Historic Tourism

The Setting

From the vast sweep of territory controlled by the Ktunaxa Nation Chief Isadore chose the ideal location for his summer quarters. It was a small rise at the southern end of Joseph’s Prairie, blessed by gentle summer breezes which kept the mosquitoes at bay. This was the same land he shared amicably with John Thompson Galbraith who had pre-empted part of it (Lot 4) in 1872 and then bought the adjacent Lots 5 and 24. Galbraith built a sawmill and combination residence/store on the property. Chief Isadore returned each summer to pasture his horses and escape the baking heat of the summer as well as the pesky mosquitoes.

In 1885 Galbraith sold the property to a recent immigrant from England, Colonel James Baker. The new owner promptly fenced the property, excluding Chief Isadore and precipitating the “Kootenay Crisis” which resulted in the occupation of Galbraith’s Ferry by Superintendent S.B. Steele and “D” Division of the North West Mounted Police. In the resulting settlement Colonel Baker retained the property, which eventually became known as Baker Hill.

Locally the site, under the administration of the Bakers, was known as “The Park” and was home to a large herd of mule deer and other indigenous species. It was also the site of countless fetes and galas throughout the period of James Baker’s residence there, and then that of his son Valentine Hyde Baker. Valentine hosted many gatherings of the regions earliest automobilists there.

The property stayed with the Baker Estate until January 15th, 1925, when the citizens of Cranbrook voted in a referendum 265 to 190 to purchase the twelve and one-half acres as a City Park and Tourist Park. With such a long and illustrious history it is suiting that Block 45, now Baker Park, became the site of the tourist park in 1925, and then the Gyro pool in 1930. The pool was closed by the City of Cranbrook in 1969 but in 2010 the tourist park looks forward to its 85th successful season of operation in this place.

This project is sponsored by:

The Baker House
The Colonel Baker House in Cranbrook, B.C. An exterior view, c1898-1900.
Postcard - In The Park - Cranbrook, BC
An image displaying a fine horse, taken on the Baker Estate in Cranbrook and sold by Beattie & Atchison, druggists.
Early Cranbrook, BC Scene c.1887
Early Cranbrook, BC Scene c.1887 A Dawson photo of the Baker Estate area, with Joseph Creek in foreground. Dan Melody…