- YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T. - Somewhere
in the murky depths of the continent's deepest lake, a monster lurks.
- Jim Lynn is sure of it.
- This week, the Roman Catholic priest was looking out
from his home on the shores of Great Slave Lake near Yellowknife when he
saw an object trailing a small boat across the water.
- "I got the goggles because it was moving fast and
I was kind of curious as to what it was," said Lynn, 66. "It
was high, six to eight feet above the water and moving at an incredulous
- "It was like the head of a dragon -- just coming
out of the water at just a ferocious speed, just moving like crazy."
- Lynn watched as the creature, which looked green, hurtle
behind an island, then disappear. He quickly called the Yellowknifer, a
local newspaper, to place a advertisement asking the person on the lake
that day to call him.
- "I would think they would have felt the waves (from
the creature)," he said.
- Step aside, Nessie and Ogopogo, there's a new mystery
leviathan on the block. And according to Chris Woodall, it's called Ol'Slavey.
- Woodall, a Yellowknifer columnist, wrote earlier this
summer that Great Slave Lake, with a maximum depth of 614 metres, hides
some weird and wonderful creature.
- To his surprise, his phone soon started ringing with
calls from people who claimed to have seen just such a thing. He gave the
- creature the name Ol'Slavey, after one of the aboriginal
languages in the Northwest Territories.
- It's a fitting name, since the Dene have many stories
about an unknown creature in the waters.
- When Antoine Michel was growing up in the traditional
community of Lutsel K'e, about 200 kilometres east of Yellowknife, he was
taught that a creature lived in the waters off Utsingi Point, about 80
kilometres southwest of the community. To appease the nameless creature,
people boating by the point pass in silence and pay respect to the lake
with tobacco offerings.
- "We usually stop the motor and go around the point,
paddle quietly," he said.
- Years later, he saw the creature himself, on a calm moonlit
night as he and his wife returned by boat from a caribou hunt.
- "We seen a rock there. I thought it was a rock first
time, there was seagulls around it," he said. "I just turned
away from it, I didn't want to hit it, (then) it just went down. I felt
the waves, and then I just took off. I didn't take a look back."
- Boaters have seen strange creatures suddenly surfacing
in the water in front of them. Lutsel K'e is near some of the deepest pockets
in Great Slave Lake, a natural habitat for a beast of the depths.
- Naysayers will say it's just a big fish, but northern
divers who actually swim those waters say differently.
- A decade ago, Arctic Divers was on a deep-water body
retrieval near Lutsel K'e when one of its divers saw a terrifying beast.
- "It looked much like an alligator, but with a head
like a pike," said Wayne Gzowski, the company's district manager.
- "I really do believe that there's unknown marine
life in a lot of these areas," he said, in places that have never
before been explored by humans.
- According to aboriginal legend, the great Mackenzie River
was created by a giant beaver. Rene Fumoleau, a retired Oblate priest and
respected northern historian, remembers a Gwich'in elder telling him that
a dragon now lives in the waters of Canada's biggest river.
- "There are some places where the water never freezes
in winter, and that is because there is that monster somewhere at the bottom
of the river that stirs the waters," he said.
- The Mackenzie flows out of Great Slave Lake; perhaps
Ol'Slavey moves between haunts. Whatever the case, Archie Catholique, the
chief of Lutsel K'e, is a believer.
- "The elders were saying that this thing here doesn't
bother anybody -- it's not there to hurt anybody," he said.
- But, he added, "people see it."
- FROM THE DEEP
- A quick compendium of reported water monsters includes:
- - Nessie: Scotland's fabled Loch Ness Monster was first
reported in AD 565 and has been regularly seen to this day.
- - Ogopogo: Native legends from British Columbia's Okanagan
Valley speak of a monster known as N'ha-a-itk who had to be appeased before
men ventured on to the lake. In 1942, the monster came to be known as Ogopogo
and is said to have a snake-like body, including several humps.
- - Other reported sightings of water monsters have come
from numerous Scottish lochs, Norwegian fiords, Wisconsin and Rocky Mountain
House, where in 1946 a local farmer claimed to have seen a huge, scaly-skinned
monster with fiery eyes, long teeth and a horn thrust its head out of the
water and swallow whole a calf which was feeding near the Clearwater River.
- Source: Journal News Services
- Ran with fact box "From The Deep", which has
been appended to this story.
- © The Edmonton Journal 2004