What’s in your lake?

Lake monster

In 2007, a “thirty-foot something” was spotted here—in Glamor Lake, near Gooderham, Ont.—by Brandon Steen and his wife. While visiting friends, they were shocked to see a large, fast-moving hump break the surface of the water in bright, illuminating sunshine. A sketch by Steen shows a long creature with sharp scales covering its arched back.

Was this a lake monster sighting, or just a sideways glance of a briefly exposed rock? I decide to set the record straight.

Although I feel confident that I’m safe, snorkelling out into the water specifically to hunt a monster turns the lake eerie. I kick off from my dock and watch the lake bottom slowly fade away. Then, I have nothing to do but stare at nothingness. 
And think about the monster.

Glamor Lake is small and mostly shallow, and barely supports a fish population. To survive undetected, a monster would require equal parts stealth and anorexia. Still, Steen had told me the stories he’d heard: Of two fishermen who saw a large, swift creature in the water, and a father and son who drowned when their boat snapped mysteriously.

I do vaguely remember snorkelling here as a kid and seeing the faint outline of a sunken rowboat on the lakebed. I watch small flecks of sediment float on a backdrop of forest-green gloom. I can’t help but wonder how much time 
I’d have to react in this murky darkness. Something snapped that boat. But what? I turn back, anxiously, mission inconclusive. Searching for the paranormal is odd. No matter how dismissive you 
are when you start out, the silence, the waiting, and the anticipation all conspire to raise doubt. What happens if you actually find what you’ve been looking for?

Manitou Niba Nibais, Lake Superior: 
In 1782, voyageur Venant St. Germain swore he had seen a child-like merman off the shores of Pie Island, south of Thunder Bay. Aboriginals in the area reportedly called the creature Manitou Niba Nibais, the God of the Water and Lakes. According to other sea-monster reports, there is at least one serpentine creature in Lake Superior too.

Great Snake, Lake Erie: 
In the late 19th century, the entire crew of an American ship claimed to have seen a creature 15 metres long and one 
metre around, with “viciously sparking” eyes, sloshing about in the lake. Approximately one hundred years later, the Great Snake reappeared, reportedly crushing a 38-foot sailboat.

Igopogo, Lake Simcoe: 
Possibly the most famous of the Ontario lake monsters, with sightings dating back to 1881, Igopogo has been seen sunbathing, and even caught on radar. Some think the monster is simply a type of inland seal, which explains the sunbathing, but not the size (10 to 20 metres long).

Mussie, Muskrat Lake: 
Noted as early as the 1600s, the single-toothed Mussie then apparently eluded humanity for 300 years, blowing its cover again in 1916. Mussie is reportedly up to seven metres long, with silvery skin, a fin, and two humps.

Kingstie, Lake Ontario: 
Spotted more than half a dozen times since 1829, most recently in 2004, Kingstie is either very, very old or has managed to reproduce. The 8- to 12-metre-long, horned, maned creature is rumoured to have several feet and a powerful tail.