The Baker family celebrates 125th reunion anniversary in St. Thomas, Ont.

The 100th anniversary of the Baker Family Reunion in 1998. The family will celebrate 125 gatherings together on June 18, 2022, in St. Thomas, Ont. Jay Baker (supplied)

The Baker family first gathered for their annual summer picnic in 1898 on the Highbury Avenue homestead.

Now, the big family is gearing up for an even bigger reunion as they plan to celebrate 125 years of family gatherings.

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Gathering on the third Saturday of every June, the Bakers are believed to be Canada’s longest consecutively running family reunion.

In 1897, William and Margaret Baker and their 10 children emigrated to North Yarmouth, Ont., just north of St. Thomas, from Cornwall, England.

The family reunion began as a celebration of their arrival.

“How many people still do family reunions? There’s not many, to tell you the truth,” said Jay Baker, a descendant of the Baker family and a manager of creative services at Corus Entertainment, which owns Global News.

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According to Baker, not even a global pandemic can break traditions.

Screen grab of the virtual June 2020 Baker Family Reunion on ZOOM. Jay Baker (supplied)

Family members from across the country and continent turned on their cameras and met virtually over Zoom in 2020 and 2021.

“We have a group of about 10 people that really work together to make sure that we can continue to do this because it’s always been done,” said Baker.

Marking the 125-year milestone will also be complete with the return to an in-person reunion at Pinafore Park in St. Thomas, a familiar picnic spot for a lot of Bakers.

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Although the event will be held away from a screen, the family’s iconic reunion will still see some differences this year compared to previous ones as the traditional potluck lunch has converted into a bring-your-own dining experience.

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Baker estimates anywhere between 125 and 150 family members will be celebrating together this Saturday, some travelling from as far away as California and Florida.

However, for the 100th anniversary of the Baker Family Reunion in 1998, more than 400 people gathered to reminisce.

Baker said that their weekend festivities include William and Margaret Baker re-enactors as well as plentiful opportunities to sing the Baker Family Song.

“It was written by an ancestor of Dr. Julie Allen and John P. Allen, who was a member of the London Music Hall of Fame,” he said.

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At its core, Baker said the annual reunions are a day filled with family fun, catching up and memorabilia. Something that nobody wants to be responsible for ending any time soon, he added.

Jay Baker is an employee at Corus Entertainment.

The inaugural Baker Family Reunion of 1898 held at the Baker homestead on Highbury Avenue. Jay Baker (supplied)

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