Local writer tells the story of Nanaimo’s first mayor, Mark Bate

Bate biography is author Jan Peterson’s sixth book about the history of Nanaimo

For 15 years Jan Peterson has been chronicling the history of Nanaimo and its people. In five books she has charted the city’s development and told the stories of its early settlers.

Her latest book focusses on one specific figure who kept making appearances in her other works. It is called Mark Bate: Nanaimo’s First Mayor.

She began her research into Bate four years ago during a visit to the Nanaimo Archives when she was presented with a letter book of more than 300 pages belonging to Bate.

“I took a look at it. I couldn’t believe it,” Peterson said of the collection of communiqués.

“It was amazing because there is a story about the man. So many times in history you read about the achievements of a person but you don’t really hear very much about the man himself or his family.”

The missives covered the period when Bate was the manager of the Vancouver Coal Company, which operated the mines in Nanaimo. In his correspondences with his boss in England Bate recounted events in the city and offered personal information about his family life.

“I’m seeing a different side of Mark Bate and despite all the things that he had done this was a revelation to me to understand more about him. And I had never written anything about one person before,” Peterson said, adding, “It was really very interesting, I really enjoyed it. But everything that had been written about him, about his early beginnings, was untrue.”

Through the Archives Peterson began communicating with the great-great-great-grandson of Bate’s brother Joseph, who was researching his own family history. Through this new contact Peterson was able to correct inaccuracies about Bate’s life in England before immigrating to Vancouver Island, like his work and schooling history.

The book follows Bate through his private and public life and covers the drama that arises between Bate and other prominent coal men-turned-politicians, Robert Dunsmuir and John Bryden. In the background, Nanaimo blossoms from a mining colony to city.

“I was very interested in the city and the formation of the city, but Mark Bate was something totally different for me,” Peterson said.

While telling the city’s story in the context of a single character was a departure for the writer, now that she has one historical biography to her name, Peterson is already at work on a follow-up.

“I’m addicted,” she said.

“I get up in the morning and do my chores and then I sit in front of the computer and write, I go to the Archives to research or go into the library and dig out the old newspapers.”



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Driver hurt in car crash in Cedar

A Honda Civic and a Ford truck with a camper collided Tuesday at Cedar, Harmac and Raines roads

Departure Bay school parents concerned about rotating learning space

Eco-school students being taught in library and picnic areas, say parents

Tilray to export cannabis formulation to U.S. for clinical trial

Marijuana remains illegal in most of the U.S.

District of Lantzville adopts new logo

Logo features sea glass in shape of wave and the slogan ‘Love life here’

Attorney general takes Nanaimo councillor to court over release of confidential documents

Coun. Gord Fuller and three other Nanaimo citizens named in Supreme Court petition

Local violinist Ray Chin performs at the Nanaimo Arts Council

Concert to feature a varied selection of compositions

Candidate lists finalized for Nanaimo, Lantzville, RDN, school district

Nomination deadline passes in advance of Oct. 20 local government elections

Porsche and Subaru dealerships can proceed with planning in north Nanaimo

City council unanimously allows rezoning application process to move forward

Food bank collects fixings for Thanksgiving dinners

Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank held its Thanksgiving Food Drive on Saturday in Nanaimo

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Most Read