Pioneer of Canadian television: Tom Bird dies at 86
Canadian television broadcasting has lost one of its pioneers with the death of Tom Bird this week.
Bird was one of the first broadcasters to hit the airwaves on CTV London, back when it was CFPL-TV, more than 60 years ago.
The former news reporter and long-time weather personality passed away Tuesday at the age of 86.
But for his daughter Paula, the public personality was just dad.
"Well you were known as Tom Bird's daughter and when we were small people would joke about 'Don't forget to feed the birds,'" Paula says.
His career began in radio, but when CFPL-TV hit the airwaves in 1953, he was among the first broadcasters on Canadian television.
He was best known to viewers as a weatherman for most of his career.
Former CTV weather anchor Jay Campbell worked with him for a short time, but the pair became friends after Tom's retirement in the early 1980s.
"For me what Tom did was make it very personable. So even after I became a professional meteorologist, and knew all of the jargon and stuff like that, I learned from him that you need to put it in a way that people really understand how it's going to impact on their life."
When he wasn't on air, Tom worked as a CFPL sales manager. That's when he hired Don Mumford, now the regional vice-president of radio and local TV for Bell Media.
"I often look back to Tom Bird and all of his colleagues from back in the 1950s, who were really true pioneers in the television industry. I mean London was the second private TV station that opened in Canada, shortly after the CBC. They were really breaking ground every single day they came to work."
But he was much more than just a weatherman, say friends and family, he was also heavily involved in giving back to his community.
Just a few years ago he helped get an east London skateboard park built as a member of the Kiwanis Club. He was also involved in several environmental causes.
In the end Tom was taken by cancer, and his family say he died peacefully.
Paula says "He just loved to be there for people but he didn't want to be in the spotlight, ironically, because he was on TV. But everyone loved his voice and I think I'll miss that."