Bird, Eustace Godfrey

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BIRD, Eustace Godfrey (1870-1950) of Toronto, Ont., best known for his collaboration with Carrere & Hastings of New York City. He was active in the following firms:

Smith & Bird, Architects, Toronto & Barrie, 1895-1899
Carrere & Hastings & Eustace Bird, Architects, Toronto 1906-1916
Eustace Bird, Architect, Toronto, 1916-1939

Born in Barrie, Ont. on 16 February 1870, he was the son of Sherman Godfrey Bird, an architect who lived and worked in Barrie. E.G. Bird was educated at Barrie Collegiate Institute, but he did not receive a formal university education in architecture. Instead, he may have been influenced at a young age to pursue a career in the profession, and in July 1888 he moved to Toronto to serve an apprenticeship in the office of Strickland & Symons (in 1888-90). In January 1891 he joined the office of William G. Storm as a draftsman and remained with him until late July 1892. After the death of Storm in early August 1892, Bird moved to London, England and obtained a position as assistant to Thomas E. Collcutt (1840-1924), a leading Edwardian architect and the designer of the sprawling Imperial Institute Building in London (built 1892-93; demol. 1957). Bird spent two years in the Collcutt office, but his training there was to have a lasting influence on the career of Bird, who remained a fervent adherent of the Edwardian and Tudor Revival styles up until 1930 and beyond. While he was in London, Bird was elected as an Associate member of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1894. His application was endorsed and co-signed by his mentor T.E. Collcutt.

Bird returned to Canada in late 1894 and the following year he joined in a partnership agreement with another British-born architect Eden Smith (see list of works under Smith & Bird). They operated dual offices in Toronto and Barrie, with Smith remaining in Toronto, and Bird carrying out commissions from his Barrie office. His best-known work from this period was for the Grand Opera House, Barrie (1896-97). In 1898 Bird moved to New York City and was fortunate enough to gain employment in the busy office of Carrere & Hastings, the masters of the Beaux-Arts style in America. They had just won the architectural competition for the Main Branch of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue in December 1897 (New York Times, 2 Dec. 1897, 1 and 12, descrip.), and needed many new assistants to prepare drawings for this major commission which took nearly a decade to complete. Bird spent the next eight years in New York working as a staff architect for this firm from 1898 to 1906.

When Carrere & Hastings received the commission for the new Royal Bank Building in Toronto in 1906, Bird was the logical choice to represent the firm and to open a new Toronto branch office. They entered into a joint legal partnership agreement called Carrere & Hastings & Eustace G. Bird, Architects, with Bird acting as the local representative and day-to-day supervisor for the Toronto jobs, while the actual designs were prepared in New York City by John Carrere and Thomas Hastings and their staff (see list of works under John Carrrere). Bird also helped to solicit new work for the firm such as the Bank of Toronto Headquarters on Bay Street (1911-13). However, the sudden death of John Carrere in March 1911 in a traffic accident in New York City changed their relationship forever, and Bird continued to work on a few local projects with Thomas Hastings until 1916 when the formal partnership between Bird and the New York office was terminated. After this date, Bird continued to work under his own name, designing a variety of residential, commercial, educational and institutional buildings in Toronto, Belleville, Orillia, as well as in Newfoundland and in London, England.

Bird also had an interest in urban planning and development in Toronto. In February 1911 he submitted a proposal for the proposed Bloor Viaduct across the Don Valley. His scheme consisted of a sweeping curved bridge and driveway linking Parliament Street across the valley to Danforth Avenue at Broadview Avenue (Toronto Star, 13 May 1911, 1, illus. & descrip. 3 Feb. 1912, 9, illus. & descrip.). His proposal was later shelved, and the straight linear viaduct by Edmund Burke was erected. In 1928 Bird prepared an elaborate visionary scheme for linking University Avenue to Front Street. His proposal for a new “Queen’s Parkway” received significant press coverage (Evening Telegram [Toronto], 6 February 1928, 6, illus. & descrip.; Toronto Daily Star, 6 Feb. 1928, 17 & 18, illus. & descrip.), but his plan was controversial, and was eventually set aside.

Bird continued to practise in Toronto until December 1939 when he resigned from the Ontario Assoc. of Architects. He spent his retirement at “The Sanctuary” near Allandale, a residence of his own design (built 1938). Bird died near Barrie, Ont. on 2 April 1950 (obituary Globe & Mail [Toronto], 4 April 1950, 4; obit. R.A.I.C. Journal, xvii, June 1950, 209; obit. Royal Inst. of British Architects Journal [London], lvii, July 1950, 368-9; biog. and photo port. in Who’s Who & Why in Canada, 1915-16, 1276; biog. Who’s Who in Canada, 1947-48, 1316; biog. R,I.B.A., Directory of British Architects 1834-1914, Vol. 1, 2001, 185; inf. Miss Amoi Bird, Toronto). The Ontario Archives in Toronto holds microfilm copies of a small collection of sketches and diaries prepared by Bird while he was in England during the period of 1892-94 (OA Fonds F 2112).

TORONTO

CASTLE FRANK ROAD, near Elm Avenue, residence for Gerald B. Strathy, 1911 (Toronto b.p. 27684, 1 June 1911; Globe & Mail [Toronto], 5 August 2016, Real Estate Section, G6 & G7, illus. & descrip.)
BOYD STORAGE LTD., Front Street East backing onto the Esplanade, east of Yonge Street, warehouse for Charles E. Boyd, 1911-12 (C.R., xxv, 20 Dec. 1911, 63)
FOREST HILL ROAD, residence for William Caldwell, 1911-12 (C.R., xxv, 27 Dec. 1911, 63)
SPADINA ROAD, near Davenport Road, residence for A. H. Austin [sic], perhaps Albert W. Austin?, 1912 (Toronto b.p. 35925, 9 July 1912)
CANADIAN GENERAL ELECTRIC LTD., Dufferin Street at Liberty Street, major addition to lamp factory, 1912 (C.R., xxvi, 24 Jan. 1912, 68, t.c.)
QUEEN'S PARK CRESCENT, near Bloor Street West, major addition to residence for Edward R. Wood, 1913 (C.R., xxvii, 2 July 1913, 75; Toronto b.p. 11346, 8 May 1914)
EARL GREY PUBLIC SCHOOL, Jones Avenue near Harcourt Avenue, major addition, 1919 (C.R., xxxiii, 4 June 1919, 45)
CANADIAN GENERAL ELECTRIC CO., Wallace Avenue at Ward Street, factory, 1920 (Toronto b.p. 30440, 27 April 1920)
LUCKY STRIKE BOWLING ALLEY, Dundas Street West near Indian Grove, for A.B. Cameron, 1923 (Toronto b.p. 58778, 4 April 1923)
RIVERDALE BOWLING ALLEY, Queen Street East near Logan Avenue, 1924 (Toronto b.p. 71260, 26 May 1924)
GOVERNOR'S MANOR APARTMENTS, Douglas Crescent at Governor's Road, in North Rosedale, 1928 (Toronto Star, 9 March 1928, 4, illus. & descrip.; C.R., xlii, 7 Nov. 1928, 1177, illus. & descrip.)

ELSEWHERE

BELLEVILLE, ONT., country house for R.J. Graham, overlooking the Bay of Quinte, c. 1918 (Const., x, June 1918, 184-5, illus. & descrip.)
ORILLIA, ONT., Memorial Hospital, Colborne Street West, 1919-21 (Orillia Times, 11 Sept. 1919, 1, t.c.; C.R., xxxv, 6 April 1921, 57, t.c.)
LONDON, ENGLAND, Canadian National Railway Exhibit Hall, at the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley, 1923-24 (Abbotsford Post, 5 Oct. 1923, 4, illus. & descrip.; Const., xvi, Oct. 1923, 378, illus. & descrip.; Financial Times [Montreal], 7 March 1924, 4, illus. & descrip.; Toronto Star, 28 Nov. 1925, 21, illus. & descrip.)
THOUSAND ISLAND BEACH, hotel for the Royal St. Lawrence Hotel Co. Ltd., 1923-24 (C.R., xxxvii, 26 Dec. 1923, 175)
ST. JOHN'S, NFLD., Bishop Feild Boy's College, Le Marchant Road, 1928 (Evening Telegram [St. John's), 28 June 1927, 7, descrip.; 1 Sept. 1928, 5, descrip.; C.R., xli, 13 July 1927, 9, illus. in advert.)
ST. JOHN'S, NFLD., residence for Eric A. Bowring, King's Bridge Road, 1930 (Daily Commercial News [Toronto], 17 May 1930, 1)
ST. JOHN'S, NFLD., residence for Leonard C. Outerbridge, Robinson's Hill, 1930 (Daily Commercial News [Toronto], 17 May 1930, 1)
BARRIE, ONT., 'The Sanctuary', a summer residence for the architect, R.R. 2, near Barrie, 1938 (inf. Arthur Langley, Toronto)

COMPETITIONS

“Design for a Bath Room”, 1889-90. Bird was one of three entrants in this ideas competition sponsored by The Canadian Architect & Builder magazine. The entry by Bird, submitted under the pseudonym “Bird’s Eye” received First Prize, but the jury, consisting of W.A. Langton, Robert J. Edwards and John Gemmell commented on his design and stated that “…the common character of the details and inferior draughtsmanship militate against the merits of the plan” (C.A.B., iii, Jan. 1890, 4, descrip., with full page plate illus. following p. 12).