McCall Gardens

Michael passed away peacefully in Victoria, British Columbia on January 13, 2017 at the age of 79.  He was born in England in Brighouse, Yorkshire, on September 27, 1937.  He is predeceased by his father, Stanley and mother, Dora. Michael is lovingly remembered by his children, Dean, Bradley, Alison and Jason; grandchildren, Cameron, Calvin, Sarah, Shaelee, Andrew and Elliott; his sister, Greeba, brothers, David, Richard and James.

In England, Michael attended King Edward 6th Grammar School in Chelmsford, Essex.  He was an excellent athlete and a member of the school’s soccer and swim team. In 1953, Michael immigrated with his family to Canada. Carrying on his family’s legacy of military service, he joined the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) and was assigned to the Mobile Strike Force.  In 1959, he began his long career in the newspaper and publishing business.  In the 1960’s, he worked in sales for Weekend Magazine where he soon became Managing Director.  Michael also headed the book division of The Montreal Star (Infocor, which was transitioned to Optimum Publishing in 1975).  Michael acquired Optimum Publishing from Thompson Publishing in 1980 and continued to publish many authors late into his life.

Books like Fred Bruemmer’s The Arctic and Children of the North, Margo Oliver’s Most Treasured Recipes, Gregory Clark Classics, and others were among his many accomplishments. He also covered The FLQ crisis, The OKA uprising and as a journalist, covered the first Iraq war.  Michael and Craig MacLaine were two of the first journalists to witness The Highway to Hell.

Aside from literature, sailing and fly fishing were his two favorite pastimes. He was never more at home than when he was enjoying adventures on the rivers, lakes and oceans.

Special thanks to the hospital staff at the Royal Jubilee Hospital and the Victoria General Hospital who helped care for him in the last month of his life.

Cremation was January 18th at Royal Oak Crematorium in Victoria, BC.  A celebration of life will take place in Victoria, British Columbia and Ontario in the Spring.

“We are so lightly here. It is in love that we are made and in love we disappear”  Leonard Cohen.

Condolences may be offered to the family below.

McCall Gardens

  • Laurel Griffiths
    March 8, 2017

    I remember Michael’s kindness and encouragement in the seventies and early eighties, as my boss. He walked the talk with respect to feminism. He encouraged me to follow a chosen career and educational path while helping me, as my employer, maintain balance in my home life. Please accept my deepest sympathy. Laurel Griffiths Sullivan

  • Kay Beattie
    February 22, 2017

    My heartfelt sympathy to the family of Mike Baxendale. Mike came into our lives when my husband, BGen Clayton Beattie (now deceased) wanted to record the contribution of Canadians to peacekeeping in Cyprus. Mike assisted him with the writing and publishing of The Bulletproof Flag. Apart from his talent both of us appreciated his warmth and friendship. He talked often of his children with affection. And, his widespread knowledge helped so many others tell their stories in a way that reflected their own humanity. He and his enthusiasm for life will be missed.

  • Cathy Carder
    February 15, 2017

    Sweet Allison, Roger and Elliot,
    You know that my heart is full and ever with you as you grieve and say goodbye.
    May you sense God’s loving arms about you giving you comfort, strength and hope.

  • Lynn Jeffery
    February 14, 2017

    Fascinating to read of Mike’s adventures and as a journalist in the first Iraq war. What an amazing life. I was privileged to have known him. Warmest regards & sympathies to his family.

  • Heather Megill
    February 14, 2017

    Michael was truly a force of nature. One of the best story tellers I have ever known. He was a great Comrade in Arms and a good friend. I will miss his conversation and advice on cooking. My deepest sympathies.

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