Lieutenant-Colonel George Harold Baker (1877-1916) Hero of East Bolton
One of the great heroes of the First World War, Colonel Harold Baker was closely linked to East Bolton, a little known fact.
George Harold Baker came from a large family of Loyalists. After the American Revolution, his great grandfather, Joseph Baker, left Massachusetts with his wife and children to live in Dunham, Eastern Townships. His grandfather and his father harboured Loyalist sympathies, which they transmitted to the young George Harold, affectionately called Harry.
Three members of the immediate family influenced the young Harry: his grandfather, his father, and an uncle – all three became members of the Militia, the army reserves of the time. Harry joined the militia as well in 1903. The three were elected as members of Parliament; Harry became a deputy in 1911 when he was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a member of the Conservative Party. George Harold was an authentic Conservative. Like his parents and forefathers, he respected the British Crown and the Union Jack, and he was a fervent defender of the British Empire.
His three close relatives were active in business and Harry would be also. He became an attorney like his father and practiced with him in Sweetsburg (now Cowansville) and then Montreal. Glenmere, East Bolton
The most notable trait of Harry Baker was perhaps his love of nature. Farmers for generations, the Bakers lived close to nature and animals. The family owned property in East Bolton (now Bolton-Est) that was originally a private fishing and hunting club. Over the years, the house, Glenmere, became their summer residence. It is probably at Glenmere that Harry developped his connections to nature. Two of his sisters, Harriet and Effie, stayed regularly at Glenmere between 1910 and 1920. In 1915, when George Harold joined the military full time, he provided as a reference his sister Effie of “Bolton Centre.”
The Bakers liked animals. In his letters from Europe, Harry described the picturesque countryside and noted in England the splendid cattle, horses and sheep, commenting that he “didn’t see one single poor cow, only two old horses all the day through.” Morning Glory, his mare
Harry’s affection for horses was so deep that he established the 5th Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles, a cavalry unit comprised of volunteers from the Eastern Townships.
Above all, Harry was close to his mare Morning Glory that he took to Europe in 1915. Unfortunately, it was decided that the Canadian cavalry would join the infantry so Harry had to leave Morning Glory. Yet Harry saw the mare again in Belgium in April and May of 1916 and he wrote that he hoped “some day to have her back”.
As to Morning Glory, a friend of Harry’s, General Dennis Draper, repatriated the mare to his farm at Sutton Junction in 1918. She lived a good life, providing mail delivery for many years. At her death in 1936, she was buried at Glenmere where a marble plaque commemorates her life.
Nowadays, on Montée de Baker Pond in East Bolton, the Glenmere property can still be admired: Baker Pond on one side, the Glenmere residence on the other. The site is just as peaceful, calling to mind a man and his horse who so much loved this corner of the earth. Each of them, in their way, made a contribution to Liberty.
George Harold Baker, at Glenmere, East Bolton, when he was elected M.P. for the riding of Brome.
Lt.-Col. Baker, 1st wooden grave marker, Poperinghe New Military Cemetery, Belgium, 1916.