Who was Bill Reid?

Bill Reid's journey


Photo: Bill Reid age 4 years and sister Peggy age 2 years sitting under parasol

Bill Reid and sister Peggy as young children
Victoria, BC
c. 1924
Courtesy Bill Reid Estate

1920-1928: (Birth to age 8)
Bill Reid’s father, William Ronald Reid, ran hotels in Smithers in northern BC, and later in Hyder, Alaska, while Sophie set up house in Victoria. She made a living as a talented dressmaker, designing fashionable clothes for upper-class families of the city. For some years the family moved back and forth between the two locations. Eventually Reid’s parents separated, and he had no contact with his father after the age of 14.

1932-1936: (age 12-16)
At the age of 12, out of boredom in school, he started to carve tiny objects out of blackboard chalk, such as totem poles, boats, and a tea set. (Tea, along with its etiquette, was a popular hallmark of Victorian society.)

These first carvings were the result of intense concentration, and showed his taste for miniatures and accuracy of detail as well as his sense of humour.

He loved to read. He spent many hours at the Carnegie library in Victoria, saying later that he had read all he could find, but more particularly, English and American novels and poetry

Photo: Bill Reid age 6 years

Bill Reid as a young boy
Victoria, BC
Courtesy Bill Reid Estate

Photo: Miniature tea pot, creamer jug and sugar bowl carved from blackboard chalk by Bill Reid

Bill Reid
Miniature Tea Set
Blackboard chalk, nail polish
Teapot with lid, 2.2 cm W, creamer jug 0.7 x 1.1 cm, sugar bowl 0.7 x 1 cm handle to handle, 0.3 cm diameter
Bill Reid Foundation Collection, BRFC#143
Gift of Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Kennedy
Photo: Linda Stanfield