The Baker Tent
This is a wonderful tent for those who like to sit back and view a fire. Although it is not historically authentic to the fur trade era, the baker tent is one of the most popular tents at the rendezvous. This tent has been surrounded by controversy at times. Some reenactors claim they were not in use during the 1800ís. There have been documented accounts of folks using them and living in them since at least the 1850's. (Thoreau stayed in one during his "roughing it" stage, and described it in detail.) These tents were available for purchase during the 1860's, although most accounts state they were homemade or locally made models. It is likely that refugees and frontier folks used these tents due to their superb practicality.
Baker tents look much like one half of a wall tent with an awning over the open side. This awning can be lowered to close up the tent for privacy. Baker tents got their name from a resemblance to the reflector ovens used by some bakers. Like a reflector oven, they were heated by building a fire in front of the tent--the shape of the tent captured the heat and kept the occupants warm and cozy. My first rendezvous, I camped in a Baker tent and stayed nice and warm. (Thanks Ron and Barb)
Due to the built-in awning, these tents are ideal for many uses. They provide ample shade and shelter for many impressions. Refugees would likely have rigged up a tent much like the baker to keep warm in cold weather.
Two people can easily erect a baker's tent. Some require more poles than others, depending on the design and size of the tent.
A baker can be made from the 10 oz. canvas drop cloths obtained from local hardware stores. I recently saw 12 x 15 sized drop cloths of natural color 10 oz. canvas for about $30 each. A couple of those and some do-it-yourself time can make for a great shelter that looks authentic and can be used for years. Treating the canvas can be done using Thompson's Water Seal or some equivalent sealer that is easy to apply. Set your shelter up, then spray it real good and let it cure. Now you're ready to go.