There is a quiet, modest — almost self-effacing — quality about James Baring, the sixth Lord Revelstoke.
He is a man who defies easy categorization. An English aristocrat of German extraction who prefers to be called, simply, James, he has to a large extent made his own way in the world.
“I have always been called James,” he said with a smile after he arrived at Minto Manor where he will be staying as guest of honour for this weekend’s 2009 Homecoming celebration.
A former RAF pilot, Baring made a name for himself in the British music industry in the 1960s and as a commentator on Internet development and climate change.
If anything, this trip to the city named after his ancestor is proving to be something of a journey of discovery for the 71-year-old.
The English peer — whose ancestor, Edward Charles Baring, the first Baron Revelstoke, bailed out the Canadian Pacific Railway — says he did not know the full story of his family’s connection with Canada until he succeeded his brother John in 2003.
“I didn’t know all of the details until then,” he said in an interview.
Baring, who was making not just his first trip to the city and National Park named for his ancestor but his first journey to Canada, said his brother had visited Canada as a boy of 12 and went on a grizzly bear hunting trip with a guide who used a bow and arrow to hunt the big bears.
“This bow was a massive thing,” Baring said. “He couldn’t draw the bowstring even when he stood on it and pulled with both hands. It must have taken tremendous strength to draw it.”
This Baring, however, has no plans to hunt anything while he is here. He is a man who appreciates the natural world and who enjoys talking about what maybe the No. 1 long-term issue facing our species — climate change. In fact, he spoke about this issue at the dinner held in his honour at the Golf Club Thursday evening by the Revelstoke Museum & Archives. You can read his musings on this issue, among others, at his website, http://revelstoke.org.uk
Baring doesn’t pretend to be a scientist but he hopes that by adding his voice to the ongoing global discussion about climate change he can help influence its outcome..
“I am not an expert but it is an issue I am deeply interested in.,” he said in the interview.