Ross Ward says he has little feeling on the right side of his face but won’t stop selling his art just because he was violently assaulted in an apparent unprovoked attack.
At 1:20 pm on Nov. 12, 2021, Toronto police say they were called to Yonge and Hayden streets, just south of Bloor Street, where Ward, who was selling his wooden carvings of birds on the sidewalk as he has for years, had been assaulted.
“I’ve seen this person before and he went by once, and the next time he went by, he turned around and came running at me and kicked my stuff all over. So I got up. I’m not going to sit there and let someone attack me and that’s the last thing I remember,” said Ward.
“Apparently, he threw me on the sidewalk and I hit my head and he was jumping on me with his knee,” said Ward, who admits he’s been punched and spat on before while selling his wooden carvings, but never injured.
Ward is grateful to the security guard from a nearby store who he says came to his aide, by trying to get him to talk to keep him from going into shock. He was told another witness put a coat over him after the attack.
His wife, Maria Ramirez, cried as she recalled arriving at hospital. “When I saw him, I tried not to cry,” she said.
Ramirez explained that she always worried about her husband’s safety when he worked on Yonge Street and warned him to be aware of his surroundings.
Ward was first profiled on Global News in October 2018 when he was introduced as Toronto’s “Birdman”.
Have you seen Toronto’s Birdman ?
He explained he would carve all day and sell his miniature wooden carvings of birds at the corner of Yonge and Elm streets.
“I get people that, even if they don’t buy something, they smile. How often do you see that in downtown Toronto?” he told Global News’ Susan Hay.
The 64-year-old said since recovering, he’s had no choice but to go back to work selling his art and when the pandemic began, moved to Yonge and Hayden streets because of less foot traffic at Yonge and Elm.
“Once my hearing got so bad that no one would hire me, that was the only option I have (to work),” he explained.
He said on a good day, he can make $100. The wooden birds sell for $15 apiece.
Toronto police spokesperson Const. Edward Parks said that police continue to investigate the assault but have yet to make an arrest.
“Officers have canvassed the area, they’ve checked for video and we’ve interviewed individuals. At this point in time, the case is at a stall and we’re asking for the public’s assistance,” said Parks.
If anyone was in the area, has dashcam video or has information about what happened, they’re asked to call Toronto police at 416-808-2222 or Crime Stoppers.
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