Saturday, October 15, 2005

Search is On for Canadian Lake Monster

Joe Nickell
Skeptical Inquirer, NY

Toronto (Canada):

Canada's Lake Simcoe, some forty miles north of Toronto, supposedly holds a monster known as Igopogo (after its more famous relative Ogopogo, in Lake Okanagan, British Columbia) as well as other appellations. Residents of Beaverton, on the eastern shore, call it Beaverton Bessie, while others refer to it as Kempenfelt Kelly, after Kempenfelt Bay, which has the lake's deepest water and claims the most sightings.
Sources refer vaguely to early "Indian legends" of the monster and sporadic reports of a "sea serpent" in the lake during the nineteenth century. Important sightings occurred in 1952 and 1963, and a "sonar sounding of a large animal" in 1983 was followed by a videotape in 1991 of "a large, seal-like animal."
Significantly, according to John Robert Colombo in his book "Mysterious Canada," "No two descriptions of Kempenfelt Kelly coincide." Nevertheless , writer George M. Eberhart, in his book "Mysterious Creatures," attempted a portrait:
Physical Description: Seal-like animal. Length, 12–70 feet. Charcoal-gray color. Dog- or horse-like face. Prominent eyes. Gaping mouth. Neck is like a stovepipe. Several dorsal fins. Fishlike tail.
In August 2005, supported by Discovery Canada television's science program "Daily Planet," and by the tourism department of the city of Barrie, investigator Benjamin Radford and I went in search of the elusive creature. We conducted interviews and searched Kempenfelt Bay using a boat equipped with sonar and an underwater camera.
We first visited the home of local retired businessman Arch Brown, who told us he coined the name "Kempenfelt Kelly" and himself had had four sightings of the legendary monster. He acknowledged that he was predisposed to believe in the existence of the creature. His Scottish father had told him of the Loch Ness Monster, and, since he himself formerly resided in British Columbia, he well knew of Ogopogo there. When he moved to Barrie many years ago, he said, he was prompted by local reports to be "on the lookout" for the monster, spending many hours at the task.
Oct 14 2005

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