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Baker, Lucy (1836–1909)

Lucy Baker, the first Presbyterian single woman to work with Canadian Aboriginals, devoted her life to missionary work. Born in Summerstown, Ontario in 1836, she was adopted by her aunt after her mother’s death, and lived in Dundee, Quebec. She was educated there and at nearby Fort Covington, New York. She taught in the United States, but returned home when the Civil War erupted. On October 28, 1879, she arrived in Prince Albert, where she taught until the Resistance of 1885; at this time her house became a hospital for the wounded. She then resumed teaching, and when Nisbet Academy opened in 1887 she taught there until it burned down in 1890.

Subsequently Baker opened a school for refugee Sioux from the United States, who had settled across the river from Prince Albert. Her learning their language won the respect of Chief Tomas. In 1895 she was instrumental in establishing the Wapeton Reserve (Round Plain Reserve), about thirteen miles from the Prince Albert settlement: a mission house and a log school were built, and she lived and worked there until retirement in 1905. Baker returned east and died on May 30, 1909, in Montreal. In 1954 Baker Lake was named in her honour.

Phyllis Carlson

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