Baker, Dave

Websites:  https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/nanaimo-bc/david-baker-11041423, https://www.facebook.com/people/Dave-Baker/100013078995707?_rdr
Origin: Vancouver - Nanaimo, British Columbia, 🇨🇦

Singer and songwriter David (Dave) Baker passed away on November 22, 2022, after a short illness. He was 77.

Dave was born on June 20, 1945, in Vancouver, BC. He spent his elementary school years in Nanaimo, BC and then moved to Duncan, BC for his high school years. He graduated from Cowichan High in 1963, and completed his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia in 1969. He had a successful engineering career, working in different pulp and paper mills around the world and finally, in 1989, moving to Sandwell Engineering Inc, as the Vice President of Business Development.

Although he spent much of his life on the water as a sailor and a fisherman, his first love was his music. He was an accomplished Canadian folk singer-songwriter. In 1960, while still in high school, Dave formed a rock'n’roll band and for three years his band played at high schools and community halls all up and down Vancouver Island. In 1969, Dave moved to Montreal – it was there he joined the Montreal Workshop and began singing and writing his songs. His musical muses were the culture, history and landscape of Vancouver Island and the West Coast of Canada, in particular trains – Dave was a railroad and locomotive enthusiast.

He released three vinyl LPs - Kettle Valley Line (1973), Endless Highway (1977) and Railway Memories (1981), and three CDs – This Land is What I Am (1995), Songs & Sounds of Canadian Steam (1998) and A Portrait of the West Coast in Song (2006). His biggest hits, Kettle Valley Railway, Royal Hudson, Land of Maquinna, World of Small and Old Lady Rose, have been sung by over 200 choirs across Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan. The Chor Leoni Men’s Choir, the Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir and the Orpheus Male Choir have performed and recorded several of his songs. Two of Dave’s songs were included on Chor Leoni’s Canadian Safari 2 album (https://chorleoni.org/product/canadian-safari-2/). His song, This Land Is What I Am, was sung by a children's choir during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics in the Richmond O-Zone (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W10zQB4eEs4).

His engineering and music career was cut short by a serious stroke in 1998 at 52 years old, at which point he lost mobility and his singing voice. After recovering, he focused his later years on promoting the songs he wrote earlier in his career.

If you wish to listen to any of his music, Dave’s songs can be found in the Canadian Museum of Music (https://citizenfreak.com/artists/91044-baker-dave). Also, plenty of recordings are on YouTube. One of his joys was watching the view counter tick up, since he knew his music was reaching more people every day.

He was pre-deceased by his father, Donald Hamilton Baker (1912-1989) and his mother, Amy Kathleen Baker (1912-2004). He is survived by his sister, Wendy McLean, his daughters, Cynthia Muller and Katherine Baker, and his son, Kenneth Baker.

Daves Old Bio from Dave:
Dave Baker was born in Vancouver in 1945. His childhood days were in Nanaimo and his adolescence in Duncan. While in Nanaimo he lived on St Andrews Street next to the E&N tracks. It was at that time Dave became very interested in trains which has since lasted a lifetime.

Dave moved from Nanaimo to Duncan in 1957 and lived on Maple Bay Road. It was there he got involved in music. In 1960 Dave formed a rock'n roll band and for three years his band played at highschools and community halls all up and down Vancouver Island.

In 1963 Dave graduated from Cowichan High and then enrolled at UBC taking mechanical engineering. Throughout those years he did did very little in music but did perform at sing-a-longs. Upon graduating from UBC, in 1969 Dave moved to Montreal to start his new job. It was then he joined the Montreal Workshop and began singing and song writing his songs. In April of 1971, Dave married Marlene and in the fall they both went to Port Alberni where Dave worked in the pulp and paper mill and they began starting a family. In 1972 Dave formed a group of Port Alberni musicians and began recording his songs at Jim Rutherford's home studio.

In 1973 Dave went to a recording studio, Studio 3, in Vancouver with his songs and played them for Studio manager Ralph Harding. Ralph liked his songs and assigned studio producer Jake Doell to record an album entitled Kettle Valley Line Two singles from album were Now and Then and Walk that Endless Highway. Both singles got action on Canadian Country charts.

There was a management change at Studio 3 and Dave planned another album which was to be produced by Martin Shaer. The album was called Endless Highway. The single Emily Carr World of Small did well but the rest of the album didn't get much attention.

In 1980 Dave ended his career in music - or so he thought.

In 1993 Dave met an old acquaintance in music Ed Molyski at a Vancouver music conference. Together they planned a new CD which included Dave's new songs and some of the old songs rerecorded. The CD was called This Land is What I Am. It was released in 1995. Reception was cool but many remarked favourably about his railroad songs.

Recognizing their interest, Dave did a concept CD featuring his own railway songs and covers of other railroad songs by Gordon Lightfoot, Ray Griff, and Jimmy Rankin. Dave called the CD Songs and Sounds of Canadian Steam. Besides the songs the CD has steam locomotive whistles on some of the tracks

At the time of release (1998) Dave suffered a stroke so everything was put on hold.

In 2001 Dave ran expensive ads in Trains Magazine Kalmbach Wisconsin. His friends thought he was making a big error. He was creating mailorder service. The results were very amazing. For Dave's investment paid off in spades over a 3 year period.

But Dave's biggest achievement was yet to come.

Vancouver composer/arranger Dr Larry Nickel was commissioned by internationally known men's choir Chor Leoni to find folk songs from every Province in Canada. The chosen songs would be included in their 2005 Bard on the Beach concerts and then on the CD Canadian Safari 2.

Dr. Nickel could only find one B.C. song, Williams Lake Stampede, by veteran B.C. singer/songwriter Alan Moberg suitable for the project. Dr. Nickel asked Alan if he knew of other songs from B.C. that might be suitable. Alan recommended that Dr. Nickel contact Dave.

At Dr. Nickel's request, Dave sent his railway CD to see if some of the songs were suitable. Dr. Nickel chose three of Dave's songs Royal Hudson, Kettle Valley Railroad and Canadian Hobo's Lullaby. They were performed by Choir Leoni at their concerts and Royal Hudson and Kettle Valley Railroad were included on their CD Canadian Safari 2.

Cypress Choral Music published Royal Hudson and Kettle Valley Railroad and put the songs into their catalogue.

The results have been astounding for Royal Hudson primarily because of Dr. Nickel's brilliant arrangement. The song has now been performed by over 150 choirs in Canada, the U.S., Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. Other songs that have also done well are Dave's fishing song Old Lady Rose and his song about Vancouver Island This Land is What I Am.

Dave feels that one of his best achievements was having 20 Ontario choirs perform his work.

Dave's career in music is winding down now. His railroad songs Royal Hudson and Kettle Valley Line are considered Canadian cult classics. Dave is now recognized as a composer of Canadian folk songs.

His work will live on for decades to come.




Baker, Dave