Memorable Manitobans: Hubert John Allen Bird (1889-1965)
Born at Plymouth, England on 29 July 1889, one of 11 children of Henry and Maud Bird, he was educated at Ardingley College and Plymouth College. He came to Canada in 1905 to join two uncles in rural Saskatchewan and homesteaded south of Melfort until 1908. He worked as a cutter of cordwood at Stonewall and, by late 1914, was working as a construction supervisor for a general contractor at Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
During the First World War, he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, serving initially in the 5th Battalion of the First Canadian Division and transferring to the Canadian Engineers in 1915. He served as Resident Engineer under the British Air Ministry in 1917-1918, ending his military service with the rank of Honorary Lieutenant Colonel. Three of his brothers were killed during the war.
In 1920, he founded the construction firm of Bird and Woodall (later Bird Construction Company) at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. It became one of the largest of its kind in western Canada, with projects around the world. At the time of his death, he was a director of Monarch Life Assurance Company and a member of the advisory board for the Montreal Trust Company.
During the Second World War, his company built many of the air training facilities in western Canada and more wartime housing than any other firm in the country. After the war, it continued large construction projects and re-entered the housing field with the building of Wildwood Park in Fort Garry. He was involved in construction of the Red River Floodway.
He was married twice, first to Violet Ruth Stewart (1887-1964) of Kentville, Nova Scotia with whom he had two children: Kathleen Frances Bird (1917-2007, wife of Royston William Raymond Oliver) and Robert Allen Bird (1926-2018). His second wife was widow Myrtle Collier Fox (1898-1993). He was a member of the Manitoba Club, Assiniboia Club (Regina), St. Charles Country Club, Engineering Institute of Canada, Winnipeg Builders' Exchange, and Anglican church. He took an active interest in the Lakeside Fresh Air Camp.
He died while on a visit to England on 21 October 1965 and was buried in the Lewknor Parish Cemetery in Oxfordshire, England.
Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionar Force, Library and Archives Canada.
Obituary [Violet Ruth Bird], Winnipeg Tribune, 20 October 1964, page 48.
Obituary, Winnipeg Tribune, 22 October 1965, page 26.
“Hubert J. A. Bird,” Winnipeg Free Press, 28 October 1965, page 35.
Obituary [Myrtle Vant], Winnipeg Free Press, 6 June 1993, page 36.
Obituary [Robert Allen Bird], Winnipeg Free Press, 15 September 2018.
Captain Hubert Bird by Susan Roberts, Heart of Conflict, 6 August 2021.
We thank Rick Wishart and Mark Allen Oliver for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 15 November 2022