Black Frank

“Black Frank” was the pirate persona adopted by Frank James Ney, a former mayor of Nanaimo. A statue in his honour is in a prominent location by the sea wall at Swy-a-Lana Lagoon. When I took these pictures I noticed that someone had given him a scarf to keep warm and a yellow smiley face button just for fun. He would have liked that, I think.

Frank was not actually a pirate, but casual observers of this statue would not know this. He was a post-WWII immigrant from London, England and seems to have had a very English sense of humour. He dressed up as the pirate Black Frank for all sorts of occasions, both formal and informal.

“He was an active skier, swimmer, figure skater and boater. During the 1950/1951 season he was President of the Nanaimo Figure Skating Club. He also, while Mayor, initiated the creation of cut-away corners of sidewalk curbs in downtown Nanaimo after spending one day in a wheelchair in order to experience for himself the difficulties in getting around experienced by those in wheelchairs.” (Wikipedia)

He was mayor from 1968 to 1984 and from 1987 to 1990 while also being a notary, buying and selling real estate, and participating in many local and provincial organizations. One of his many claims to fame is that he founded the Bathtub Race which continues to be a popular annual event.

G. Kim Blank, who wrote a play about Frank James Ney, said ” his ability to be everywhere and always visible, the twinkle in his eye and the blarney of his gesture—all of this must have made him feel like everyone’s friend.” (Wikipedia)

He would have been pleased to know that he even appears as a character in Season One Episode 18 of the television series Bones, by name and his Pirate Mayor personality. I think I hear him chuckling in his grave.


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