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Francis Russell "Russ" Baker
b- Jan 31, 1910 in RM of Assiniboia, Winnipeg, MB
d- Nov 15, 1958 of a heart attack,
in his West Vancouver Home, age 49.
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.
Russ Baker 1952 at Sea Island
note- model of his biplane at his feet
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.
Herman Joseph "Slim"
shaking hands with Russ Baker, right.
Slim was the Uncle of Grant Walker.
He married Bud's younger sister, Thora Walker.
photo taken by Bud 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
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.
completed 700 mercy flights.
He was married with 2 daughters, Noni and Joy.
He had a sister Mrs. Robert Hiley, in Vancouver.
Russ Baker Way near Vancouver Airport, named after him.
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 would be considered,
unscrupulous Business practices,
to achieve his expanding 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
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,
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.
wife- Margaret Marshall "Madge" Adair
b- 1911 in Winnipeg MB
daughter of John Adair, and Sarah Dunne.
She was the oldest of 5 children.
page for her picture
Father- Harry Francis Reid Baker
one source says "Henry Francis Reed Baker"
b- Mar 1879 in England
Anglican religion, Foreman at a Gypsom Works.
Immigrated in 1900 to Canada
Mother- Sarah Denton
b- Mar 3, 1881, in England
immigrated in 1897 I think?
1900 she was in Portage La Prairie MB, Tailoress?
Baptist religion, same as children
Brother- Norman Reed Baker
b- Dec 14,1907, in RM of Assiniboia, Winnipeg, MB
Baker family lived on corner of
Dundas & Sargent in Winnipeg in 1911.
Note- Not my site,
Link may or may not work in the future.
BC Aviation Hall of Fame
Everything you need to know
about PWA, and were afraid to ask!
If by any chance these photos are copyright,
and you want them removed from this site,
please contact me ASAP.
I do not purposely use copyright photos.