I walk only 100 yards from my home to pay daily visits to the Queen of Fairy Lake.
Her Royal Highness is a beautiful snow-white Mute Swan that I have named "Queenie" because she is so wonderfully majestic. Queenie cruises the waters of Fairy Lake like a schooner, leaving behind a perfect wake as she surveys her domain and tolerates a following of ducks that are always careful not to invade her immediate space.
If Queenie is in a good mood she will glide over to our vantage point on the bank and give my dog Lucy a couple of playful, not-so-mute "honks" just to establish her supremacy over the water she plies. Customarily, dogs are not swans' best friends.
Fairy Lake is actually an oasis of quiet, natural beauty with a perimeter trail that for the most part is a well-kept secret, even locally. It is difficult to believe that a little more than 100 years ago Queenie's domain was an industrial site where Isaac Bowman and Henry Zinkan built a tannery just above the northern bank of the lake. The tannery grew to become Southampton's major employer, until fire completely destroyed it on July 31st., 1900, throwing 100 employees out of work.
Houses, including ours shown in the Wrights Lane masthead, were eventually built on the site which was appropriatley named Tannery Hill. When I was digging out a couple of large tree stumps last year I uncovered several pieces of tanning bark and burnt leather strips from the old tanning factory. Other remnants from the fire are on display in the Bruce County Museum and Culture Centre which is located on the opposite side of the lake. A large iron wheel that had been part of the hulking machinery in the tanning factory was retrieved from the bottom of the lake in 1983 and stands as a monument at the foot of the hill just below our property.
This kind of history fascinates me no end. Just about as much as a certain regal swan that makes Fairy Lake her home.
Tannery machine wheel was retrieved from Fairy Lake 85 years after historic fire.
Nature trail circumvents Fairy Lake