Baby, James

James Baby (bap Jacques), officeholder, politician, militia officer (b at Detroit, Mich 25 Aug 1763; d at York [Toronto] 19 Feb 1833). Son of wealthy Detroit merchant Jacques Baby, dit Dupéront, he was an obvious choice when Lord Dorchester recommended adding "one or two Canadians" from Detroit to the lists of executive and legislative councillors for the proposed province of Upper Canada. Appointed to both councils in 1792, he sat for life. Described by John Graves SIMCOE as a "French Gentleman of indisputable loyalty," Baby was regarded as the perfect liaison with the French-speaking, Roman Catholic community in the western extremity of the province. He held a plurality of offices during his lifetime, the most important being inspector general.

On his appointment in 1816 he moved to York. Assiduous in his attention to duty, he was of limited abilities. "A man of most Gentlemanly manners tho' rather slow of apprehension" was how John STRACHAN put it. Although not a cipher, Baby was susceptible to Strachan's bullying on important issues. On one famous occasion, noted by William Lyon MACKENZIE, the affable and gentle Baby was reduced to tears by Strachan's tactics.