Investigating fowl play

Puzzling poultry wanders the University District

David Timan, Sci ’13, and his favourite pet chicken, Fluffy.
David Timan, Sci ’13, and his favourite pet chicken, Fluffy.
Credit: 
Supplied by David Timan

An unexpected wake-up call ruffled some feathers in the University District last week with the discovery of some unclaimed chickens wandering free.

Just before 11 a.m. on Sept. 9, Hanna Glover, ArtSci ’16, posted a photo of the birds on the “Lost and Found Queen’s” Facebook page. The chickens were roaming freely in her yard on Victoria St.

In response to the mysterious poultry, Glover spoke to a neighbor for advice.

“We decided if they were still out tomorrow, we would call animal control,” she said, adding that both her brother and her neighbour’s child attempted to pick up the chickens.

Eventually the chickens disappeared, although Glover couldn’t say where to.

“I’m not sure who came to pick them up,” she said, “but they were on my front lawn for most of the day.”

Glover wasn’t the only resident alarmed by the hens. Masen Hunter Malone, ConEd ’18, who lives near Glover, happened to stroll past with a friend that morning.

Malone said she wasn’t surprised by the chickens themselves — she knew her neighbours had a chicken coop — but she wasn’t expecting to see them roaming free.

“After growing up in the country, I know what they’re capable of,” she said. She said the chickens moved together in a pack.

“It was really weird, because the cats that are always out wouldn’t even touch the chickens,” she said. “They were like a chicken gang, just out and about.”

As The Journal investigated further, several students said they’ve suspected other chicken coops have been kept around the University District.

Chloe Cheng, ArtSci ’18, moved to Pembroke St. four weeks ago. Though her location is far removed from Victoria St., she has her own questions regarding the puzzling fowl.

“I’ve been living here a month, and I’ve heard the chickens in the morning once or twice,” she said.

Students reported knowing of or suspecting the existence of chicken coops in various locations, including Earl and Frontenac St., Princess and Division St. and Albert St.

Other residents revealed that they kept chickens themselves.

Queen’s alumnus David Timan, Sci ’13, has kept six chickens with his housemates since his fourth year at Queen’s.

“The City told us we had to get rid of our goats, which were against the bylaws,” Timan said. “[Chickens were the] logical next step, for a house full of aspiring engineers and urban farmers.”

He said he’s fond of his chickens, including one named Ruby, who he referred to as “our most ghetto-hardened chicken”, and his favourite named Fluffy. They keep the chickens for their eggs, he said.

The lost chickens on Victoria St. didn’t belong to Timan, however.

 Matt Christie, ArtSci ’15, a former resident of the Victoria and Earl St. area, said the chickens likely belonged to his former neighbours. The family also had kept two or three hens for their eggs, he said.

“Our backyard neighbours, where I used to live in Kingston, were a super nice family,” he said. “Last summer they built a chicken coop in their backyard.”

Christie said the house is located on Victoria St. directly behind his previous residence at 150 Nelson St. For him, the chickens were welcome and well-behaved neighbours.

“The coop was right next to our bike shed, so we would see them whenever we left for campus or got back home,” he said. “[They] weren’t disruptive at all.”

A Kingston bylaw passed in November 2013 states that residents are permitted to keep up to six hens of at least four weeks of age in their backyards.

The bylaw was passed after a two-year  trial period as a pilot bylaw beginning June 2011. It requires owners to submit a yearly permit request to the city’s Building and Licensing Division and abide by specified regulations.

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