Toronto’s streets are stuffed with many attention-grabbing people — buskers enjoying tunes, artisans promoting wares. Few, nonetheless, have develop into as standard and beloved as Ross Ward, also called Birdman. Ward is a fixture downtown, the place he spends his days carving and promoting lovely, tiny picket birds to passersby.
His newest spot is outdoors the Chick-Fil-A on Yonge Avenue, simply south of Bloor, the place he’s been because the starting of the pandemic. Due to the busy location, he’s capable of catch the attention of lots of of individuals every day, a lot of them desirous to cease and peruse his choice. “It makes lots of people pleased. If folks strolling by see me, very often they smile,” he says. “And kids are amazed. I get wows from youngsters, and so they cease, and you’ll see the look of astonishment on their face.”
Ask any Torontonian and there’s a very good probability they both personal considered one of Ward’s creations, know somebody who does, or have seen him sitting on a sidewalk someplace, whittling away at his subsequent fowl. His creatures have winged their approach all around the world, settling in international locations as far-off as Germany, New Zealand, Dubai and China. He’s even impressed a fashion collection by designer Anson Lee, known as Ross Ward Warkworth (the items are adorned with embroidery and picket beads and carvings). And, when Ward was the sufferer of a random assault final fall, a GoFundMe marketing campaign raised greater than $16,000 for his medical care.
Carving was as soon as merely a pastime for Ward, who labored as a constructing operator for a few years. “I might carve at work, so long as I didn’t make a large number within the lunchroom.” Ward says. “Everybody else can be sleeping when my boss got here in within the morning, and I used to be carving.” He later labored in building, however after experiencing listening to loss, he’s now been promoting his birds on the road full-time for greater than a decade.
At first, he headed to Queen West, the place he offered average-sized birds, however he discovered that the time required to make them, and the following greater price ticket, simply wasn’t possible in the long run. “If you wish to promote one thing on the road,” he says, “it needs to be very cheap. So right here I’m.” He switched to carving tiny birds for $15 a pop, and hit avenue corners additional downtown, close to locations with loads of foot visitors (like a subway entrance) or the place people had been usually tend to stand round (like on a line outdoors a well-liked meals joint).
Requested what fowl serves as his inspiration, Ward figures the closest match is the golden topped kinglet, considered one of which alighted in his palm throughout a stroll in the future. Whereas the wee kinglets are his specialty, he’s additionally open to particular orders, and has carved blue jays, ravens and bluebirds, his mom’s favorite. There’s one particular order he’s by no means been capable of fill, nonetheless. “My spouse Maria’s favorite fowl is the cardinal, however she’s been ready 27 years for hers,” he says with amusing. “Each time I do one, somebody’ll see it, and so they purchase it.”
Ward’s output is sustainable as properly; he makes use of supplies that might usually find yourself in a landfill. “I discover the wooden, or in the event that they’re tearing down an previous constructing, I’ll ask the development firm if I can have a number of the wooden,” he explains. “You’re taking one thing that may have been discarded, and also you make one thing out of it. That’s all the time given me pleasure.”
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