Canadiana 104

Imagine a lake. A long lake. Lake Okanagan defines the Okanagan valley in south/east in British Columbia, the western most province of canada. It is as large deep lake with a maximum depth of 232 meters. It is 135 km long, is between 4 and 5 km wide  and a surface area of 351 km².

© 2004 Derek K. Miller

Aerial view of Okanagan lake ©2004 Derek K. Miller

It is a beautiful sunny and hot summer playground, a place to spend vacation time. It offers all the fun and thrills that a fair sized lake could accomodate – from fishing, water skiing, jet skiing, windsurfing, kiteboarding, swimming or just cruising around the lake. Take your pick.

This lake is also good for a more thrilling mystery, reportedly inhabited by a cryptid called Ogopogo. O-go-po-go … imagine a 12-15m long lake monster, sea serpent or a lake demon named n’ha-a-itk (Naitaka) by the Salish first nation people of the area.

The Ogopogo, Canadas best known lake monster surfaced in media reports long before Scotland’s’ Nessie reared its head in 1933. In 1926, Roy W. Brown, then editor of the Vancouver Sun, wrote, ” Too many reputable people have seen [the monster] to ignore the seriousness of actual facts.”

Archival records of Ogopogo’s existence date back to 1872.  Sighting reports continue to the present.

Depiction of what is speculated that Ogopogo looks like - image curtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Blurry images, unidentifiable dark shapes and shaky film unfortunately do not do reported sightings justice. Nor do they offer any solid evidence to conclusively say what this creature actually is or if such a beast actually exists, however persistent sighting reports point to something larger than the local fishes in these waters.

Okanagan lake and Rattlesnake Island, said to be the home of Ogopogo lake monster - image curtesy google search.

Local lore has it that a demon-possessed man murdered a local named Old Kan-H-K; after whom lake Okanagan was named. The native gods punished the murdered by transforming him into a giant sea serpent, thus imprisoning him at the scene of his crime. Legend also says that when crossing the lake in small boats, the local Indians persented offerings such as small animals to appease the beast. It is also said that it’s lair is off Squally Point near Rattle Snake island.

Sighting reports date as far back as the early 1800’s. In 1860, John McDougal lost his team of horses when they were pulled under as he was swimming them across the lake in a canoe….never to be seen again.