When you travel along The Strand on Belle Isle during summer months, you see an active and particularly attractive fountain near the Windsor shoreline spouting water to considerable heights. This is the world’s only floating fountain. It is located off shore near Windsor’s Coventry Gardens.
That park was established in 1931 and then expanded to about 10 acres in 1975, meaning that it is a small area compared to the 910 acres in Belle Isle. It does have a great array of appealing flowers during the brief summer months.
This fountain is assembled and put in place in May of every year and then removed with the onset of cold weather. To produce the colors you see at night, there are 150 lights with wattage ranging from 500 to 1000. The fountain pumps about 12,000 gallons of water per minute to a height of approximately 22 meters. It operates from 11 in the morning until 11 in the evening from late May to the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday in October.
There are quite a few memorials in the Windsor and Detroit area commemorating wars, military events and generals. There are many fewer public works of art commemorating or promoting peace. Fortunately, there are two that are very near each other: The Nancy Brown Peace Carillion on Belle Isle, designed by Clarence Day and dedicated in 1940, and the Charles Brooks Peace Fountain in Windsor.
Mr. Brooks was a union activist employed at Chrysler’s large Windsor plant. He served as president of Canadian Auto Worker’s (CAW) local #444 from 1956 until 1977. At the time, that local was one of the largest and most powerful within the CAW. Brooks was viewed as highly successful in winning battles with his employer, victories that set a precedent for the CAW in their negotiations with Ford and General Motors.
In 1977, an employee who had been a member of Local #444 and had been discharged by Chrysler three times, sought to get his job back. Chrysler refused to rehire him. Apparently, the former employee concluded that Charles Brooks did not do enough to return him to Chrysler’s payroll. He shot and killed Mr. Brooks. When the fountain you see pictured here was installed it was named to honor one of the city’s most effective union leaders.
Designer of the fountains: Unknown to me
Date of installation: After 1977.
Photograph: Ren Farley; June 22, 2016
Description prepared: June, 2016
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