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Ogopogo, the ‘bashful monster’

The Story

Does Scotland's Loch Ness monster have a Canadian cousin? Legend says there's a similar creature lurking in the waters of Okanagan Lake in the B.C. Interior. In the 1920s the monster was dubbed Ogopogo, and since then tourists have flocked to the lake hoping to glimpse the shy beast. A sighting in August 1980 has captured the attention of a CBC reporter who wonders if the witnesses have been enjoying happy hour a little too much. 

Medium: Television
Program: Saturday Evening News
Broadcast Date: Aug. 16, 1980
Guests: Arlene Gaal, Allan Johnson, Noel Melrose
Host: Jan Tennant
Reporter: Bob Gillingham Duration: 2:51

Did You know?

• Ogopogo got its name from a popular 1924 British dance hall song of the same name. The lyrics, in part, said: "His mother was an earwig, his father was a whale."
• Before then the creature was known by a name bestowed by local Native tribes: Naitaka, or "lake devil." According to legend, they tried to distract the monster by throwing a small animal into the lake before traversing it.

• Recorded sightings of a lake monster in Okanagan Lake date to 1872. Witnesses report seeing the creature mainly in June through September; it's believed Ogopogo hibernates in a cave during the winter months.
• Sightings reached a peak in the summer of 1990. A Japanese camera crew filmed a TV special on the lake that year and returned in 1991 for a sequel.
• In 1956 the Okanagan Lake towns of Vernon and Kelowna both claimed "ownership" of Ogopogo.

• Author Arlene Gaal, who appears in this clip, is an authority on Ogopogo, having published several books on the subject between 1976 and 2001. She also claims to have spotted Ogopogo on numerous occasions.
• In 1989 a car salesman names Ken Chaplin shot video that he was certain depicted Ogopogo. After holding out for the highest bidder, he sold it to the U.S. TV show Unsolved Mysteries for a rumoured $30,000 US.

• B.C. wildlife experts and various scientists who examined the video concluded Chaplin had captured not Ogopogo but a less exotic beaver or otter.
• In October 2004 the Casorso family of Kelowna reported a close encounter with Ogopogo while docked in a houseboat on Okanagan Lake. It was one of nine reported sightings in 2004.

• Besides Ogopogo, sightings of lake monsters have been reported in many other places across Canada:
- "Champ" has been spotted in Lake Champlain, which borders Quebec and the states of New York and Vermont.
- "Memphre" hails from Quebec's Lake Memphremagog.
- Lake Simcoe in Ontario boasts two monsters: "Igopogo" and "Kempenfelt Kelly."
- "Manipogo" lives in Lake Manitoba.

• The most famous lake monster of all is Scotland's Loch Ness monster. In 1934 a London doctor named Robert Wilson snapped a widely published picture of the creature, causing a worldwide sensation.
• In 1994 the photo was exposed as a hoax. A man named Christian Spurling told two researchers that the "monster" in the photo was created by his stepfather, who used a toy submarine and a carved neck and head to create the image in Wilson's photo.



Monsters, Myths and Mystery: Great Canadian Legends more