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Swans of Stratford & Forest Motel

The swans of Stratford have been an iconic, statuesque part of Stratford's history for a century. The Avon River in Stratford boasts a healthy and diverse herd of swans which traces its lineage, in part, to a pair of Royal Mute Swans from Battle Creek, Michigan in 1918 and six pairs given as a centennial gift to the Prime Minister of Canada in 1967 from Queen Elizabeth II's Swan Keeper


At the Forest Motel & Woodland Retreat, the swans have become family for over 35 years.

We welcome a pair of nesting swans each spring as part of the program to provide the swans with an adequate territory to raise their young. We have had Napolean and Josephine, Andy, Jake and many cygnets over the years. Napolean's mother and father, Mickey and Minnie, were lifelong residents of Forest Motel and Woodland Retreat. Mickey and Minnie were the first swans to grace the lovely McCarthy Lake at the Forest Motel. The City of Stratford loaned us this pair due to the aggressive and territorial nature of Mickey on Lake Victoria in Stratford. What started out as an Alcatraz for local swans, became a wonderful tradition of swankeeping at The Forest Motel & Woodland Retreat.

Every swan on the Avon River in Stratford, Ontario is registered with Environment Canada and wears an identifying leg band. Each winter, Stratford's Park Management shelters the swans in their Winter Quarters. In the spring the swans are paraded to the river accompanied by the Perth County Pipe Band and attended by the press and hundreds of onlookers.

The historical saga of the swans, and the skirmishes between them, can be found on the documentary video, Swans on the Avon, and also in the historical book The Swans of Stratford.

As our nesting pair raises their young cygnets, at the end of the season in late October the whole family is returned to the Winter Quarters with all of the other swans of Stratford. It is there that the young swans are given a leg band and they are recorded under their parents' names. Eventually over the next few years these new swans will choose a mate and the naming of a new couple occurs.

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