Meet the true stars of Stratford—our swans!
If there's one image that says Stratford to everyone who visits, it is our swans. Regal, graceful, majestic—these are all words that describe these noble birds. Stratford's honorary ambassadors set the pace for the city. But beware—they can be cranky, and one should keep one’s distance. These birds are, after all, royalty!
The presence of this Royal Family is one of our oldest and proudest traditions. The swans have been lovingly guarded and raised here in Stratford since 1918. You can download and read about our pride and joy in the brochure The Swans of Stratford, or pick up the book The Swans of Stratford, written by the late Robert Miller, the Honorary Keeper of the Swans, at a local book store.
These beautiful birds are so important to Stratford that we don’t consider spring officially launched until their annual release. One could be excused for thinking that this must be an event of Wagnerian proportions, with these mighty birds bursting forth from their winter pens to the fanfare of trumpets. But what you'll discover instead is the quirky charm of a small-town parade when you join the feathery herd as it waddles along, its members goosing one another (pardon the pun) on their way to the Avon River, as people watch and cheer them on. The Stratford Police Services Pipe Band provides musical accompaniment, which adds to the pomp and tongue-in-cheek circumstance. But beware—you'll be observed, too: the swans have been penned up all winter, so you can be sure they'll stretch their curious heads to take a gander at you! (Okay, we’ll stop with the avian puns now.)
You can learn more about these gorgeous creatures from our videos below that discuss their mating habits, hatching, and tending, and that reveal to you the scandal of swan adultery— the Story of Bonnie and Clyde! These are narrated by Colm Feore to music by Loreena McKennitt, both residents of Stratford.
The Annual Swan Weekend is April 1st & 2nd, 2017.
For more information on the Swan Parade, ring 1-800-561-7926.