Francis Russell "Russ" Baker

  • b- 1910-01-31 , RM of Assiniboia, Winnipeg, MB
  • d- 1958-11-15 , West Vancouver (Heart AttacK)
    • Funeral Tuesday Nov 18, 1958,Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver.Buried on a high hilltop, overlooking Stuart Lake, at Ft. St. James BC. His headstone is an old Beaver Aircraft Propeller.
  • He flew for Canadian Pacific, delivering mail in the North.
  • He was the Co-founder of Central BC Airways in Ft St. James BC in 1946 with fellow pioneer pilot, Walter Gilbert. Central BC Airways became PWA in 1953, Pacific Western Airlines Ltd.
  • Russ originally flew a leased Beech Biplane.
  • The family moved from Ft. St. James to Kamloops.
  • He bought Associated Air Taxi Worked his way up from this one bi-plane,to own a fleet of 65 planes.
  • PWA became 3rd largest commercial airline in Canada.
  • Won the United States Air Medal (USAM) from President (1945-1953) Harry Truman, for “exceptional daring and pilotage ability”. He rescued 24 US Air Force personnel from a crash site involving 3 aircraft near Watson Lake, Yukon

photo taken by Bud Walker 1952, left- Herman Joseph “Slim” Knights, shaking hands with Russ Baker, right. Slim was the Uncle of Grant Walker. photo taken by Bud Walker. Slim married Bud's younger sister, Thora Walker. Looks like front of Associated's G21 Goose.

  • He was barn storming in the prairies as early as age 16.
  • In 1928 he flew the first airmail out of Winnipeg in an old Fokker.
  • Flew an old Junkers F-34, on the first aerial Expedition,to reach Deadman's Valley, in Nahanni Country of NWT.
    • His credo at the time “A bad start always means a good finish”
  • He used the same Junkers, to go to Lonesome Lake, 200 mi NW of Vancouver,to pick up 5 Trumpeter Swans that Canada presented to Queen Elizabeth in her Coronation year.
  • In Oct 1955, he got Canadian Air Transport approval to freight all the equipment into the north, for the Distant Early Warning Radar (DEW) line in the Central Arctic.
  • PWA took over from Associated Airways of Edmonton, Oct 4.
  • In his career he flew for over 15,000 hours and completed 700 mercy flights.
  • Russ Baker Way near Vancouver Airport, named after him.

Russ Baker 1952 at Sea Island note- model of his biplane at his feet

He wasn't liked by everyone sad to say. Jim Spilsbury in his book Accidental airline, gives a view of this man completely different than some of the history books do. Shall I say he tells the story of a man who would use what most would consider unscrupulous Business practices to achieve the goal of expanding his airline business. I knew neither men, so all this is alleged, but Spilsbury kind of spells out his reasons why: The special party room he kept full time at the Hotel Ritz in Vancouver reserved for “special favours” for bankers, Government Officials, Executives etc.Per Spilsbury lots of deals were done behind the scenes in this room.

I find researching some of these “Big” business guys there is always a second almost hidden side. They didn't get rich from always doing it the ethical way but that doesn't sound as good in the Bios.Undoubtedly he was a smart guy. And I will not be his judge in the end.

He even got to meet Howard Hughes at Stuart Lodge, at Ft. St. James. Shortly after flying the Spruce Goose Mr. Hughes went to see Russ to brag “he” was the world's greatest flyer,only ending up, after Russ supposedly jumped from a 50ft spruce tree and living, to declare Russ Baker, “the World's Greatest Flyer”.

  • Russ is supposedly related to the Dukes of Bedford in Bedfordshire.
  • His grandmother was Lady Russell.
  • 1974 Province of Alberta bought all the outstanding shares of PWA, and made Russ's widow very wealthy.She had a retirement home in Hawaii,and a second home in the Grand Caymans.

Related Pages

Margaret Marshall (Madge) Adair

  • b- 1911-01-01
  • d- 1996-01-01
  • m-
  • daughter of John Adair, and Sarah Dunne.
  • She was the oldest of 5 children.
  • see Terrace-Kitimat Airport page for her picture

Noni (daughter)

  • b-
  • d-

Joy (daughter)

  • b-
  • d-

Harry Francis Reid Baker one source says “Henry Francis Reed Baker”

  • b-Mar 1879 in England
  • d-
    • Anglican religion, Foreman at a Gypsom Works.
    • Immigrated in 1900 to Canada

Sarah Denton

  • b- Mar 3, 1881, in England
  • d-
    • immigrated in 1897 I think?
    • 1900 she was in Portage La Prairie MB, Tailoress?
    • Baptist religion, same as children

Brothers

Norman Reed Baker

  • b-Dec 14,1907, in RM of Assiniboia, Winnipeg, MB
  • d-
    • Baker family lived on corner of

Dundas & Sargent in Winnipeg in 1911.

Sisters

Mrs. Robert Hiley

  • b-
  • d-
    • Lived in Vancouver
  • Last modified: 2016/10/26 15:37
  • by agent76