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Bill Reid Sculpture


Stolen Bill Reid sculpture back in NCC hands after 17 years

OTTAWA - A $150,000 killer whale sculpture stolen from a park along the Rideau Canal nearly 17 years ago has been found in "amazing condition," the National Capital Commission told the Citizen.

The bronze Bill Reid piece disappeared from the Fourth Avenue pond in 1995. With no suspects and no witnesses, the case sat cold and gathered dust for more than a decade. Then, on Dec. 14, 2011, Ottawa police received some new information that took the investigation off the shelf. Police recovered the 113-kilogram bronze Haida sculpture on Jan. 2 and handed it back to its owner, the NCC.

"It's just amazing that after more than 16 years it just surfaces, really out of nowhere. It's such a lucky story," said NCC spokesperson Denise LeBlanc. "It's in really, really good shape."

The sculpture had been secured with two-metre-long threaded bolts to a foundation in the middle of the pond between Queen Elizabeth Driveway and the Rideau Canal. But in November 1995, the bolts were found cut and the sculpture gone.

Ottawa police said the investigation is still open and active even though the art piece has been recovered.

"We're still looking for information to how it may have disappeared originally," said Const. Marc Soucy.

Soucy would not say where the sculpture was "seized" in Ottawa but did say that detectives will be interviewing some "persons of interest" in relation to the case.

"We've got leads. I don't know if we can call them suspects yet," Soucy said. He added that police welcome any tips from the public to help solve the case.

The killer whale sculpture is one of more than 2,000 works that Reid created during his acclaimed career, which drew from his Haida ancestry - an indigenous culture from the northwest coast. The killer whale - along with other powerful mythological creatures in Haida culture, such as the raven, the eagle and the bear - feature prominently in Reid's art.

The Victoria, B.C. native was a sculptor, a carver, a jeweller, a metalsmith and a printmaker. He carried out commissions for a totem in London, England and a canoe sculpture filled with Haida characters for the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Reid also wrote poetry, illustrated books and worked as a CBC Radio news announcer.

He died in 1998 at the age of 78.

The NCC bought the killer whale sculpture for $48,000 in 1988. Its value grew with Reid's reputation and was pegged at $150,000 when it was stolen in 1995.

The NCC plans to make an announcement next week on the future of the recovered killer whale.

Spatial Thoughts on Sculpture by Bill West
Sculpture just has a way of surviving time - in so many ways! Very nice sculpture by sculptor Bill Reid, who can easily lay claim to many nicely done sculptures throughout his career.

Bill Reid Sculpture
"Killer Whale" by Bill Reid
Click here to view above sculpture larger