Arts and Crafts · Places

The Bird Man of Toronto

The Bird Man of Toronto
At the corner of Queen Street and University Avenue in Toronto you will find a little gem, ‘The Bird Man’.

This school break we decided to have staycation. Why live in a wonderfully cosmopolitan city if you don’t go out and discover it? Two of the highlights of the week were visiting the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. I feel very fortunate that my children enjoy going to galleries. Truth be told, in the beginning our trips may have only been as a result of bribing them with a visit to the gift store. But now they ask to go and they really enjoy the experience.

We had an amazing time visiting the dinosaurs and exploring ancient china at the ROM. And at the AGO, we tiptoed into the Brant Library and discovered secret doors. And the children played find and seek looking for owls in the carvings of Canadian artist Manasie Akpaliapik.

Manasie Akpaliapik
Can you spot the owl?

And they even made their own creations to hang in the children’s gallery.

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A few months ago, I had seen a feature on CTV News about a man who spends every day on the corner of Queen Street and University Avenue carving little wooden birds. Now, I have passed that corner literally thousands of times and I don’t ever remember seeing him. So when we were at the AGO I asked the kids if they fancied going on an adventure to find the Bird Man of Toronto. And of course they were game.

We wandered down University Avenue keeping our eyes peeled for him. And wouldn’t you know it, there he was, sitting right outside Rexall making another of his little creations.

The bird man of Toronto
Ross Ward, the Bird Man of Toronto

We went up to him and introduced ourselves. I told him I had seen him on the news. I asked him how business had been since he had become “famous” and he told me that for about a week or so business increased, but not much had changed afterwards.

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This made us a little sad. I bought two little birds ($10 each): one for each of the boys. He took the time to assemble them and sign them. We took a couple of photos and said our goodbyes. We popped into Rexall for a couple of minutes and, by the time we came out, he was gone.

The little birds now sit in the boys’ rooms. One is named Ross in honour of the Bird Man and the other Mr. Tweeties (of course).

If you are ever at the corner of Queen and University, keep and eye for the Bird Man. His art may not hang in a gallery, but it is part of the fabric of our lovely city.

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