Alban Baird Knechtel May 22, 1937 -- May 29, 2020 Baird was born in Hanover, Ontario to Bernice (nee Tulloch) and Alban Patrick Knechtel. He was the big step-brother to Kathryn (Lorne Helwig), John (Norma Jean), Richard (Janet) and Stephen (Dawn). He had a great love of music and chose to follow that path instead of the family furniture business. He attended the University of Toronto where he met and fell in love with Maria Eugenia Kohut.They married at St. Thomas Anglican church in Toronto on May 20, 1961 and later travelled extensively through Europe. Baird helped Maria design their Etobicoke home where they brought up their three children: Anastasia (Ian Silver), Barbara (John Wilds) and Karl. Baird received an ARCT special diploma for Viola and was an original member of Project Super for the Suzuki method. He shared his passion for music with students for more than 40 years over the course of his teaching career (pun intended!) at various high schools in North York. Many of his students went on to become accomplished professional musicians, and he proudly played at their street name dedication ceremonies. While teaching, he obtained his Masters of Music from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY, helped found the Chamber Players of Ontario, was President of the Ontario Musician's Association, founded the Canadian Viola Society, instructed at the International Music Camp, wrote several compositions, books and scores, participated in the Toronto International Music Festival (25 yrs), and played in virtually every venue in Toronto too!Baird hosted the Viola Congress 9 in Toronto and has received citations for distinguished service from both CVS and AVS, a lifetime achievement award from CVS, the Silver Viola Clef award from the International Viola Society, and is listed in the International Who's who in Music. After retiring, he performed with the Trio Bravo at local venues, and recently instructed at the Maggini Summer school in England and a camp in Parry Sound. He frequently attended concerts and events at many Ontario venues. He ardently supported the Conservatory of Music, the National Youth Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony, the Toronto Jazz Festival and was a member of the Duke Ellington society. Baird was an active Homestay "parent", being involved with international ESL students for over two decades. He attended a memoir writer's workshop and Italian language class.He became more involved in woodworking, where he was a member of the Franklin Horner Community Centre. There he built several pieces for friends and neighbours as well as his favourite bench and many items for his home. He joined the West Toronto stamp club and also enjoyed flying some of his model airplanes.He ventured near and far, attending Knechtel family reunions, Hanover Homecoming and Viola Congresses & Festivals in Oberlin, Cremona and New Zealand.He also explored his ancestry by visiting Scotland & the Orkney Islands and re-visiting Europe similar to his trip with Maria (dec. 2015). Baird leaves behind his three children and four grandchildren -- Tamarin, Kassandra, Camille and Theodore. The family would like to thank the staff at Queensway Health Centre and his doctors Muinuddin, Cifelli and Chopra for their invaluable assistance in providing Baird with the best quality of life possible over the past 7 years, also the Bayshore clinic where he attended treatments last year. Finally a big thank you to all the doctors, staff and most especially the nurses involved with his care at St. Joseph's hospital where he passed peacefully due to cancer. 
Online condolences can be made via _cardinalfuneralhomes.com_ . A celebration of Baird's life will be held at a future date. Contact [email protected] for information, and donations made in lieu of flowers will support his favourite musical organizations and charities.



Burial / Entombment / Cremation


January 19, 2022
Ernie Patai
I have arrived late here...I had the very good fortune to study under Mr. Knechtel from 1980-83 at NHSS. I took every class I could that involved music at the time. He was inspiring and took his teaching passionately. Like him, I also had a love of working with wood. At the time I had no idea he was involved in this endeavour. He helped students recognize their talent(s) and did his utmost best to develop them. Although I studied classical music growing up extensively I never pursued it further; though my love of music still runs in my veins. I often wondered about him and how he was over the years. For those who kept in touch with him I'm certain there were no regrets and filled with very memorable moments. I know he's left and immeasurable impression on many, as well, in the world of music. Thank you for all you've done for everyone. God bless you and family.
January 19, 2021
Mary and Tom Andrews
We are so saddened to learn of Baird's passing. He and his trio played at our wedding, during the dinner service and our first dance, 30 years ago. They were magnificent! Baird was very professional, dressed formally in a Tuxedo and the music was celestial. He was so kind and wonderful and so very talented. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones.
October 08, 2020
Keith Goddard
I just learned of Baird's passing from the RTO Newsletter, and I was shocked and saddened. I met Baird at Northview SS when I was just starting out teaching in the 90s. I worked with him for about four months and learned so much from him. He had a great sense of humour and was very helpful, and I learned very quickly that, above all, he took music very seriously. He has undoubtedly had an everlasting impact on scores of students. My condolences to his family and loved ones.
August 17, 2020
Lynda Joyce
I just felt drawn today to see what happened to my beloved music teacher. What a great man. I went to Riverdale High School from 1963-1968 and was lucky enough to study violin with him. I teased him when he became a father for the first time!! He gave me extra music and tried to persuade my parents to give me private lessons without success. When he left to go to another school, it wasn't the same. I always wanted to contact him to tell him that, even though I don't play the violin very well, I had so much fun with it over the years, playing in amateur orchestras and in a fiddle group. He was a man who gave a great deal of joy to others over the years and I send my sympathy to his family at their loss
July 06, 2020
Klaus Hintz
I met Al at the West Toronto Stamp Club meetings and enjoyed talking with him. He came across as a kind and engaged person. Though I met him only a few times, he left an impression on me, as somebody you loved music and life. He will be missed!
June 23, 2020
David McCulloch
Thanks to Mr. Knechtel, I have many fond and very special memories of music at Emery, 1969 to 1972. Kiwanis festivals, playing at the opening of Ontario Place, and playing at the National Arts Centre are just a few, not to mention his fantastic classes! I know many of my contemporaries went into musical careers because of Baird's passion and ability to motivate us, while challenging all of us to do our best. While I didn't pursue such a career, I still have an appreciation of music which I have been able to pass onto my children. Great job, Baird! Many thanks!
June 18, 2020
Kevin Tucker
I was truly saddened when i heard the news that "Mr. Knechtel has passed away. He truly was my favourite teacher at Northview Heights Secondary School . May i offer my deepest sympathies to all of you. He will be deeply missed by me and all his former students.
June 15, 2020
Susan Milankov
Franklin Horner Community Centre members and staff offer their condolences on the death of Baird. He was an active member of the Centre, attending most of our events, performing at some, but he is remembered best as one of our woodworkers. He was the whole package; kind, helpful, smart, funny, and talented. He will be missed.
June 15, 2020
Linda Condy
I was pleased to have had the honour to work with Baird in Newmarket when he played with the Blue Bridge Festival. I performed one concert with Trio Bravo and spent many lovely times rehearsing at Baird's beautiful home. He was a consummate musician and a lovely person. My sincere condolences.
June 14, 2020
Jack and Pam DeGroot
We enjoyed Baird's company on the RTO bus trips. We remember fondly Baird's Trio Bravo concerts and were honoured to attend a special music gathering at his home.
June 14, 2020
Marshall Loomer
Baird was my orchestra strings teacher in high school, first at Emery Collegiate, then at Northview Heights. He was so great that I followed him when he moved teaching positions. Mr. Knechtel convinced me to enter the Kiwanis Vocal Competition, which I did and I medaled. I always asked him why I can't play with the first violin section to which he replied, "you have a good harmony ear, stick with 2nd violin!" When Mr. Knechtel was away a while on sabbatical, writing music, Mrs. Knechtel took over as our teacher, she was so warm and nice to everyone and loved just as much. Today, perhaps because of Baird's influence, I am a full time Cantor and professional singer at Beth David Synagogue in Toronto for the past 20 years. I believe whole heartedly that Mr. Knechtel made an impact on many students, encouraging them to pursue music as a career. I hope that Baird and Maria are once again playing music in the heavens above. May their good names inspire all musicians and teachers and may they serve as a blessing upon all of us. May they together rest in peace. Cantor Marshall Loomer
June 14, 2020
Paul Besley
Paul Besley here, I was sad to read of Baird's passing. I remember Baird from the Franklin Horner Community Centre. Shared many a coffee and jokes with Baird and all the other guys there. Baird was always ready to help anyone else in the shop or at the centre. Met Maria at many functions at the centre. have been th his house a few times, usually delivering something he had built, because I had a truck. REST IN PEACE BAIRD! regards Paul & Ingrida
June 14, 2020
Cathy McCulloch
I had the privilege of being in the string music program at Emery CI (1968-1972) under the guidance of Mr. Knechtel. What an amazing teacher - from the many concerts, recordings, Kiwanis competitions to the exchange trip to Fox Chapel, when two busloads of 100 members of the Orchestra sang O Canada as we crossed the border - Baird was a professional in every sense of the word. He encouraged all members of the orchestra to give their best, telling us "if you're going to make a mistake - make it a good one, I need to hear it" While working on the plans for the schools 50th anniversary, I had the pleasure of sitting with Baird in his garden reminiscing about his years at Emery and the influence he had on many students. This visit also gave me the opportunity to tell him how much he had influenced me and the confidence he had instilled in me. R.I.P. Baird, you were an amazing influence on many. Job well done!
June 14, 2020
Bruce Douglas Barton, President
Baird was a treasured member of The Duke Ellington Society who was always positive and engaging. Through great determination he attended and enjoyed our meetings during his illness. He was an inspiration. On behalf of The Duke Ellington Society, I send condolences to his family and friends. Baird will be sadly missed.
June 13, 2020
Janice Grimshaw
Mr. Knechtel was my music teacher around 45 years ago at Emery Collegiate. He and his wife took a personal interest in me at a time when I needed it. I will never forget either of them or the advice that they gave me. It meant so much to me. My deepest condolences to the family.