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Baker Streets of the Kootenays

Updated: May 6, 2021

When he wasn’t out sleuthing, Sherlock Holmes lived at 221B Baker Street in London.

According to Wikipedia, at the time Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published his stories in the 19th century, that fictional address did not exist. But when the real Baker Street was extended, the Abbey National Building Society moved into 219-229 Baker, and “employed a full-time secretary to answer mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes.” In 1990, the Sherlock Holmes Museum, at 237-241 Baker, installed a plaque on the same block.

Holmes also had a brigade of street urchins nicknamed the Baker Street Irregulars, who acted as his eyes and ears.

Baker Street in Nelson has heritage-style lampposts.

In the Kootenays, we have two Baker streets, a Baker Avenue, and a Baker Lane. The former two are the main streets of Nelson (pictured above) and Cranbrook and both are named for Col. James Baker (1830-1906), who represented the provincial riding of Kootenay from 1886-90, East Kootenay from 1890-98, and East Kootenay South from 1898-1900.

In Nelson (pictured on the map below), 221 Baker corresponds to the Sacred Ride, a bike, ski, and snowboard shop. However, their address is given as 213 Baker. Shanti Yoga Studio next door is 237 Baker.

But the street numbering has changed over the years. In 1900, the Imperial Bank of Canada gave the address of its Nelson branch as 221 Baker, and stated that it was in the Burns Block, which is still standing. I don’t know if they ever made the connection to Sherlock Holmes.

Ad from the Nelson Tribune, Sept. 21, 1900.

The numbering changed by 1913 to resemble something closer to what we have now, but the street directory that year didn’t list a 221 Baker — only a 217 and a 223.

Alas, in Cranbrook, there is no 200 block of Baker, which stretches from the 800 block in the west to the 1400 block in the east. However, Jim Cameron, in his delightful history column for the Cranbrook Townsman, speculated on Sherlock Holmes’ reaction to learning of Cranbrook’s Baker Street — and revealed an indirect connection between James Baker and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as another possible connection between Cranbrook and Holmes.

In Salmo, Baker Avenue and Baker Lane are named for Edgar Crow Baker (1845-1920), one of the principals in the West Kootenay Land Co., which owned the townsite. He was an alderman in Victoria and was then elected to represent the city in parliament from 1882-89.

Although the original Salmo townsite plan included a 200 block of Baker Avenue, it no longer exists. It’s now the middle of KP Park.

Baker Street in Cranbrook

Baker Avenue in Salmo

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Mar 10, 2018

Elementary? Hardly. Another excellent sleuthing job, Greg.

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