WILLIAM PETER McDADE - One of the most important industries of Humboldt county is that of ship building, and
the ship yards at Fair Haven, across the bay from Eureka, are well known throughout the state, and in fact along
the entire coast, as many vessels of importance, and even some little fame, have been constructed there. At present
one of the most prominent figures in this great industry is William Peter McDade, who for practically his entire
lifetime has been associated with the yards at Fair Haven, and to whom the construction of vessels of various types
is as the breath of his life.
Mr. McDade is a native of California, having been born at Fair Haven, August 6, 1880, the son of Hugh and Agnes
(Day) McDade, both of New Brunswick, Canada. His father was a ship carpenter, born in St. John, New Brunswick,
where he lived for many years and where he was married. He learned his trade there, and followed it for some time,
but after his marriage he came to California, hoping to better his financial condition in the west. He arrived
here about 1873, locating in Humboldt county, and for many years he and his wife have made their home in Eureka.
He is now about sixty seven years of age, and is employed by his son in the Fair Haven yards as a ship carpenter,
in which line he is an expert workman. The parental family numbered four children, three of whom are still living.
They are: Edith, now the wife of William Falk, and residing in Eureka; Nellie, deceased; William Peter, of whom
we write; and Everett, a ship carpenter employed at St. Helena, Ore.
After completing his education, received in the public schools, Mr. McDade was apprenticed in the H. D. Bendixsen
ship yards at Fair Haven, where he served an apprenticeship of five years, mastering all the details of the craft
of building ships. Bendixsen was then the foremost ship builder of the vicinity and the Bendixsen ship yards were
the first to be located at Fair Haven or in that region, and it is these yards that Mr. McDade now leases from
the Bank of Eureka. The former owners were John Lindstrom, John C. Bull, and Bendixsen. During his ownership of
the yards Bendixsen did a thriving business, constructing in all some one hundred six vessels.
Mr. McDade remained steadily with Bendixsen during his ownership of the yards, then with Mr. Bull, and after they
were purchased by Lindstrom he was made the superintendent, remaining in this capacity for three years, during
which time the following vessels were built: Florence Wood, Daisy Freeman, Tahoe, Yellowstone, Shoshone and Catherine.
Of these all were steam schooners except the Florence Wood, an auxiliary cable schooner, which was purchased by
the United States government and taken to the Philippines and is still in the government service, laying telegraph
Later Mr. McDade worked for the McCormick Company in the capacity of yard foreman, and while there built the Klamath,
a steam schooner with a capacity of one million two hundred thousand feet of lumber, and sixty passengers. The
Hammond Lumber Company then leased the yards and ran them for three years, building the Nehalem, the Fort Bragg
and the Willamette, Mr. McDade being their yard foreman during this time. Later this same company, continuing their
lease, built the Necanicum, in 1911-1912, and the Mary Olsen in 1912-1913, with Mr. McDade in direct charge as
superintendent of the construction.
It was in 1914 that Mr. McDade leased the yard and engaged in the business of ship building for himself. He has
recently completed the building of the Magnolia, a one hundred ton, twin screw gasoline schooner, owned by Capt.
Ed Johnson, of Eureka, and also built a seventy foot barge, beam twenty six feet, for the Coggeshall Launch Company,
of Eureka. The first steamship that Mr. McDade built was the Toledo, owned by the Fay Brothers, and now in Alaskan
waters. It was one hundred six feet long, with a twenty foot beam, and eight foot hold. He was only twenty four
years old at that time. When he was but twenty six years of age he was superintendent of the yards with one hundred
men under his charge.
The marriage of Mr. McDade took place in San Francisco, May 27, 1901, uniting him with Miss Minnie Murphy, a native
of Malone, N. Y. She is the daughter of Peter and Mary (Brady) Murphy, both natives of New York state. The father
died in New York, but the mother died in Eureka.
Both Mr. and Mrs. McDade are well known in Fair Haven and in Eureka, where they have many friends. Mr. McDade is
recognized as one of the most influential and prominent of the younger generation, and his splendid qualities of
heart and mind have won him the confidence and esteem of a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. He is especially
well liked by his business associates, including the patrons of his ship yards and the employes, the men in the
yards being his most loyal and devoted admirers and friends. Aside from his business associates Mr. McDade is also
popular in fraternal circles, where he is associated with several well known orders. He is especially interested
in the affairs of the Elks.
History of Humboldt County, California
With a Biographical Sketches
History by Leigh H. Irving
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1915
Humboldt County, CA
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