The Next Chapter

Wade Baker and his wife Mary Tasi investigate his family connection to Washington's Mount Baker

Growing up, Wade Baker's father always pointed to Mount Baker and said 'That big mountain is our mountain.'
Wade Baker and his wife Mary Tasi bring Captain George Vancouver's journals to light in their new book. (Submitted by Wade Baker and Mary Tasi)

Wade Baker is a Coast Salish Squamish Red Cedar carver, designer and a sculptor. When he was young, his father would point out Mount Baker in Washington and say, "that's our mountain." Captain George Vancouver named it after his mapmaker, Third Lieutenant Josef Baker, ancestor of Wade Baker.

Baker and his wife Mary Tasi were very curious to learn more so they researched oral stories and personal stories that were, as they say, airbrushed out of the official accounts. What they learned is that Captain Vancouver and his officers maintained a respectful and successful trading relationship and family relationships with Indigenous people. Why was this such a mystery? Wade Baker and Mary Tasi has written a book called The Hidden Journals: Captain Vancouver & His Mapmaker.

'That's our Mountain'

WADE BAKER: "It all started when I was a young boy, a teenager, going to Cultus Lake and my dad would be driving down the freeway. He'd always point to that mountain, Mount Baker, and say to my brother and sisters and I, 'That big mountain is our mountain.' I mentioned this story to Mary and she got so enthralled in [the story of] Joseph Baker. We found it was so hush-hush; nobody would speak about it. Nobody would even put it on paper. Finally, Mary and I just went to Hawaii. We were in Lahaina and there was a map store there. It was very interesting because a lady pulled out [this map] and showed us his name on the corner, Third Lieutenant Joseph Baker and that's when it struck a chord."

Secrets revealed in journals

MARY TASI: "When we got access to Captain Vancouver's edited journals — his original ones have gone missing — I found page after page after page... saying things like, 'The communities I was in were more orderly than the most orderly towns in Europe' and 'I was treated better than the most enlightened nation on earth.' I mean this would be heresy back in England. I just could not believe what he was writing. The other thing I found that I thought was amazing was he several times says that he was very concerned about the prosperity, wellbeing and happiness of the people he was meeting."

Uncovering your ancestry

WADE BAKER: "It's interesting to find out that your DNA and ancestral bloodline is finally opened up. It made my life more full. I can grasp something that I never knew about and was forgotten."

Wade Baker and Mary Tasi's comments have been edited and condensed.