In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar


George Allan Baker


Lieutenant, O-3800, RCNVR


Born: 09 May 1924, Winnipeg, Manitoba


Died: 22 Feb 2021


BAKER, George Allan - Allan was born in Winnipeg, the eldest child of Jocelyn Ottilie Allan and Ralph Dennistoun Baker. He spent his childhood surrounded by an interesting, interested and loving extended family there and at the Lake of the Woods. Although always a Westerner at heart, Allan left home early, joining the Canadian Navy at 18 during WWII. He was quietly proud of his contributions, including building the breakwaters that made D-Day possible, and so was France, who made him a Knight of the Legion of Honour. After the war, he ventured west again to work as an oil scout and landman. His experience there lured him to Ontario in the late 50's to get closer to the action, but in '75 he returned to Calgary, then West Vancouver and finally Canmore for the last half of his life. A handsome, charming man, Allan was known for his dimpled smile and tasteful but quirky sartorial choices (from 3 piece custom-made suits worn with handwoven wool ties and sometimes cowboy boots, to baseball caps and knee socks with shorts). He was well known on the ski hill, first for his orange sailing gear, then a distinctive tri-coloured one-piece ski suit (with matching gloves) and for his distinctive "barks" and "howls" indicating his location to the others in his group! He loved small dogs and children and could not let one pass without a chat. He loved jazz from an early age, listening at his uncle Tony's knee, seeing the greats in New York. Later in life he learned to adore opera - driving through snowstorms to see live performances in Edmonton - the human voice was the supreme instrument in his view. He loved books and his homes were always stacked high with them. He loved women for their smarts and thought they should be running the world. He loved water and moving over it by canoe or sail, carrying either vessel rooftop on his compact car. (He did not love drinking it and was always dehydrated!) He loved the mountains. And trains! And was a sentimental person who cried very easily. Allan was meticulous to the extreme - he looked forward to cleaning up messes (dishes, a sock drawer, forest undergrowth, specks of foreign material on the carpet) as a form of relaxation. He was always healthy, stalwart, famously persistent and never "retired" - always looking for ways to be useful until the very end. He dedicated himself thoroughly to all his endeavours and interests and was a strong example to all who knew him. Allan was driven by an insatiable curiosity. He was deeply interested in how the world and its inhabitants worked. Not his car's engine - that was of no interest - but his desire to figure out people and systems was a potent influence in his life and career. It took him awhile, but he became an adept judge of character - instinctively knowing who was "real". He never stopped learning - and was delighted when the World Wide Web offered him a library at his fingertips! Curiosity also made him a huge sports enthusiast. He played football and hockey as a young man, skied and played badminton as he aged, but was mainly an avid follower and fan of all there was to know about football, hockey, baseball, tennis, curling, golf and more. His curiosity, persistence and meticulous nature eventually molded him into a man who found success as a professional advisor to heads of state and industry. Although never a civil servant or party member, he managed Lester Pearson's '63 federal campaign and John Turner's '68 run for Liberal leader. He was Special Advisor to three Cabinet Ministers. He was a friend to Peter Lougheed and Shimon Peres. Leonid Brezhnev once hugged him! For years he worked with government and private industry, mediating and looking for solutions. He mentored leaders at Y2Y, worked with the Calgary Foundation and volunteered with Alberta Parks, always making the effort to share his knowledge and encouraging everyone to know more and do better. "I don't put myself above, I put myself with people. That's where I always want to be." Possibly more than anything, Allan was a communicator, educator, mentor, connector and storyteller extraordinaire! From eight year old nieces to local environmental organizations, anyone capable of reading was liable to receive care packages of clippings with lengthy notes about their interests. Everyone he knew looked forward to his stories about a life full of real experience and contributions. He was the oldest person ever to hike China's Tiger Leaping Gorge at 81, rode for 8 days on horseback in Kyrgyzstan at 88, was a dedicated and strong skier to age 90 and walked all over town with just a cane into his 97th year. He loved to take the route less travelled and would investigate any potential shortcut, wherever he was in the world. A firm believer in his sense of direction and how much fuel he would use to get to a certain place, he piloted his life well until just near the end when it became impossible - and so off he went, flying over the Rockies to his next adventure. He was predeceased by wives Norma Woods and Audrey Robb Lawrence, daughter Sarah Baker, sister Gillian Lewis, brother Dennis Baker. He will be badly missed by daughter Tannis and sons George and Sam, namesake grand-daughter Allana, step-children Pinky McAllister and Robb and Guy Lawrence, their spouses, children and grand-children, his cousin Bruce Macdonald, sister Nora Baker Lavoie, his many nieces and nephews and a ton of friends. (The Globe and Mail 06 Mar 2021)


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