By Sue Tiffin
When Daisy Duke died at the end of January, Andrea Hagarty was inundated with comments, e-mails, messages, photos and stories of the eight-year-old pig that had become a beloved icon and mascot of the Bonnie View Inn.
“[Daisy] lived a very loved ‘pig life’ full of adventure, visits from many, many, many friends and soooooo much good food from the Bonnie View restaurant,” said Hagarty on an Instagram post eulogizing Daisy on Jan. 30.
“So sorry to hear about Daisy,” said one commenter in response. “One of the things we looked forward to at breakfast at Bonnie View was taking some fruit to Daisy and seeing [that] tail wag.”
“So many wonderful memories of me calling you to the fence for the guests to see you,” said another. “Serving breakfast and getting some very interested kids excited to give you some wonderful leftovers and coming to see you to give you a good scratch.”
“[Daisy] was such a good pig, and a friend to all,” said another.
Hagarty has long been known for her love of pigs, an animal she found cute and comforting, and that became the theme of birthdays and Christmas gifts to her. She had always wanted a pet pig, but her home in Mississauga wasn’t an ideal spot for an animal. In 1992, when she knew she would be staying at the Bonnie View Inn for a long period of time, she said she “put it out there” that she was looking for a pet pig. That’s how Penelope, a miniature Vietnamese pot-bellied pig from a family on Gelert Road, came to be the first pig to live at the inn and start making connections, facilitating friendships and providing unique interactions for stories.
“A couple of years ago I was with my husband at Wanderlust in Mount Tremblant,” said Hagarty. “We were guiding a hike and I was the sweep [at the] back of the group. There were two people at the back with me and we got talking. I said I lived in Haliburton and owned a resort called the Bonnie View Inn – the lady said, ‘my dad gave a lady at a resort a pig years ago!’ Crazy small world. That was Penelope.”
Penelope was at first an indoor pig, who would greet guests in the lobby, sit, stand and roll over and was completely house trained. But after Hagarty’s son was born, Penelope became jealous, stealing his soother when he dropped it, chewing it up and spitting it back at him. Eventually she moved outside and became an outdoor pig, living in a pen next to the inn with a heated insulated shed in the back and a walk-out so she didn’t have to touch the snow in winter.
“She was popular for guests and kids from all over to visit her and feed her vegetables,” reads a history of the pigs written by Hagarty. “She was an amazing composter for leftovers in the restaurant, except for the snow peas she would leave off to the side.”
Penelope eventually died of old age in 2008, leaving behind a legacy and an empty pen.
“After her, I didn’t want another pig ever again at first,” said Hagarty. “But the guests came all that year and wanted to see a pig – hence, I got Daisy.”
Friends of Andrea found Daisy at a farm on Hwy 11, and soon Daisy was as popular as Penelope, acquiring a well-fed job at the Bonnie View as the inn icon, where a pig became part of the logo and the patio, Daisy’s, was named for the new addition to the Bonnie View family.
“Daisy was so funny,” said Hagarty. “She loved people. Loved food.”
The inn gift shop had piggy banks and pig logos on the shirts, and when guests asked ‘why the pigs?,’ Hagarty responded by hanging a framed story of her love for pigs in the lobby, a space filled with more than 1,200 pig-themed gifts guests had brought Hagarty through the years.
“I had them up on shelves in the lobby so when a guest returned, I could say – there is your pig!,” said Hagarty. “I still get them! I have the ones from the lobby in my house now in Minden on the back deck, because truly each one is special. For Christmas this year we had a ‘pig’ theme at our house with the outside decorations from guests gifts – light up ones.”
When Daisy was small, Hagarty felt bad that the pig was outside alone, and asked online if anyone had kittens.
“I had read that they were the best friends for pigs,” said Hagarty. “A few days later, a local lady brought me a box of kittens she was looking for homes for, super little, and I picked one. It lived inside for a bit but then I tried to introduce her to Daisy and there was no way it was staying outside … it kept coming back inside.”
That cat was Jazz, a kitty with an Instagram (@wheresjazzthecat) who lives in Minden and has a story of her own, quickly finding ways to be welcomed into snack-filled homes of neighbours and taking walks along the Riverwalk with visitors.
“A few years later we found kittens across the road, not sure where they came from, but one found Daisy and they became best friends,” said Hagarty. “I called it Fred and he hung out sometimes on [Daisy’s] back.”
When Hagarty closed the inn last winter, there was no food from the restaurant, power on for heat or people around to take care of Daisy, and Randy and Sue MacDonald at Killara Station said yes right away to taking Daisy – and Daisy’s cat, Fred – in.
“Randy and Sue took wonderful care of Daisy,” said Hagarty.
They also noticed that Daisy might be more of a Duke.
“I thought Daisy was a ‘she’ the entire time I had ‘her,’” said Hagarty. “Then when she got to Killara Station, we found out ‘she’ was a ‘he’.”
Daisy was missed at the Bonnie View, where Hagarty said the past summer without the beloved pig there, “it was constant, people looking for [Daisy].”
Now, after Daisy’s death, the well-known pig will be missed throughout the county and by Bonnie View Inn guests from near and far. “The reaction is way bigger then I imagined, over 600 interactions between Facebook and Instagram, over 150 comments/emails and messages with pictures,” said Hagarty. “We will have some kind of memory book here at the inn in the history section for sure.”