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Bill Reid

Bill Reid

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William Ronald Reid, OBC
Order of British Columbia
The Order of British Columbia is a civilian honour for merit in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Instituted in 1989 by Lieutenant Governor David Lam, on the advice of the Cabinet under Premier Bill Vander Zalm, the order is administered by the Governor-in-Council and is intended to honour...

 ( – ) was a Canadian artist whose works included jewelry, sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

, screen-printing
Screen printing is a printing technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil. The attached stencil forms open areas of mesh that transfer ink or other printable materials which can be pressed through the mesh as a sharp-edged image onto a substrate...

, and painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

. His work is featured on the Canadian $20 banknote
Canadian twenty-dollar bill
The Canadian $20 bill is the most common banknote of the Canadian dollar; it is the main banknote dispensed from Canadian automatic banking machines . The Canadian $20 bill was introduced on September 29, 2004 as part of the Canadian Journey Series....



Reid was born in Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The city has a population of about 78,000 within the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria, which has a population of 360,063, the 15th most populous Canadian...

 to an American
People of the United States
The people of the United States, also known as simply Americans or American people, are the inhabitants or citizens of the United States. The United States is a multi-ethnic nation, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds...

 father of Scottish-German descent and a mother from the Haida, one of the First Nations
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

 of the Pacific coast. He developed a keen interest in Haida art while working as a radio announcer in Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, where he also studied jewelry making, having first learnt about his heritage from his maternal grandfather, who had himself been trained by Charles Edenshaw
Charles Edenshaw
Charles Edenshaw was a Haida artist from Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada. He is known for his woodcarving, argillite carving, jewellery, and painting.-Background:...

, a Haida artist of great renown.

In 1951, he returned to Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

 and became greatly interested in the works of Edenshaw, working to understand the symbolism
Symbolism (arts)
Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the style had its beginnings with the publication Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire...

 of his work, much of which had been lost along with the many Haida traditions. During this time he also worked on salvaging artifacts, including many intricately carved totem pole
Totem pole
Totem poles are monumental sculptures carved from large trees, mostly Western Red Cedar, by cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America...

s which were then moldering in abandoned village sites, and aided in the partial reconstruction of a village in the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology
Museum of Anthropology at UBC
The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada is renowned for its displays of world arts and cultures, in particular works by First Nations peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations...


Working in the traditional forms and modern media (usually gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

 and argillite
Haida Argillite Carvings
Haida argillite carvings are a sculptural tradition among the Haida indigenous nation of the Northwest Coast of North America, which came into existence in the early 19th century and continues today.-Background:...

), he began by making jewelry before branching into larger sculptures in bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

, red cedar and Nootka Cypress
Callitropsis nootkatensis
Nootka Cypress , formerly Cupressus nootkatensis, Xanthocyparis nootkatensis or Chamaecyparis nootkatensis, is a cypress with a chequered taxonomic and nomenclatural history. This species goes by many common names including Nootka Cypress, Yellow Cypress, and Alaska Cypress...

 (yellow cedar) usually portraying figures, animals, and scenes from folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

, as well as assisting in the preservation of the accompanying mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...


His most popular works are three large bronze sculptures, two depicting a canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

 filled with human and animal figures: one black, The Spirit of Haida Gwaii
Spirit of Haida Gwaii
The Spirit of Haida Gwaii is a sculpture by British Columbia Haida artist Bill Reid . It is featured on the Canadian $20 bill. -Background:...

, at the Canadian Embassy, Washington, D.C., in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

; and one green, The Jade Canoe, at Vancouver International Airport
Vancouver International Airport
Vancouver International Airport is located on Sea Island in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, about from Downtown Vancouver. In 2010 it was the second busiest airport in Canada by aircraft movements and passengers , behind Toronto Pearson International Airport, with non-stop flights daily to...

, in British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

; and the third, Chief of the Undersea World, depicting a breaching orca
The killer whale , commonly referred to as the orca, and less commonly as the blackfish, is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family. Killer whales are found in all oceans, from the frigid Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas...

, at the Vancouver Aquarium
Vancouver Aquarium
The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is a public aquarium located in Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In addition to being a major tourist attraction for Vancouver, the aquarium is a centre for marine research, conservation and marine animal rehabilitation.The Vancouver...

. Plaster cast
Plaster cast
A plaster cast is a copy made in plaster of another 3-dimensional form. The original from which the cast is taken may be a sculpture, building, a face, a fossil or other remains such as fresh or fossilised footprints – particularly in palaeontology .Sometimes a...

s of these sculptures exist at the Canadian Museum of Civilization
Canadian Museum of Civilization
The Canadian Museum of Civilization is Canada's national museum of human history and the most popular and most-visited museum in Canada....

 in Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

, Canada.

He participated in the blockades of logging roads which helped save the rain forests of Gwaii Haanas (South Moresby)
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site
Ninstints or SGang Gwaay Llnaagay on Anthony Island, in located in the southernmost part of Gwaii Haanas, just west of Kunghit Island, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981...

; he also stopped work on the sculpture in Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 during this period to protest the destruction of the forests of Haida Gwaii.

Reid received many honours in his life, including honorary degrees from the University of British Columbia
University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia is a public research university. UBC’s two main campuses are situated in Vancouver and in Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley...

, the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

, the University of Victoria
University of Victoria
The University of Victoria, often referred to as UVic, is the second oldest public research university in British Columbia, Canada. It is a research intensive university located in Saanich and Oak Bay, about northeast of downtown Victoria. The University's annual enrollment is about 20,000 students...

, the University of Western Ontario
University of Western Ontario
The University of Western Ontario is a public research university located in London, Ontario, Canada. The university's main campus covers of land, with the Thames River cutting through the eastern portion of the main campus. Western administers its programs through 12 different faculties and...

, York University
York University
York University is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is Canada's third-largest university, Ontario's second-largest graduate school, and Canada's leading interdisciplinary university....

, and Trent University
Trent University
Trent University is a liberal arts and science-oriented institution located along the Otonabee River in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.The enabling legislation is the Trent University Act, 1962-63. The University was founded through the efforts of a citizens' committee interested in creating a...

. He received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1994, and was made a member of the Order of British Columbia
Order of British Columbia
The Order of British Columbia is a civilian honour for merit in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Instituted in 1989 by Lieutenant Governor David Lam, on the advice of the Cabinet under Premier Bill Vander Zalm, the order is administered by the Governor-in-Council and is intended to honour...

 and an Officer of France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

's Order of Arts and Letters.

Having dedicated the later part of his life to the creation of new works and these tasks of curation
Curation may refer to:*Digital curation, the preservation and maintenance of digital assets*Sheer curation, a minimalist form of digital curationCuration may also be:*The work performed by a curator*Archiving, historical record keeping...

, Reid died on 13 March 1998, of Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system...

, in Vancouver. In July 1998 friends and relatives paddled Lootaas, a large cedar canoe carved by Reid for Expo 86
Expo 86
The 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication, or simply Expo '86, was a World's Fair held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from Friday, May 2 until Monday, October 13, 1986...

, on a two-day journey along the Pacific coast to bring his ashes to Tanu Island in Haida Gwaii, the site of his mother's village
New Clew, British Columbia
New Clew, also Clue, Kloo, Kliew, Klue, Clew Indian Reserve, is a locality and First Nations reserve of the Haida people, located on the north shore of Louise Island, which is located in Cumshewa Inlet in the Queen Charlotte Islands of the North Coast of British Columbia, Canada.New Clew is...


Two of his sculptures, Raven and the First Men and The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, are prominently featured on the $20 note
Canadian twenty-dollar bill
The Canadian $20 bill is the most common banknote of the Canadian dollar; it is the main banknote dispensed from Canadian automatic banking machines . The Canadian $20 bill was introduced on September 29, 2004 as part of the Canadian Journey Series....

 in the Bank of Canada
Bank of Canada
The Bank of Canada is Canada's central bank and "lender of last resort". The Bank was created by an Act of Parliament on July 3, 1934 as a privately owned corporation. In 1938, the Bank became a Crown corporation belonging to the Government of Canada...

's new Canadian Journey (2004) issue paired with a quotation from author Gabrielle Roy
Gabrielle Roy
Gabrielle Roy, CC, FRSC was a French Canadian author.- Biography :Born in Saint Boniface , Manitoba, Roy was educated at Saint Joseph's Academy...


See also

  • Notable Aboriginal people of Canada
    Notable Aboriginal people of Canada
    Over the course of centuries, many Aboriginal Canadians have played a critical role in shaping the history of Canada. From art and music, to law and government, to sports and war; Aboriginal customs and culture have had a strong influences on defining Canadian culture...

  • List of indigenous artists of the Americas

External links