Who was Bill Reid?

Bill Reid's journey


Photo: T'aa (Haida canoe), carved by Guujaaw and Jaalen Edenshaw, Skidegate 2008

"T'aa" (Haida canoe), carved by Guujaaw and his son Jaalen Edenshaw
Skidegate, Haida Gwaii
Courtesy of Guujaaw
Courtesy Haida Heritage Centre, Kaay Llnagaay
Photo: Simon Davies

Anthropologists and art historians have described Bill Reid as a “bridge” between the new generation of Northwest Coast artists and the Haida masters of the past, or as a bringer of change, or as a “culture broker”. Others have described him as a Raven, the Trickster who makes things happen unintentionally and inadvertently.

In 2004, several years after his death, “The Spirit of Haida Gwaii” and three other of Bill Reid’s works were chosen to represent arts and culture in Canada on the Canadian twenty-dollar banknote. Twenty-five million banknotes were issued.

In 2008, the Bill Reid Foundation opened The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in Vancouver, to “preserve the art and perpetuate the legacy” of Bill Reid. Many of his works, as well as those of contemporary Northwest Coast artists, are on display there.

Many of Bill Reid’s works are also on display at the Haida Heritage Centre at Kaay Llnagaay in Skidegate, Haida Gwaii, which also includes a Bill Reid Teaching Centre, Canoe House, and Carving Shed, where several canoes have been carved since Bill Reid died.

Photo: Shawn Hunt with his painting “Trickster 2008-2009”

Shawn Hunt
"Trickster 2008-2009"
Exhibition: Continuum: Vision and Creativity on the Northwest Coast
Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, Vancouver, BC
Photo: Linda Stanfield

Photo: Bill Reid's “Black Eagle Canoe” and Haida paddlers in False Creek, Vancouver, BC 1986

Bill Reid
“Black Eagle Canoe” and Haida Paddlers
Canoe: Fiberglass, wood, polychrome;
Cast of “Lootaas”
15 m L
Collection of the Bill Reid Foundation
Photo: Rodney Allan Badger

Photo: Chief Jim Hart and son Carl carving the “Celebration of Bill Reid Pole”

James Hart of Haida Gwaii with his son Carl Hart, carving the Raven for the
"Celebration of Bill Reid Pole"
Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, Vancouver, BC
Photo: Kenji Nagai