Biographical Sketch of Godfrey P. Baker
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Godfrey Phipps Baker, postmaster of Ottawa, descended from the Bakers of Sissinghurst, Cranbrooke, England, and is the second son of George William Baker, by Ann, the eldest daughter of John Cole, once Mayor of Norwich. Was born at Shooter’s Hill, Woolwich, England, in August 1822. His father was a captain in the Royal Artillery, and having sold his commission, came in 1832 to Upper Canada, settling at Bytown, then a village in its infancy, and very unpromising at that. Two years later, Captain Baker was appointed post master, to fill a vacancy caused by the demise of Matthew Connell; and for some years the elder brother of our subject, Hugh Cossart Baker, had charge of the office, the present postmaster rendering such assistance as he could, being a lad just entering upon his teens.
Forty and fifty years ago, the present county of Carleton was in the Dalhousie Distrct, and in 1842 Mr. Baker, though being then under age, was chosen district clerk, a position which he faithfully filled for four years, and at the same time that of slide master of the old Buchanan slide, which eventually passed into the hands of the Bank of Upper Canada. In 1846, his brother removed to Toronto, and our subject took full charge of the Bytown post office; and in 1857, on the resignation of his father, the son became his successor, and has held the office for twenty-three years. It is one of the best managed post offices in the Dominion of Canada; and the growth of its business can best be understood by the statement of the fact that twenty-eight years ago Mr. Baker managed the office alone, and that now he has a staff of forty-one clerks. Ottawa, being the capital, a vast amount of “free matter” passes through this office, making a great deal of work without any showing in dollars and cents; yet the post office returns show only two offices in the Dominion those of Montreal and Toronto that are ahead of Ottawa. Mr. Baker has been for a long time connected with the militia of Canada, and has held various positions, being at one time an officer of the 2nd Carleton militia, and later a member of the Civil Service Rifles.
Mr. Baker married first in 1852 Elizabeth Julia, third daughter of Colonel Frederick W. Clements, of the Royal Canadian Rifles, by Alicia Brickenden, granddaughter of the sixth Earl of Caven, and by her, who died in 1858, had four children, only two of them now living. He married, secondly, in 1861, Marion Johanna, eldest daughter of Dr. John Macauley Hamilton, who after retiring froth Royal Navy, brought his family from Orkney to Canada, and settled at Hamilton, and by her has eight children.
He is a member of the Church of England, a man of irreproachable character; warm hearted, social and kindly in his disposition, and a friend of the unfortunate. Some writer says he has ” mown gray in the public service” which is correct; but he has not grown old, in feelings at least. He belongs to that class who take good care of themselves; keep on the sunny side of life’s broad highway, and are always young. He stands a good chance to “fly in the face of Scripture,” as Joseph Chuzzlewit would say, who maintained that anybody who lived beyond the Bible allotment of time three score years and ten could not have a conscience, and “a proper sense of what was required of him,” not having any business to live beyond that number of years.