Wesley W. Bates was born in the Yukon in 1952 and raised in South Western Saskatchewan. He moved to Hamilton after leaving Mount Alison University and pursued a career as a painter and printmaker there. In 1981 he began work as a wood engraver and freelance illustrator.
Primarily known for his work as a Wood Engraver, Bates has worked for many major publishing houses and has illustrated books by such authors as W.O. Mitchell, Wendell Berry, Ed McClanahan, Richard Taylor, Stuart McLean, Timothy Findley, Russell Smith, and Don McKay.
He lives and works in Clifford, Ontario; his work is represented in many public collections.