Richard St. Barbe Baker Biographical Highlights
Richard St. Barbe Baker (1889-1982) Founder of Men of the Trees (MoTT) world renown horticulturist, and silviculturist ( a person who tends to trees) received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on 6 November 1971from the University of Saskatchewan. This honour was followed by an appointment bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II as Officer of the Order of the British Empire OBE in 1978. Baker attended Emmanuel College at the University of Saskatchewan as one of its first students in 1910. He first began working on his divinity degree and changed to the study of forestry after the Great War.
In 1922 Baker took the post of, Assistant Conservator of Forests in Kenya and while in Africa embraced the “Boy Scout Good-deed-a-day idea” (Oldfield. 1979) He called for volunteers, Watu wa Miti (Men of the Trees) to plant trees to restore the ravaged forests, and thus the international organisation, Men of the Trees was born. The group founded by Richard St. Barbe Baker, “Men of the Trees”, has as its slogan, TWAHMWE, meaning “All as one” or Pull together. Those candidates chosen to become members in Kenya were to “repeat solemnly the three-fold promise, “I promise before N’gai to do at least one good deed each day, to plant 10 trees each year, and take care of trees everywhere”. (The Sunday Morning Star 1930) Baker founded “ the ‘Children of the Green Earth’ movement, encouraging youngsters to seed and nurture baby trees. “Sullivan, 1981. P. 55
Baker headed to his alma-mater, the University of Saskatchewan where he hoped to found the first Canadian branch of “The Men of the Trees. “ (Spokane, 1932) “Forestry arose from a recognition of a universal need. It embodied the spirit of service to mankind in attempting to provide a means of supplying forever a necessity of life, and in addition ministering to his aesthetic tastes and recreational interest. The man who planted trees and created forests was rendering one of the greatest of services to his country. “This real life tree hero attended the U of S from 1909-1913 and his life’s work brought him back to receive an honorary doctorate in 1971. At the age of 91, while visiting Saskatoon in 1982, St. Barbe, as his friends called him, planted a tree near the Diefenbaker Canada Centre. He died three days later, and his body was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
He is an example of what one person can achieve in a lifetime and to this end the Baha’i Community of Saskatoon is planning an historical marker at the site.” White, 2002). “…The aim of the Men of the Trees is briefly ‘to develop a tree sense in every citizen, and to encourage all to plant, protect and love their native trees; for forestry is among the oldest and most honorable of the peaceful arts of men, and in its practice is unselfish and constructive service.” (The Sunday Morning Star 1930)
On June 9, 1982, Baker passed away aged 93 during a visit to Saskatoon. He is buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery, Saskatoon.
Oldfield, Barrie (1979) Interview between Barrie Oldfield, Man of the Trees in Perth and Richard St. Barbe Baker
Spokane Daily Chronicle. (1932) Works To Guard Forest Friends. June 10, 1932. Digitized online by Google news. Date accessed April 12, 2016.
Sullivan, Jane. (1981) The Man of the Trees and his magnificent obsession. The Age. Sept. 10, 1981. Digitized online by Google news. Date accessed April 12, 2016.
The Sunday Morning Star (1930) Found Tree-saving colony in Africa. Richard St. Barbe Baker, who will lecture here, writes of his adventures. . January 26, 1930. Page 5. Date accessed April 12, 2016.
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Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, SK, CA north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
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July 9, 2016 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area CLEAN UP Day PAMPHLET