b. Ransford Baker, 1917, North Tilley, New Brunswick, Canada. His grandfather brought with him from Germany the old family violin, so it was expected that the boy would continue the family tradition and play the instrument. He also learned to play guitar and in 1937, he made his radio debut on CFNB Fredericton and played dancehalls with a local band until 1940. He volunteered for military service in World War II but failed his medical and for a time worked in a bakery in Woodstock. He formed his Maritime Ranch Boys (he played guitar and sang lead vocals) and throughout the war years played dancehalls and army bases both in Canada and over the US border in Maine, sometimes working with other Canadian acts including Hank Snow and Big Slim, The Lone Cowboy. In 1945 Baker formed the Kidd Baker Show, which featured his singing wife, Ada, and his brother Bob, and initially Glenn Carson, a 12-year-old fiddling sensation. He concentrated his shows in the New Brunswick area and soon became a popular radio act. After two years, he moved his operations to Ontario, initially spending some 10 years based at Kitchener before moving to Hamilton where, in the early 50s, he made his first recordings for Gordon Thompson’s Gavotte label (he had recorded numerous radio transcription discs at various stations but no actual records). In 1954, he became a regular on the new CHSJ-TV until 1955, when he bought a restaurant in Woodstock. He made further recordings in 1956/7 for Thompson’s Quality label. Baker’s show played a regular weekly programme on CFNB, where he had made his debut, until his wife died from cancer. He soon sold the restaurant and in 1973, he retired from music. During his career, Baker wrote several popular songs, the best-known being ‘Wheeling Back To Wheeling’ popularized by Doc Williams. It perhaps surprised many people when he later married his dead wife’s sister and settled at Arthurette, New Brunswick. (His brother Bob moved to Kitchener and started an upholstery business.) Baker never secured album releases during his career but in 1986, compilations of his Gavotte and Quality recordings were released by a German label. The recording quality of Thompson’s originals was not great but they enable one to hear this once-popular Canadian artist.
Share this page