Saturday, January 12, 2008


The old man turned quite serious as he continued with his story.

“…And so suddenly, about half mile from shore, the boat started to rock. We held onto the sides. The water beside the boat began to boil just like something was trying to get to the surface.”

“The Serpent”, I ask?

The 65-year old resident of Serpent River, Ontario shrugged his shoulders. It was clear that he had asked himself the same question many times in the years that have followed his experience. One thing was for certain. For him it was no laughing matter.

Although stories of large serpents in Canadian Lakes don’t seem to be that uncommon – several years ago there were reports of a serpent in Lake Temiskaming — few creatures are as colorful as the Serpent of Lake Huron’s North Channel.

For more than 250 years the local Ojibway have claimed that the mouth of the Serpent River is the home of some giant reptile. Mrs. Louis Day, a delightful storyteller and resident of Cutler and former resident of the old village of Spragge, recalls one of the legends.It was a young boys 13th summer and according to the custom of the Ojibway people, he would now journey from his father’s home, in the old Indian Village of Spragge, to the Sacred Spot, known today as Herman’s Point on the shores of the big lake. Here the boy would fast and if the spirits were pleased a vision would come. Perhaps it would be revealed that he would someday become a medicine man or a great hunter.

His mother accompanied him to the sacred place and left him with a small three-cornered blanket that would serve as his only protection against any winds or rain.

The mother returned the following day and became very upset when the boy announced that he was ready to go home. She demanded that he stay. It was too soon, she said. Surely, she told him, the spirits wouldn’t visit after only one day.

A few days later she returned to the sacred spot. There was no sign of the boy. The blanket she had given him was hanging on a tree limb. The villagers searched the area without success. Several weeks later a group of hunters noticed a great commotion in the waters. To their amazement a great serpent rose above the waves, a giant creature with large horns. Clinging to the monster’s back was the young Indian Boy.

After that, many terrible things occurred around the settlement. Swimmers began to disappear and strange sounds were heard during the night. People began to move from Spragge village. Mrs. Day recalls that she would be awakened in the middle of the night by weird noises. Strange objects were found on her rooftop. She became concerned for the safety of her young children and in 1934 she convinced her husband that their family should move.

When asked if she could explain why these things would be happening she replied: “It’s that serpent. That place is really haunted.

Even today, there are people living near the mouth of the Serpent River who claim that somewhere along the banks of the Serpent River Harbour there is a large cave where the serpent lives.

Just another colorful legend? Perhaps. But when you manage to get some of the older people to talk about it you can see by their face that they’re not entirely sure.