Lake Huron mystery
Photo by Lishansky Photography

5 unsolved mysteries surrounding Canadian lakes

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We may not have Loch Ness, but there are plenty of mysteries associated with Canadian lakes just the same—and some of them even involve sea monsters. While a few of them are creepy, others are just plain head-scratching.

Tom Thomson

Called “Canada’s Van Gogh” (albeit with both his ears intact), painter Tom Thomson’s body was found on July 16, 1917 after it surfaced on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. Investigators noted a bruise on his left temple and fishing line wrapped around his ankle. Considered to be a simple misadventure by the authorities, stories nonetheless have swirled for years about whether Thomson—an experienced outdoorsman—really could have met his end simply by falling out of his canoe. Others have suggested suicide or foul play resulting from a conflict over debt, love, or opinions on the war effort. Then there’s the mystery surrounding his body—was it exhumed at his family’s request, or was it left buried at Canoe Lake? No one really knows for sure.

Couple vanishes while boating on Lake Huron

While travelling from Belle Isle, Ontario, along the Lake Huron coastline toward the Straits of Mackinac, something tragic happened to Chuck Rutherford and his girlfriend, Lana Stempien. The problem is, no one really knows what. The couple’s boat, Sea’s Life, was found significantly off-course, its engine idling and radio still playing. And although Stempien’s (nude) body washed up in Hammond Bay, Michigan two weeks later—still wearing a non-waterproof $1,500 watch—Rutherford’s remains have never been found. To this day, no one knows exactly how the couple met their ends.

Canada’s sea monsters

Although Ogopogo — the creature reputed to live in B.C.’s Lake Okanagan — is Canada’s most famous sea monster, according to the CBC Western Canada has no fewer than 19 lakes with sightings of some kind of unusual creature. Whether it’s Kinosoo in Cold Lake, Alberta (whose name comes from the Plains Cree word for “fish”) or the Thetis Lake Monster (possibly an escaped Tupinambis lizard) in B.C., it’s clear that something’s in the water. Actually, Ontario has its share of weird monsters, too, including Mishipeshu in Lake Superior, which apparently has the head and claws of a panther, along with scales and spines.

The Anjikuni mystery

In 1930, a fur trapper named Joe Labelle discovered that an Inuit fishing village on Nunavut’s Anjikuni Lake—one he knew well, and had visited often—had completely been emptied of people. Labelle found charred stews over cooking fires, rifles, and half-finished mending left behind—all clues that pointed to a quick exit by the village’s inhabitants. Subsequent investigations by the RCMP apparently turned up reports of weird bluish lights in the sky, carcasses of sled dogs that had mysteriously starved to death, and opened graves. Although the RCMP website says the entire story is a fabrication from the 1950s, contemporary accounts of the mystery were published shortly after it happened.

Ghost ships of the Great Lakes

Well known for shipwrecks, the Great Lakes are also said to be home of a fleet of ghostly ships that patrol the waters, including the Griffon, the Bannockburn, and the W.H. Gilcher. Whether or not that’s true remains to be seen, but ships that have been wrecked are often very difficult to find, especially in the deep, frigid waters of Lake Superior. Fortunately, some are found, sometimes a century after going down.


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