Monday, December 17, 2012

Bakers, Pilots and Curators

I don't know when this house was built but the reason I am posting the photos is because of who lived here. 196 West 12th was once the residence of Percy Williams. Percy competed in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. He won gold medals in the 100 and 200 metre sprints. This is still the greatest achievement by a Canadian in an international track and field competition. Some residents of this area still remember Percy training in the front yard.

Frank Madill Baker was born on June 24, 1922 in Vancouver and went on to become a legendary restaurateur in his birth city.

Baker opened Baker's Catering at 25th and Kingsway as well as Spring Gardens at 41st and Boulevard in 1946. With his partner Frank Bernard, Baker opened two restaurants in Georgian Towers and bought the Park Royal Hotel.

After that partnership ended, Baker opened The Attic in 1968 in West Vancouver. Guests in this 1,200 seating restaurant were entertained by Lance Harrison and his Dixieland Band. Frank, quite a showman, wore a trademark white suit and played the trumpet. (A skill he learned with the Four Square Gospel Church) Outside The Attic, Baker showcased the Aston Martin that was showcased in the James Bond movie, Goldfinger. While serving as a Vancouver alderman, Frank Baker was responsible to the lights being put on city hall. He died in Vancouver on November 21, 1989.

These houses are on West 6th and were built in 1909.

Another Baker, Russell Francis, was a pioneer bush pilot. He was born in Winnipeg on January 31, 1910. Baker was an early bush pilot for such airlines as Western Canada Airways and Canadian Pacific.

In 1946, he began Central B.C. Airways with a contract with B.C. Forest Service fire-patrol. Baker took over airlines in B.C. and Alberta to create an independent airline that served western communities. In 1953, the company name became Pacific Western Airlines and it grew to be the largest western regional air carrier. In 1987, PWA bought CP Air. 

Russell Francis Baker died November 15, 1958 in West Vancouver.
Alvin Balkind was born in Baltimore, Maryland on March 28, 1921. He received a BA at John Hopkins and later attended the Sorbonne - from 1933-35. In 1954, Balkind came to Vancouver and founded the New Design Gallery - a centre for the avant-garde - a year later. He was curator of the UBC Fine Arts Gallery from 1962-1973 and chief curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery from 1975-1978. Alvin was the first $50,000 winner of the VIVA (Vancouver Institute for Visual Arts) award in 1992. He died in Vancouver on December 21, 1992.

Thank you The History of Metropolitan Vancouver website for the information on the people and thank you to Bob_2006 photostream for information on the 1909 homes and the pamphlet from the Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Area for details concerning Percy Williams. (Whew! I consult a lot of sources for information!)

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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