Smokey saves a swan

Smokey Goving, carrying the wayward swan to safety. Photo by JC Kenny.

Warren ‘Smokey’ Goving was the kind of kid who was always coming home with wild creatures.

“I’ve always loved animals,” he says. “I’d come home [and] go, ‘Mom, I found something,’ and she’d say, ‘What is it this time?’ I’ve always done it.”

One wonders what Mom would have said had her dear one entered the house with a swan in tow.

Smokey, a Kingston Transit driver, happened to be driving on the Waaban Crossing in his personal vehicle one day in mid-March when he spotted a large swan that, for some reason, was travelling from east to west on foot.  

“I was crossing the bridge, and I noticed [that] a car coming towards me swerved, all of a sudden, over into my lane. And then I saw what she was swerving around: it was a swan on the bridge. So I went to the far end of the bridge, made a U-turn, and got behind it. I put my four-ways on and kept edging along with my truck.” 

Smokey continues, “About halfway across the bridge — that’s a long bridge to walk that far — I guess he got exhausted. He just squatted and sat, and he wouldn’t move.”

A man happened to walking across the bridge with two children and came over to help. He walked in front of Smokey’s truck, clapping his hands and waving his arms to warn traffic to slow down and alert drivers that there was a hazard. 

“We got [the swan] on the other side where it wanted to go,” Smokey says. “There was no way for it to get back to the water; it was fenced off and [there was] too much ice on the west side of the bridge. So I grabbed the quilt out of my truck and we threw the quilt over him and we wrapped him up. And I got the fella to put his kids in the front seats on my truck, and he sat in the back with a swan all wrapped in a blanket, till I got to the other side.”

Once there, Smokey says, “I took it down this deep embankment, down to the water — almost lost a shoe in the process, going through deep snow.” Smokey unwrapped the blanket and the swan saw the water, sprang to its feet, and then almost ran across the water to get out to the middle.

An unnamed man gently urges the swan to move along, while Smokey follows in his truck to provide cover. Photo submitted.

Why was the swan walking on the bridge to begin with? Smokey laughs, “I guess he just wanted to get to the other side.”

It is a good thing Smokey was in his personal vehicle and not his Kingston Transit bus at the time, he says. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it driving the bus; I would have passengers… [but] I’d have assisted in other ways.”

And he has. One time, Smokey assisted a woman who fell and hit her head on the pavement. He says, “I stayed with her until somebody brought her across the street to her doctor’s office.” Another time, he saw a dog in the middle of a busy intersection, collected it, and took it to the Humane Society where the owner picked it up.

“I’ve always been involved with animals. Years ago, in Ottawa, I used to run a foster home for the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), and I’d go through between 50 and 200 dogs a year,” he says. Mother dogs with litters of puppies that would otherwise be euthanized came instead to Smokey’s place, where he would raise them to find homes.

“I’m a Maritimer,” Smokey explains. “I was brought up [to believe] if somebody is in trouble, or something is in trouble, and you can help, you do it.”

It’s a pretty good policy no matter where you are from.

Last week was Transit Driver Appreciation Week. “Our Transit staff are incredible frontline workers, providing friendly service across the City day in and day out,” the City of Kingston relayed in a statement. “Smokey [Goving] went above and beyond late last week to rescue an errant traveller on the Waaban Crossing.”

In Celtic myth, a pair of swans steered the Sunboat across heaven. In Kingstonian fact, Smokey steered the Waaban swan to safety.

One thought on “Smokey saves a swan

  • Good for you Smokey, as well as the others who helped out. Interesting note here. Nothing to do with the article, but this is the second time I’ve encountered the name Warren, with the nickname Smokey. Go figure.

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