Lieutenant-Colonel James Baker was an English-born soldier and political figure in British Columbia, where he was the principal promoter of the town of Cranbook and served in the provincial legislature and cabinet. Born in London in 1830 (son of the important West Indies slaveholder Samuel Baker), he entered the Indian Navy in 1845, then in the late 1850s transferred to the British Army and fought in the Crimea. He left the army in 1858 and attended Cambridge University, where he was involved in the Prince Consort's plans for a military degree and became the commander of the University Rifle Voluneers in 1860 with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. In 1885, he and his family (his wife Sarah Louisa [White] and his sons Louis Samuel and James Baker) went to British Columbia, where they initially settled at Skookumchuck, then later near where Cranbrook was to be founded. Baker was involved in various land development schemes, including a deal with the Canadian Pacific Railway that led to a rail route which made Cranbrook an important commercial center. He served in the British Columbia Legislative Assembly as representative for Kootenay from 1886 to 1900, and as Provincial Secretary and Minister of Education, Immigration and Mines. He returned to England in 1900, dying at his home in Poole, Dorset, in 1906.