Bill Reid was Canada’s most renowned, contemporary, Northwest Coast Haida artist. Working in many mediums, he was a master goldsmith, sculptor, and writer.
Bill Reid was born in Victoria, BC on January 12, 1920, and passed away from Parkinson’s disease on March 13, 1998, in Vancouver B.C.
He was born to two loving parents, an American father of Scottish and German descent and a Haida mother. In the 1950s, Bill Reid began studying jewelry making at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute and then attended the London School of Design to learn classical European jewelry techniques.
Haida Art and Bill Reid
Haida Art was something that Contemporary Northwest Coast Artist Bill Reid embraced on a trip to Haida Gwaii in 1954. During that time he visited with family members, one of which was the master carver, Charles Edenshaw, his great-great-uncle. This was the beginning of Bill's lifelong journey of exploring the rich tapestry of the Haida culture.
Famous Haida Art by Bill Reid
Bill Reid created more than 1500 artworks in his lifetime. Many of them were large sculptures and housed in high profile locations in British Columbia, Bill Reid's home province.
The Raven and the First Men
The Raven and the First Men, which is on display in the University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology, is a carving that depicts the story of human creation according to Haida legend. This carving took two years to complete and was worked on by a number of Northwest Coast Native Artists in conjunction with Bill Reid.
The Spirit of Haida Gwaii - The Jade Canoe
In 1994 Bill Reid was commissioned by the Canadian Government to create a sculpture for the new Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC. In the end, it was installed in the International Terminal of the Vancouver Airport. Often described as "The Heart of the Airport", this acclaimed work was inspired by argillite carvings of miniature canoes in the 19th century. The sculpture draws from legends and oral histories of the Haida.
Bill Reid - A Lifetime of Creativity
Reid was not only a Canadian artist. He also worked as a storyteller, writer, poet, and broadcaster. He received many honours in his life, including honorary degrees from the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, the University of Victoria, the University of Western Ontario, York University, and Trent University.
Bill Reid Gallery
The Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver is a downtown public art gallery named after this iconic native artist. The Reid Gallery aims to celebrate and educate visitors about Bill Reid, Haida, and First Nations Art and Culture.
To learn more about Bill Reid visit these websites.