Emotions flowed as the Lloydminster community gathered to remember a pillar of the region who has left his legacy on several aspects of community life.
Family members including the wife of the late Ken Baker, Mrs. Jean Baker were on hand as the city of Lloydminster chose to rename the West Lloydminster park in honour of Ken Baker, long-serving mayor and councillor.
Baker led a life of community service at council for over two decades retiring in 2019, and serving as mayor from 2000-2009.
Following the unveiling, Jean Baker said that her late husband would be honoured and humbled as he was not one for fanfare for himself.
“I think it’s so fitting because we lived just a few blocks away for 50-years and Deb went to school over at the Martin Browne school when it was here; and hours of playtime at the pool and at the park. It’s just a perfect spot for recognition and it truly is very special for all of us.”
Several buildings and community spaces including the Servus Sports Centre and the Vic Juba Community Theatre came about through the efforts of Ken Baker; either when he was on council or through his efforts with service clubs, especially the Kinsmen and Kinettes.
That group was key to the establishment of the outdoor pool through its fundraising in the 1950s. When approached for the renaming of the park, group members felt pleased to see the legacy of Baker memorialized in that way. For years it was named the Kin-Kinette Park.
In reflecting on the occasion, president of the Kinsmen Club Tom Hall says they have always been honoured by the role that the club has played in the community in things like the outdoor pool.
“I think anyone that’s from here growing up has some wonderful memories of the outdoor pool growing up and it’s wonderful to also be able to honour Ken Baker who is a pillar of the community and has been for such a long time. I would say a pillar and a staple coming together. It just makes sense and we are proud to be supportive of that,” Hall said.
Mayor Gerald Aalbers says as a new mayor, he “treasured time spent with Ken” and those moments both in and out of the council chamber have been beneficial to all council members.
Aalbers adds that since Baker’s passing in late 2020, council and administration “have been searching their hearts for a way to honour his decades of public service and the important role he played in the formation of modern-day Lloydminster.”
In saluting the work of the Kin-Kinette Club and Ken Baker, Aalbers noted that Baker was “deeply passionate about creating opportunities for recreation and community gathering.”
“Ken was a dedicated member of the Kinsmen Club for many years, which makes naming this park especially fitting. The Kinsmen and Kinette Clubs of Lloydminster have supported enhancements in this area since the 1950s. In fact, they are largely responsible for the construction of the outdoor pool behind me. We thank the Kinsmen and Kinettes for their support of our effort to honour Ken in this way, and we look forward to adding some pieces of recognition in this park in the coming days.”
Aalbers concluded by saying the late Ken Baker was “one of the greatest community ambassadors” that Lloydminster has ever known.