the Hamilton Telephone Company, which succeeded the Hamilton District Telegraph Company.
This was the first exchange in Canada and in 1877, when the venture was made, Mr. Baker, General Mewburn's father and Charles D. Cory, father of General Cory, subscribed to the first private telephone lines in Canada. It is said of them that it was their delight to play chess matches over the telephone. Upon the organization of the Bell system, Mr. Baker was appointed manager for the Ontario department, a position which he held until his retirement from active service in 1909. Surviving are Hugh C. Baker, Toronto, a son, and Mrs. Burns, a daughter, at home. Mrs. Baker predeceased her husband in March of this year.
Fanny was born in September 1, 1849 and never married. Her mother Emma noted in her diary that September 1, 1851 was a fine day for little Fanny's second birthday. Fanny remained close to her sister, Emma Maria throughout her life, and was a witness to Emma's marriage to Rev. John Holmes. Fanny lived with Emma and her husband for a time. For the last 10 years of her life, she lived at 699 King Edward Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario. Fanny died on February 3, 1930 at the age of 80 and is buried at Beechwood Cemetery.
Annie Gertrude was born October 18, 1851 and baptized on December 28 by Rev. John Hebden in the Church of the Ascension in Hamilton. Her sponsors were Emma Wyatt of Herberton, H.E., Anne Cole Baker of Bytown and James Coffin Geddes. She married in 1870, George Patterson who was born April 20, 1846. The marriage notice appeared in the Perth Courier September 30, 1870, as follows: "At Christ Church, Hamilton on the 22nd inst. by the Rev. J. G. Geddes M. A., Rector, assisted by the Rev. E. Patterson M. A., Rector of Stratford, E. G. Patterson, Esq. M. A. formerly of Perth, to Annie Gertrude, second daughter of Hugh C. Baker, Esq." She died November 1, 1897 at the age of 46. The death certificate notes that Annie G. Patterson was ill with Pseudomembranous Bronchitis for 10 days before she died. Dr. R. M. Simpson was her physician. J. Thomson registered the death in Winnipeg on November 2, 1897. Annie Gertrude's death was announced in the Manitoba Morning Free Press, Winnipeg, Tuesday, November 2, 1897 as follows: "PATTERSON - At her husband's residence, 235 Bell Street, Winnipeg, on 1st November, 1897, Annie Gertrude, beloved wife of George Patterson, barrister, and daughter of the late Hugh C. Baker, Esquire, of Hamilton, Ont. Funeral private." For more information on the Patterson family, and the children of George Patterson and Annie Gertrude Baker, see the Patterson page of this website.
Catherine Eliza's birth date has been taken from a notation in the diary of her mother Emma, who refers, on January 20, 1855, to "dear baby's first birthday". Baptismal records in the Church of the Ascension in Hamilton confirm this. She was baptized January 29, 1854 by John Hebden. She never married, and at the census of 1881, she lived with her aunt and uncle ( Rev. Charles Forest and Fanny Marianne Grantham Baker Forest), and cousin Marion Forest. Catherine Eliza Baker was known to her family as Kate. She died of a pulmonary embolism at the age of 49 on July 30, 1903, and is buried in Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa: "In loving memory of Catherine E. Baker, daughter of H.C. Baker, granddaughter of the late Capt. G. W. Baker, died June 30, 1903". She is buried in plot 2, section 50.
Emma Maria was born August 11, 1856 and was baptized in the Church of the Ascension in Hamilton on November 19th. An annouoncement of Emma Maria's birth was placed in the Brantford Expositor, September 2, 1856, as follows: "At Sizinghurst Cottage, Barton, near Hamilton, on Monday, 11th August, Mrs. Hugh C. Baker of a daughter."
Emma Maria Baker married Rev. John W. Holmes on October 10, 1878 at Woodstock, Ontario. Two of the witnesses to the marriage were George Patterson of Hamilton, and Frances A. Baker of Woodstock. Rev. John W. Holmes was born March 21, 1836 in Middleton, County Cork, Ireland, a son of Robert and Elizabeth Holmes. John came over to Canada in 1860 and had a sister Bessie Holmes. A small article concerning John appeared in the Woodstock Review Friday October 2, 1874. "Returned. Rev. J. W. Holmes of Richwood and Ayr circuit has just returned from a trip to Ireland whither he went to recuperate. His health is much improved which will be very gratifying news to his many friends throughout the communities where he is known."
John and Emma had 3 sons and 4 daughters. On the 1881 Census of Canada, the family of John Holmes, Church of England Clergyman, is shown living in Kingsville, Essex, Ontario. They are all listed as Irish. John is 45, Emma M. is 25 and the children are: John Eyre Coote Holmes, 1; Marie M.A. Holmes, younger than one year; and Frances A. Baker, age 31. Fanny Amelia Baker, Emma's sister who never married, lived with the family at that time.
Emma Maria Baker, wife of Rev. John Holmes died February 11, 1919 at the age of 62 years. She was buried at Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa. Reverend John Holmes died on Thursday April 5, 1923 at 8 p.m. at Trinity Church Rectory, Ottawa South at the age of 87 years and 15 days. He was buried at Beechwood Cemetery On April 7th, 1923.
John Eyre Coote Holmes was born in Courtright on September 3, 1879. The baptism took place on October 5, 1879 with sponsors listed as John Lindsay and Catherine E. Baker and one other. John Eyre Coote was known as Eyre Holmes. In 1901, Eyre was living in Greenwood, British Columbia and working as a ledger keeper. He married Marie Julia Greaves on October 29, 1910 in Ottawa. On their wedding day, Eyre was 31 years of age and Marie Julia was 26. Julia was born December 3, 1883 in Toronto, and was the daughter of Walter Greaves, a civil service employee, and Marie Zoe A. A. Suzor. She died March 1937. Eyre died in August, 1968 at St. John's County, Florida.
The children of Eyre and Julia were:
1. Lorna Zoe Holmes was born at Ottawa on February 9, 1911. She died at 8:00 a.m. on January 30, 1935, at Lady Grey Hospital, Ottawa, and is buried at Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa, near her grandfather's resting place.
2. Evelyn Julia Holmes was born on May 30, 1912. She died at 2:30 p.m. June 16, 1920 and is buried at Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa near her grandfather's resting place.
3. Jocelyn Erica Lillian Holmes was born March 18, 1914.
4. Doris Coote Holmes was born May 5, 1916 in Ottawa.
Eyre wrote a wonderful letter from St. Augustine, Florida in 1958 in which he transcribed a narration made to him in 1907 by his mother Emma Baker Holmes, wife of Rev. John Holmes. This letter is kept in the Baker file at the Nepean Museum. "My great grandfather (maternal), Captain George William Baker, Royal Artillery, England, on his retirement was given 5,000 Canadian acres by the British Government. The grant extended from Bytown to Britannia along the Ottawa River. He gave most of it away to his English friends who agreed to come out to 'help him fight the Indians.' There on rising ground, overlooking the Ottawa River, he built his home and called it 'Woodrooffe' with his five sons and two daughters where he lived and where he died--proof--in my Great Aunt Fanny's (his daughter) Bible, now in my possession, is this notice:'Death-Capt. Geo. W. Baker at Woodroffe July 22, 1862.' ........my mother and I always got off the electric car at Woodruf Station and walked south to Baker's Bush and through the beautiful hardwoods west to the old stone foundation of the Baker home of Woodroffe, which was in a large treeless area on rising ground overlooking the Ottawa River......Woodroffe was burnt down (my mother told me)three times. It was rebuilt by the Baker family twice.....my great grandfather never missed his morning tub in the Ottawa River. On the coldest winter day, he could be seen with axe over shoulder to cut a fresh hole through the ice.....This Woodroffe house was built in the center of the 5,000 acre grant given to him from the British Government. My great grandmother Baker was best remembered in her carriage and four horses as she drove herself regularly to Bytown."
Marion Maria Allworth Holmes was born in Kingsville on January 17, 1881. Her baptism took place on Easter Day, 1881 at St. John's Church, Kingsville. The sponsors were Dr. Allworth, Maria E. Beard, and Marion M. Baker. At the time of the Canadian census of 1881, she was less than one year old. Marion Maria Allworth Holmes died in infancy at 2:55 p.m. on August 6, 1881.
Elizabeth Mabel Gertrude Holmes, known as Bessie, was born at Delaware, Ontario on November 14, 1882 and was baptized on February 18, 1883. Her sponsors were Ann Gertrude Patterson, Mabel Moore, and Chas. L. Beard. Elizabeth died in Winnipeg on March 23,1917. She is buried at St. John's Cemetery, Winnipeg. Elizabeth Mabel Gertrude Holmes married her first cousin, Gordon Hugh Patterson, the son of E. George Patterson and Annie Gertrude Baker. Elizabeth was known as Bessie as the inscription in the family Bible she received on her wedding day from her brother reads as follows: "To dear Bessie and Gordon on their marriage day 10th August, 1910. With love and best wishes, Sydney B. Holmes." For more information on the Patterson family, particularly Gordon Hugh Patterson, see the Patterson page of this website.
Sydney Baker Holmes was born February 25, 1885 at Delaware, Ontario. He was baptised Sunday June 7, 1885 at Burwell Memorial Church. His sponsors were his uncle, Hugh C. Baker, Arthur G. Smith, and Amanda Mewburn. He married first Dorothy Baldwin Grahame, the daughter of Martin Grahame and Jane McLeod Baldwin. They were married on June 8, 1911 at Christ Church, Deer Park Circle, Toronto, Ontario. Reverend Sydney Baker Holmes served in several parishes in the Ottawa area, including Ottawa, Kars, Carp, Morrisburg and Perth. Dorothy Baldwin Grahame died of appendicitis at Ottawa on May 6, 1941, in her 53rd year. Her husband Reverend Sydney Baker Holmes wrote, "She was faithful unto death - a woman fit to be the mother of heroes." She left her husband and a family of three children to mourn her loss. Reverend Holmes chose Ina Maud Armstrong to be his second wife. They married on September 19, 1942 at Christ Church Cathedral. They had one son Edward Sydney Holmes, born 1944. Reverend Sydney Baker Holmes is buried at St. James Anglican Cemetery, Carp, Ontario. The monument is inscribed as follows: Rev. Sydney Baker Holmes, Born Feb 25, 1885, Died July 17, 1967, Rector of this Parish 1938-1943, Beloved husband of Dorothy Baldwin Grahame, Born Aug 25, 1888, Died May 6, 1941, and Ina Maud Armstrong, Born June 21, 1910, Died Sept 15, 1998.
The children of Sydney Baker Holmes and Dorothy Baldwin Grahame were:
1. John Holmes, born in Toronto July 6, 1913 and who served in the Navy in World War 2. He lived in Hamilton for a time and then moved to Deep River, Ontario. John married Isabelle Margaret Chivers at Waterloo, Ontario in 1953. They had 4 children, Mary Jane Holmes born 1954, William Sydney Holmes born 1956, Thomas John Holmes born 1958 and Kathleen Anne Holmes born 1960. John Holmes died January, 1999 at the age of 85.
2. Charles Robert Grahame Holmes born at Toronto on May 23,1916. He was known as Bob and he married Anna Ruth Graham at Kingsville, Ontario on July 5, 1945. Their children were Jane Isabel born 1946, Dorothy Ann born 1948 and Robert Graham Holmes born 1950. Bob Holmes died May 31, 2004.
3. Emma Jane Grahame Holmes was born at Ottawa on December 27, 1920. She married Henry Turman and had three children, Virginia, Henry and Christopher. Emma Jane died in 1998.
Reverend Sydney Baker Holmes and his second wife Ina Maud Armstrong had one son, Edward Sydney Baker Holmes, born 1944 at Perth, Ontario. Edward married Carol Ann Firth and they had two daughters, Jennifer Carol, born 1972, and Angela Michelle, born 1974.
Henry Lionel de Blacquiere Holmes was born at Thorndale, Ontario on Saturday September 25, 1886. His birth was registered as Henry Blake Holmes. His baptism took place on Sunday December 19, 1886 at St. George's Church, Thorndale. His sponsors were Chas H. Beard, Mary A. de Blaquiere and one other. He died in his second year on October 20, 1887, according to the family Bible. The death registration shows that Henry Lionel Holmes died at 13 months of the croup, after an illness of 3 days. He was 13 months old at the time and died at Sandwich East in the county of Essex. The family had been living at Walkerville at the time.
Emma Beatrice was born at Walkerville, Ontario on August 5, 1888. She was baptised on Sunday September 30, 1888 at St. Mary's Church, Walkerville. Her sponsors included M. E. Beard, John Lindsay, and Mary Oliver. She was known affectionately as Auntie B, and was described by Richard Edwards as "always cheery and bright, and interesting. She had energy, pep and enthusiasm for whatever she was doing." She never married, and kept in touch with a wide circle of friends and relatives. She travelled far and wide and endeared herself to many. In her final years she lived in Victoria, British Columbia. She died July 1st, 1976 at Vancouver in her 88th year. She was cremated and her remains were interred in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Jane Isabella Allin Holmes was born at Walkerville, Ontario on October 31, 1890. Her birth was registered on December 27, 1890 as Jane Louisa Holmes, but was recorded in the family Bible as Jane Isabella Allin Holmes. She was baptised at St Mary's Church on Sunday April 26, 1891. Her sponsors included Theresa Rielly, and two others. She never married and died Monday March 27, 1933 at 6:00 am. at the Ontario Hospital of Brockville. She died at the age of 42 years, 4 months and 27 days. The funeral service was held at Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa on March 29, 1933 at 12 noon. Jane is buried at Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa with her parents, Reverend John Holmes and Emma Maria Holmes. The inscription on the side of the monument reads, "Daughter Janey 1891 - 1933."
George Percival was born December 28, 1857. According to guardianship papers filed after the death of Hugh and Emma, George Percival and Emma Maria were placed under the care of their maternal grandparents, Henry and Emma Wyatt.
At the 1911 census, Percival was an inmate at the Orillia Hospital for Feeble Inmates. He was of Irish extraction and his religion was Anglican. He died April 29, 1915 at the Orillia Hospital for Feeble Invalids, Simcoe County, Ontario. He had never married. His death certificate was registered in the name of Percy, and indicated that he died of pleurisy after an illness of about two weeks duration. He is buried in the Baker family plot, Hamilton, Ontario.
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