|Date of Birth||January 26, 1886|
|Place of Birth||Penetanguishene, Simcoe, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Elizabeth Ann Doherty, sister, Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||8th Battalion CRT|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Railway Troops|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Victoria, British Columbia|
|Address at Enlistment||Wilson Hotel, Victoria, British Columbia|
|Date of Enlistment||September 18, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||30|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||May 24, 1962|
|Age at Death||76|
|Buried At||Victory Memorial Park, Surrey, British Columbia|
James Wesley Bates was born on 26 January 1886 in Penetanguishene, Ontario. His parents were Robert and Cathrine Ann (née Quigley) Bates who had married in 1882 in Orillia. Over the years Robert was involved in the lumbering business. Known children born to the family were Elizabeth Ann (1884, Parry Sound, Ontario), James, Walter (1888, Penetanguishene), Ira (1890, Penetanguishene), and Rosa Norah (1897, Rat Portage, Ontario). At the time of the 1891 census the family was living in Penetanguishene and by Norah’s birth they had relocated to Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern Ontario. Sadly Cathrine died in 1898 in Rat Portage and is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. The 1901 census listed the family in Rat Portage, with Cathrine’s sister Rosanna living with the family and working as the housekeeper. Robert and Rosanna married in 1902 in Rat Portage. Although James was listed on the census with his family, he was also on the nearby Regina Mine census and working as a lumberer.
James signed his attestation papers on 18 September 1916 in Victoria, British Columbia. At the time he was living in the Wilson Hotel and working as a labourer. His place of birth was given as Kenora and his next of kin as his sister Elizabeth (James) Doherty in Kenora. The 211th Battalion, CEF was based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and began recruiting in early 1916 throughout British Columbia and Alberta. As a Private with the battalion, James arrived in England on 28 December 1916 aboard the Olympic.
Once in England James and the rest of the battalion were transferred to the 8th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops in March 1917. He arrived in France in late May. Canadian railway units played a major role in the construction and maintenance of railways of all gauges, including light railways, for the five British Army areas in France and Belgium. Suffering from scabies, James was a patient at the 50th Casualty Clearing Station in Hazebrouk, France for ten days. In early August of 1918 he was granted a fourteen day leave to the UK. With the end of the war he returned to England in late January 1919 and embarked from Liverpool for Canada on 5 March aboard the Scotian. He was discharged from service on demobilization on 10 April 1919 in Victoria, rank of Sapper.
James’ brother Ira was drafted under the 1917 Military Act and signed his papers on 19 January 1918 in Fort Frances, Ontario. With the 52nd Battalion he served in France in the late months of the war.
Not a lot is known about James’ life after the war. A 1924 notation in his service record had him living in Crooked Creek in Saskatchewan. A 1940’s Voters list for New Westminster in British Columbia had a James W Bates living in the city and working as a labourer. By the 1953 list he was living at the Odd Fellows Camp in White Rock, occupation given as pensioner. His later British Columbia death record said that he had worked as a logger for 40 years, retiring in 1948.
James died on 24 May 1962 in the Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver, his permanent address given as White Rock on his death record. He was predeceased by his mother, his father (1927, Barrie, Ontario), stepmother Rosanna (1948, Hamilton, Ontario), and siblings Elizabeth Doherty (1949, Kenora), Walter (1954, Port Arthur, Ontario), and Ira (1961, Vancouver, BC). Although his obituary said he was survived by a niece in Kenora, he was also survived by his sister Norah in San Francisco. Norah, a nurse, had married Charles Follman, the marriage ending in divorce. Norah later died in 1967 in San Francisco.
James is interred in the Victory Memorial Park Cemetery in Surrey, British Columbia.
By Judy Thorburn