Stories of lake monsters are legion in Prince Edward County. Old Indian legends and tales told by early explorers and settlers of the area tell of strange creatures swimming in Lake Ontario, and reports of monsters have continued ever since. The Prince Edward Gazette reported in 1842 that a monster had been spotted off the shore of Athol Township:
A few days ago, when two boys named McConnell were playing on the shore near Gull Pond, they discovered from behind a thicket, a huge monster which they described about the thickness of a man’s body, a head proportionately large and very glossy; the eyes were about the size of a horse’s and very bright. They ran home and told their father what they had seen. Having no gun, the man sent for John Church who had a rifle. The boys conducted them to the spot and there they saw the monster blinking in the sun, his head about four feet out of the water. They judged him to be from 30-40 feet long, dark brown in colour and a broad ring about his neck, varying in hue from the rest of the body. Mr Church alarmed him in endeavouring to get into a favourable position for a shot, and he put out into deep water and they followed him from Gull Pond to Point Petre lighthouse, about two miles, where he finally disappeared. We have the truth of this undoubted sources and we further learn that such a serpent has frequently been seen by people living along the lake shore.
In 1931 a fisherman sighted a sea serpent about three miles west of Main Duck Island. It was said to be forty feet long and 20 inches in diameter. Another lake monster was reportedly spotted in a marshy area on the lake south of South Bay. The ten foot long frog-like creature had a mouth like an alligator, huge green eyes, green mottled body, webbed feet and there were flippers close to the head, resembling a seal. Large horns extended far past its head. One man shot at it from a half-mile away, “but the bullet bounced directly back and entered the barrel of the gun,” according to the story-teller.
Story reprinted with permission of Author Janet Kellough from her book “The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County”.
This is not a “history” of Prince Edward County in the usual sense. Although many of the stories in this book are true, many others have obviously been embellished in the re-telling. They are, however, “real” stories – they have all been told, at one time or another, by people in the County. Stories have survived here where they have disappeared in other localities. Because of the County’s geographic isolation and because so many of the “old families” still live here, tales have often been passed from generation to generation.
Although I have not fabricated any details, I often found different versions of the same events. Every attempt was made to verify historical detail, but in cases where I found varying accounts, I simply chose to use the interpretation I liked best.
Thank you to all the people who told me stories …
Copyright ©1994 Janet Kellough, All rights reserved
Published by Kellough Productions, Picton, Ontario 1994