Muriel Baxter would be pleased, descendent says

City of Cranbrook may name dog park after legendary schoolteacher

Arne Petryshen

The planned off-leash dog park may be named in honour of Muriel Baxter following a letter received by Cranbrook City Council in the Oct. 19 meeting.

A descendent of Muriel Baxter — the Cranbrook resident whose dedication to education was honoured with the naming of the former elementary school — had positive things to say about the city’s plan for a off-leash dog park.

The dog park is planned for the property that the school formerly sat on.

Kerrigan Scott Baxter wrote to city council and the letter appeared before council at the Oct. 19 meeting.

“I have recently noted that there is some debate in your city regarding the turning of the area that was previously occupied by the School into a ‘Doggy Park’,” Baxter said. “I would like to say that I would be pleased and I am sure that Muriel would also be to have this become a reality.”

Baxter said that he and his wife had the opportunity two weeks ago to observe the now vacant property. He said that while he doesn’t live in Cranbrook anymore, he and his family do visit on occasion and enjoy their time here.

“I would ask for a commemorative sign, plaque, or bench to be placed in the park to honour her and her dedicated service to the people and City of Cranbrook,” Baxter said.

Baxter said his family first moved to Cranbrook in 1904 from New Brunswick.

“My grandfather — and my Aunt Muriel’s father — was employed at that time with the King Lumber Co. in Cranbrook and was also a part-time game warden,” Baxter wrote. “Muriel was a member of a family that consisted of four daughters and one son, my father, Hedley. As a pioneering family the Baxters were very involved in the social, religious and educational formation of Cranbrook. Muriel was one of two daughters who did not marry — she devoted her life work to educating the youth of your great city, teaching there for many years and retiring as the superintendent of schools.”

Coun. Danielle Cardozo said she was very supportive of putting something in to memorialize Muriel such as a bench or benches.

Mayor Lee Pratt asked whether it was something the city would have to collaborate with the school district.

CAO Wayne Staudt said he didn’t think so.

“It’s just a budget issue,” Staudt said. “But I’d like to suggest that we were thinking of a name for the new dog park.”

Staudt said with the family’s blessing they would consider naming it in her honour.

“There was some concern addressed to me from the school district that that may not be appropriate, but I think once they see this letter, they will be much more supportive of us calling the park after the Baxter family,” Staudt said.

Baxter also noted his family, some of which also lives in the Creston area, was very pleased when they learned that the city had decided to dedicate a school in Muriel’s honour. They were later disappointed about its eventual closing in 2002 and its subsequent destruction by fire in 2008.

Baxter said his family has also always had a close connection with the animal community of Cranbrook, noting his grandfather the game warden and also his late brother — John Bruce Baxter. John left a sizeable amount of money to the Cranbrook SPCA, despite spending most of his life in North Vancouver and Calgary.