Nova Scotia

Diana, the last of the Public Gardens geese, has died

Staff found Diana, a Toulouse goose bred in Nova Scotia, dead in her enclosure near the main gate of the Public Gardens early last week.

'The Toulouse [geese] ... have a very placid disposition ... and she was very pleasant'

Diana was the last of the Public Gardens geese. She was found dead of natural causes in her enclosure early last week. (The Friends of the Public Gardens)

The last of the Halifax Public Gardens geese has died.

Staff found Diana, a Toulouse goose bred in Nova Scotia, dead in her enclosure near the main gate of the Public Gardens early last week.

Judith Cabrita, past chair and board member of The Friends of the Public Gardens, has been a volunteer for about a decade.

She said Diana, who had lived in the Public Gardens for the past eight years, died peacefully of natural causes.

"I think she was very special," she said.  

"I got an email about a month ago saying that somebody was coming back to Halifax and they wanted to know whether the goose was there because that was one of the highlights of their visit to the gardens."

Diana, right, joined Flora, left, in the Public Gardens about eight years ago. (The Friends of the Public Gardens)

Diana was a strikingly large goose. People would often react with surprise seeing her, said Cabrita.

Unlike other geese family members which have run afoul of humans in the past, Cabrita said Diana was quite a nice goose.

"One of the things about the Toulouse goose is they have a very placid disposition ... and she was very pleasant," said Cabrita.

"They weigh about 10 kilograms, on average. Where they're quite large, people would be amazed that she would be loose because of the size and they're not used to seeing geese that size."

Toulouse geese are a cold-weather hardy species. Each winter Diana, like her cousins in Sullivan's Pond in Dartmouth, would be packed up and brought to Hope for Wildlife sanctuary but would get some time to enjoy the colder weather.

"She really loved being there for the winter," said Cabrita.

Diana was brought in to join Flora the goose after her companion goose died. She was full grown and Cabrita couldn't say how old she was at the time.

Rowena Hardy and her family have been regular visitors and geese fans since the birds were first brought into the gardens.

Cheyenne Hardy won a contest in 2010 for the right to name Flora, the goose on the right. (Rowena Hardy)

In 2010, Hardy's daughter, Cheyenne, won a contest to name Flora, who died about two years ago. 

"She had just learned the word 'flora' in school and when we told her that Mayor Kelly had this contest on named the goose and it was over in the Public Gardens she said I think a good name would be Flora so she submitted it and she won," said Hardy.

"She just turned 18 last month and she still, she would go over and spend hours with the geese because to her it was like she grew up with them."

Hardy said Cheyenne even "enlisted her grandmother to go over with her every summer to go and sit with the geese."

When Cheyenne's grandmother died, she left her a Royal Doulton figurine from her collection.

"It said, 'Our days in the garden,' and it was a lady with a basket of flowers to represent Flora. So that's really how important these geese have been to our family," said Hardy.

Cheyenne Hardy's grandmother left her this figurine when she died that says 'Our days in the garden.' (Rowena Hardy)

The Public Gardens has been home to geese and swans for nearly 100 years, since King George V donated the first pair of swans in 1926, according the The Friends of the Public Gardens' website.

Cabrita said it'll be up to the gardens' management to decide who the new feathered residents will be, but said one of The Friends of the Public Gardens board members has been researching species of swans that would make a good fit.

"We've had several geese over the years and now we're thinking maybe it might be time to go back to swans," said Cabrita.  

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