Edward Norman Yates was born in Calgary, Alberta, and grew up on the prairies of Saskatchewan. He graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1951 and taught at the University of Alberta from 1954 until his retirement in 1989.
His work explored abstraction, realism and symbolism. He often created very large works incorporating many colours and movement. He completed a number of large murals, one of which is mounted on the Education Building at the University of Alberta.
He purchase a 160-acres of land in west Edmonton, which he used as his studio inspiring a series titled 'landspaces'.
He was a member of The Royal Canadian Academy. His works are part of many private and public collections at institutions such as, The National Gallery of Canada, Canada Council Art Bank, Alberta Art Foundation, Edmonton Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Faculty Club, at the University of Alberta, among others.
He died in 2014.