Cappy Yates Park, at the corner of Wallace Street and Fitzwilliam Street, in Nanaimo’s “Historic Old Quarter”, was once the site of the Yates family home and is named for Captain Arthur Yates.
We will include biographical details on both men in the near future.
Here are some websites with more information on Captain Arthur Yates and Albert Francis Yates:
Here’s an article that appeared in the Nanaimo Free Press to commemorate Arthur Yates’ 100th birthday in 1983:
“He’s lived a century – and enjoyed it
By DAVID FORBES – Staff Writer
If Arthur “Cappy” Yates had his life to live over again – all 100 years of it – he would gladly do it again because it’s actually been a good life, and one he doesn’t regret.
Sunday’s the big day for Yates, who was born Arthur Fitzgerald Yates, the youngest of three children of Sarah Kinnear Nelson and Albert Francis Yates, on July 24, 1883 at Auckland, New Zealand.
For a man of his age, Arthur Yates is in remarkable good health, of sound mind, and says that if he had his life to live over again he surely and truly would.
He comes from a long line of seafaring men and would jump at the opportunity to return to the sea.
Yates spent most of his childhood on the high seas aboard his father’s sailing ship, the Albania, until he was old enough to go to school in Oakland, California.
His parents, who were married Dec. 11, 1878 at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, were aboard the sailing ship on which the elder Yates was master when it came time for the younger Yates to be born. Their other children were Ethel Annabel Yates, born Sept. 9, 1878 at Port Louis on the island of Mauritius, and Charles Fergus Yates, born Dec. 13, 1880, also at Port Louis. Chalres died an infant and was buried at sea.
In 1900, Yates’ father was appointed as marine pilot at Nanaimo, and two years later the younger Yates first arrived at the then busy coal mining centre. The family lived at Wallace and Fitzwilliam Streets [note: the site of the family home is now “Cappy” Yates Park].
For a while he worked for the Dunsmuir family’s shipping company, working on coal ships that took vancouver Island coal to Alaska and California.
He later worked for the Dollar Steamship Company as second officer, hauling wheat and lumber to the Orient.
Then in 1908 Yates returned to Nanaimo and started work with the federal fisheries department as master of a patrol boat – a job he kept until retiring in 1947.
While working on the patrol boat Alcedo, Yates remembers working with Raymond Collishaw, who received his master’s certificate while working with the fisheries department.
“Then he went into the air service and was recognized as a war hero,” says Yates, who maintained his friendship with Collishaw until his death a few yeas ago.
Most of his memories of being at sea are good memories, like those of working with Collishaw.
They go back to the days of sailing ships when he was with his father, rounding the treacherous Cape Horn off the tip of South America.
“I was taken on deck to see this place. Dad threw a shawl around me. It was a bit foggy and the ship was rolling,” says Yates, moving his hands in a rocking motion to indicate the intensity of the rolling. “Dad said, ‘there, my boy. That’s Cape Horn.”
Yates also remembers the youthfulness of his father as a sea captain, when, on more than one instance, a passenger asked one of the deck hands for the skipper.
“The mate, or whoever he was, told them to see my father. They couldn’t believe he was the master. He was called the boy skipper, not the old man like most sea captains.” he says.
The sea has been part of his life, and today Yates still keeps it that way, living in his own house, next to his son Nelson Yates, overlooking Hudson Rock and Snake Island.
When he wasn’t at sea, he had time to get married and help raise a family. He married Beatrix Margaret Planta at Nanaimo on April 14, 1914. They had three children: Marion Eldridge of Vancouver, Nelson Yates of Nanaimo and Annabel Yates of Vancouver. In addition there are six grandchildren and one great-grandson. Mrs. Yates died in 1974 after 60 years of marriage.
(Planta Road is named for Mrs. Yates’ father, building contractor Jeffrey Evan Planta while Planta Park is named after her uncle, Albert Planta.)
When asked why he has lived so long, and maintained such good health, Yates says he has always taken care of himself, that “the sea had a lot to do with it” and that a little coffee or Scotch once in a while doesn’t hurt.
“I never had a cold or anything all the years I was at sea. And I smoked cigars until I was 82,” he says.
His only health related problem is that he’s been troubled with bad eyesight in the past few years and has had to have some cataracts removed.
Ten years ago his doctor told him not to do any heavy work, but that didn’t slow him down a bit as he continued to live on his own and do a lot of garden work and walking. Up until about two years ago he raked up all the fallen leaves in the autumn.
“I’m happy. I just take things as life comes and I don’t worry,” says Yates, adding that he enjoys listening to music of symphony orchestras. His favorite piece is The Holy City. [note: see video below]
He says he has a lot to be thankful for and advises that it is important to drink and smoke only in moderation, and to get out into the fresh air as often as possible and walk.
He’s led an active life since he retired, being a member of the masonic organization for 75 years, and a past member of the local historical and horticultural societies.
Throughout the years he has seen the world change to what it is now, which has included the development of radio and television and methods of travel.
“The wireless (radio) was just coming in in 1900,” he says. “Now you can use a radio-phone (from a boat at sea) and call the missus to tell her you’ll be home for supper tomorrow night.”
Yates thought television was quite the thing when his son managed to get one of three sets brought to Nanaimo in 1951.
Since then he has marvelled at the feats of man, particularly of astronauts in space.
“I watched the men walk on the moon,” he says.
“In my estimation, the only way to go anywhere was by ocean.”
For a travelling man, Yates once said he would never go in the air, but at the age of 79 he got on a plane and flew to England.
“It didn’t bother me at all when I got on,” he recalls.
He’s always happy to spend time talking to “young” people, talking about his life and the days gone by.
An open house will be held in his honor from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, at the home of his son Nelson, at 3570 Planta Road, off Hammond Bay Road. Friends are invited to attend.”
(Source: Nanaimo Free Press, 1983, from Nanaimo Community Archives collections)
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