Kenneth Gilbert Baldwin was born in Amherstburg, Ontario on Tuesday, July 13, 1943 to parents Walter and Alva (Bridgen) Baldwin. The Baldwin family resided in the small village of Colchester, outside of Harrow, where Ken was joined by younger sisters Sue and Ann. He attended the local public school before attending high school in Harrow.
Ken soon relocated to Brampton where he commenced his Tool and Die Maker Apprenticeship with Northern Electric. It was around this time that opportunities became available to work abroad in this profession, so being young and single, Ken took full advantage of them. He packed his bags and moved to Taiwan where he spent two years, and this was followed by another two years in Mexico. By the early 1970’s he returned to Ontario and took a job opportunity with Ontario Hydro at Bruce Power Generating Station.
In 1982, his trade led him to St. Catharines where he enjoyed working at Penberthy, one of his highlights being special opportunities to meet and assist vintage steam enthusiasts with their Penberthy steam whistles and injectors.
In September of 1983, Ken was a member of the Niagara Corvette Club and attending an event; he was the proud owner of a black 1979, when his eye was drawn to a white 1979 model… or more like the owner of that car! 🙂 It was this evening that Ken would be introduced to his future wife, Lana Sildoja. The two hit it off immediately and in time Lana, and her son Jaak, 9, moved in with Ken. Jaak and Ken hit it off as well, and the two became very close, enjoying a great relationship throughout the remainder of their lives. Ken and Lana were married on October 22, 1988 and called St. Catharines home.
Through a close friend in the Corvette Club whom Ken considered like a brother, Ken was initiated into Freemasonry as an active member of Niagara Lodge No. 2 in June, 1987; a passion he carried with him throughout his life.
In 1990 a job opportunity became available at Bruce Power. Ken and Lana located a beautiful 40-acre parcel of land on the outskirts of Paisley that they soon called their own, constructing a house on the property together in the spring and summer of 1992. Ken remained at the Point until his retirement in 2011. In the final ten years of his career, Ken enjoyed teaching the craning & rigging course for Bruce Power at their training centre.
Life was not all work and no play though, and Ken enjoyed many pastimes and hobbies. He enjoyed photography and was accomplished working with stain glass. Ken also tried his hand at making jewellery and even took up quilting. As Lana put it, Ken often asked, “Show me how this machine works?” Once he got the hang of it, he was off to the races. In fact, his quilting accomplishments were impressive. Ken won best overall quilt at both the Harrow and Paisley Fairs, in different years… outstanding! He and Lana loved the outdoors and together they enjoyed a variety of camping excursions as well as travelling throughout Ontario waterways on their boat. If fishing and the fish were not biting, Ken would cast his line in 3 different locations, quickly reel his line in, and announce, “the fish are not biting” and move on… so it is safe to say he was not the most committed fisherman. On one trip when they were in a small anchorage northwest of Killarney, Ken tried his hand at a releasing nightline. Jaak was helping and he continued to roll out the line, never thinking about the end of the reel. Let’s just say the line disappeared below the surface of the water and the Baldwins caught no fish that night!
Ken was a collector too! He loved to get his hands on old tractor parts, or a new steam whistle or oil can for his collections. Travelling was another favourite pastime for Ken and Lana. They often travelled to B.C. and Nova Scotia to visit Jaak as he was a MARS Officer in the Navy. Likewise, through the years they travelled much of North America and enjoyed the two winters they spent in Arizona. It must also be added that Ken loved animals, particularly dogs. If he was on the street, he would stop to greet (and pet) every single dog he passed. At home, he received (and gave) his fair share of love and affection to his beloved labs, Quigley and Mocha (aka Fat Boy). In recent years he took a liking to reading gory novels and often didn’t put them down until the book was done. During these episodes, Lana would jokingly put on a “Hi, my name is…” just to keep him on his toes. He enjoyed his country music, and was particularly fond of singing, and could often be heard as he worked or moved around the house.
After moving north, Ken became a valued member of St. Lawrence Lodge No. 131. Through the years he progressed through the various chairs of the Lodge finally sitting as W.M. in 1996. Ken was elected D.D.G.M. of Bruce District in 2003 and represented the Grand Master in Bruce District and throughout the province. Ken was also a member of the Mocha Shrine Club, where he enjoyed clowning around as “Baldy” the clown.
Ken was a compassionate and kind man, who always put the needs of others, especially his family’s, before himself. He loved people and being social. He was extremely devoted to his family. Family time was very important to Ken, and he always looked forward to seeing Jaak, Darcy, Isaak, and Riva. Many memorable adventures were had with the grandkids on the oceanside searching for a variety of critters and shells. Ken was always interested in hearing about the latest activities and interests of his grandkids. He was never one to miss video call showing Lego creations, art projects, dance demonstrations, singing, ukulele and clarinet playing. In 2019 Jaak, Darcy, Isaak and Riva visited Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls. Ken and Lana spent time with them at the water park watching the kids go down the huge slides, playing arcade games, bowling and watching the kids enjoy all the great fun the Lodge had to offer. In recent years both he and Lana would travel to Nova Scotia to spend time with Jaak, Darcy and the kids at Halloween. They always enjoyed seeing Jaak’s creative Halloween displays and getting to trick or treat with the kids. He also looked forward to the Pillon Weekend spent with family every September. He truly will be missed! In recent years, Lana and Ken often volunteered at McGregor Park as camp hosts. Here they met a variety of people, from all walks of life, and enjoyed hearing of all their adventures.
Sadly, Ken was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, and although it set him back, he was brave and determined to fight and fight he did. Although he slowed down in recent years Ken was always up for watching a ball game on the TV or catching up with family and friends. He truly made the best of every day. Sadly, the cancer reappeared this past January. In recent months Ken was provided much love, care, and support from his sweetie, Lana, his family, and friends. Ken passed away with his loving wife by his side at South Bruce Grey Health Centre, Chesley on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 in his 79th year.
Beloved husband of Lana and father of Jaak Sildoja (Darcy McBay) of Fall River, N.S. He will be dearly missed by his loving grandchildren Isaak and Riva. Cherished brother of Sue (Jim) Young of Sudbury and Ann (Roger) Clark of Belleville. Ken will be forever remembered by his nephew Andrew, niece Allison (Wes) and their daughters Madison, Emma and great-nephew Nicholas. He was predeceased by his parents Walter and Alva (Bridgen) Baldwin.
In respecting Ken’s wishes, private family services will be held. Memorial donations to the Owen Sound Hospital Foundation, Heart and Stroke Foundation or Canadian Cancer Society would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.