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Canadian Legends: Ogopogo

Updated: Mar 11

Before we get into today's post I wanted to mention that this information is coming from Wikipedia. However I am adding a couple other links as well.




In Canadian folklore, the Ogopogo is a lake monster said to inhabit Okanagan Lake in British Columbia, Canada. Some scholars have charted the entity's development from First Nations folklore and widespread water monster folklore motifs. The Ogopogo now plays a role in the commercial symbolism and media representation of the region.

Okanagan Lake is the largest if 5 inter-connected freshwater fjord lakes in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Named after the First Nations people who first inhabited the area, it was created when melting glaciers flooded the valley 10,000 years ago. It stretches for 127.l km (79 miles) and has a maximum depth of 232.3 metres (762 feet) and an average depth of 75.9 metres (249 feet). Okanagan Lake has frozen over during 8 winters in the last 110 years.



Native Origins

The Secwepemc and Syilx natives regarded the Ogopogo, which they called the Naitaka, as "an evil supernatural entity with great power and ill intent." The work "N'ha-a-itk" has various translations, such as "water-demon", "water-god", or "sacred creature of the water". In native lore, Naitaka demanded a live sacrifice for safe crossing of the lake. For hundreds of years, First Nations would sacrifice small animals before entering the water. Oral traditions often describe visiting chief Timbasket, who rejected the required sacrifice, denying the existence of the demon. Upon entering the lake on a canoe with his family, "Naitaka "whipped up the surface of the lake with his long tail" and the canoe and its occupants were sucked to the bottom of the lake. The Naitaka was often described as using its tail to create fierce storms to drown victims. In 1855, settler John MacDougal claimed that his horses were sucked down into the water, and nearly his canoe before he cut the line.

The demonic view of Naitaka supposedly came about through miscommunication between Canada's early European settlers and the Syilx/Okanagan people. To the Syilx, its n ̓x̌ax̌aitkʷ (n-ha-ha-it-koo), a sacred spirit of the lake that protects the valley. The spirit was said to dwell in caves under Rattlesnake Island (a.k.a. Monster Island) or adjacent to Squally Point.

Alleged Sightings

Susan Allison's 1872 sighting was the first detailed Ogopogo account from a white settler. She was the first non-native person to live in the region, establishing relations with the native peoples.

While driving on Highway 97 in 1968, Art Folden noticed something moving in the lake. He pulled off the road and filmed what he claimed to be footage of the alleged creature, showing a large wake moving across the water. Foldern estimated that the Ogopogo was 300 yards offshore. A computer analysis of the footage concluded it was a solid, three-dimensional object. Folden noticed "something large and lifelike"; in the distance out on the calm water and pulled out his home movie camera to capture the object. A 2005 investigation conducted by Benjamin Radford with Joe Nickell and John Kirk for the National Geographic Channel TV show Is It Real?, utilized surveyor boats to find the actual distance of the alleged creature from the shore. They found that it was much closer to shore than originally thought, resulting in a reduction of actual size and speed. They concluded that it was likely a real animal but its size had been greatly overestimated and that it was probably a water fowl, otter, or beaver too far away to be identified.

In the 1980s, a local tourism agency offered a cash reward for a proven sighting of the beast. Greenpeace announced that the beast must be filmed and not captured; the Ogopogo was listed as an endangered species. In 1980, around 50 tourists watched an alleged Ogopogo for about 45 minutes off a beach at Kelowna. Larry Thal, a tourist from Vancouver, shot some 8mm film, albeit for only 10 seconds. Some skeptics have suggested that it was only a pair of otters. In 1989, John Kirk reportedly saw an animal which was 10.7 to 12.2 metre (35 to 40 feet) long and consisted of "five sleek jet-black humps" with a lashing tail. He believed it to be traveling at around 40 kilometres (25 miles) per hour.

On July 24, 1992, Paul Demara videotaped "something or some things" that were "traveling just below the surface of the water at a fairly good speed, estimated at 8 kilometre (5 miles) per hour." A boat towing a water skier suddenly appears in frame and the skier falls into the water near the object. Within several minutes, DeMara made two other videotapes, each showing what appeared to be multiple animals in the water. Benjamin Radford suggested that the creature was only several otters. In 2005, FBI video specialist Grant Fredricks concluded that the object "was very consistent with debris from a fallen tree in the water," noting that it "very slowly bobs up and down." He also pointed out that the alleged creature did not react to the water skier, and the skier did not seem alarmed.

In 2011, a cell phone video captured two dark shapes in the water. A suggested explanation is that the video shows two logs. Radford analyzed the video for Discovery News and concluded that “The video quality is poor and the camera is shaky, but a closer look at the 30-second video reveals that, instead of one long object, there are actually two shorter ones, and they seem to be floating next to each other at slightly different angles. There are no humps, nor head, nor form; only two long, darkish, more or less straight forms that appear to be a few dozen feet long. In short, they look a lot like floating logs, which would not be surprising since Okanagan Lake has tens of thousands of logs harvested by the timber industry floating just under the lake's surface."

In September 2018, there were reportedly three sightings, one of which was described as a giant snake that was about 15 m (49 ft) long.



According to skeptical author Benjamin Radford, contemporary sightings of Ogopogo were most likely misidentifications of water fowl, otter, or beaver, adding, "[the First Nations stories] were not referring to a literal lake monster like Ogopogo, but instead to a legendary water spirit. Though the supernatural N'ha-a-itk of the Okanagan Valley Indians are long gone, a decidedly less fearsome — and more biological — beast, whose exact form is a matter of debate, has replaced it.". Joe Nickel and Benjamin Radford propose an origin in claims of "sightings" in wildlife in the region. Otters often swim in a row and their motion can often be mistaken for one continuous serpent. Radford pointed to John Kirk's 1989 sighting as likely being a group of otters. Sturgeon are often mistaken as lake monsters, but their existence in Okanagan is unclear. There is currently an unclaimed $10,000 dollar reward for concrete evidence of sturgeon in Okanagan. Benjamin Radford has pointed to waterspouts as a likely source of inspiration for First Nation myths. Waterspouts are fairly common on Okanagan Lake, often forming when air temperatures drop and the lake still has a relatively warm water temperature.


What do you believe?

For me I don't know what to believe, on one hand its possible given how large the lake is you don't know what's hiding down there, but on the other hand, by now I think that if there was something down there why haven't any washed ashore, or why haven't we seen any bones found. In my opinion until concrete evidence is found saying yay or nay I don't know where I stand.


Something interesting I found to watch


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