Baikie, Margaret

Author and diarist born in Mulligan (Lake Melville, Labrador, Nunatsiavut) in 1844 – died in Nunatsiavut in 1940.

Margaret Baikie, born Margaret Campbell, was the eldest daughter of Lydia and Daniel Campbell. Lydia Campbell, born to an Inuit mother and an English father, was the first Inuit Labradorian woman to write the story of her life (Sketches of Labrador Life, 1980 [1894]). Margaret Baikie grew up in Mulligan (also known as Lake Melville), a settlement sixty-six kilometers northeast of Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Newfoundland and Labrador. Her mother passed on Inuit traditional knowledge concerning hunting, trapping, fishing, medicines, sewing clothing and food preparation. Hunting and trapping became passions for Margaret Baikie and her exploits are described in her writing. Testimonials from her descendants in the magazine Them Days recount other skills, including embroidery and beadwork.

As an adult, Margaret Campbell met Thomas Baikie, a Scotsman from Leith (Scotland, UK), who was passing through Canada as an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company. After finishing his HBC contract, they married and settled permanently in Labrador. Together they had eight children. Not much is known about Margaret Baikie's adult life: no written record has been located. It is probably because what we do know about her life comes from her own autobiographical stories of her childhood.

In 1917, at the age of 73, Margaret Baikie wrote a memoir about growing up in Labrador. More than thirty years after her death, her niece Flora Baikie submitted a copy of this memoir to the oral history magazine Them Days, who assembled the text into a book. Her memoir was published posthumously as Labrador Memories: Reflection at Mulligan (1976) and it was reprinted in 1983. In these chronicles, Baikie recounts memories and anecdotes, the oldest of which date back to 1846. She also retells from her perspective, some of her mother’s stories contained in Sketches of Labrador Life (1980). The writings of Lydia Campbell and Margaret Baikie are considered a valuable historical and literary resource as they provide detailed accounts of daily life in Labrador during this time.

A project to publish stories about the Baikie family entitled Up and Down the Bay: The Baikie Family of Esquimaux Bay was initiated by Leslie D. Baikie in 1989. She compiled several family stories, including some by Margaret Baikie. However, this project has yet to come to fruition. The Centre for Newfoundland Studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s holds this project’s manuscript.

Like Christianity, literacy was an important part of Margaret Baikie's mother, Lydia Campbell’s life and she made sure to pass on these two passions to her many children. As a result, Margaret Baikie and her half-brother Thomas Blake followed their mother’s example by both publishing books about their lives in Labrador. Lydia Campbell’s long literary lineage was studied in Dale S. Blake’s doctoral dissertation entitled "Inuit Autobiography: Challenging the Stereotypes" (University of Alberta, 2000). This lineage includes Elizabeth Goudie, niece of Margaret Baikie and author of Women of Labrador. It also includes Doris Saunders, the founder and editor of  Them Days, who happens to be Margaret Baikie's great-niece.

Margaret Baikie died in the fall of 1940 in Nunatsiavut, where she had lived all of her life.

This biography is based on the available written material during a collective research carried out during 2018-2021. It is possible that mistakes and facts need to be corrected. If you notice an error, or if you wish to correct something in an author's biography, please write to us at and we will be happy to do so. This is how we will be able to have more precise presentations, and to better promote Inuit culture.

(c) International Laboratory for Research on Images of the North, Winter and the Arctic, Université du Québec à Montréal, 2018-2021, Daniel Chartier and al.