Posted By By Brian Kelly, The Sault Star
Andrea Gutsche doesn’t have to rent a movie if she wants to get spooked about scary-looking monsters on the Great Lakes.
The Toronto-based author regularly came across accounts of sea serpents when researching titles such as The North Channel and St. Mary’s River: A Guide to the History and Superior: Under the Shadow of the Gods.
“There’s definitely sightings and mythology around this,” she said in a telephone interview.
“It’s very intriguing, isn’t it, when you get that many sightings? Who knows where the truth lies in it all. Something definitely has been seen.”
If the thought of the Loch Ness monster stalking Lake Superior doesn’t give you the willies, maybe these stories of strange sightings dating back more than 200 years can send a shiver up your spine.
• The crew of a schooner on Lake Erie saw a sea serpent about 50 feet in length battling with another creature in 1792;
• Eight voyageurs signed an affidavit in the early 1800s declaring they saw a creature raise its head 10 feet out of the water in Lake ONtario. Covered in black scales, the beast had a “tremendous head” similar to a snake.
In 1821, the Boston Gazette offered $10,000 for anyone who caught the sea serpent;
• Two men saw a 15-foot water snake near Sugar Island in 1896. They returned to shore to get a rifle and shot it. The snake raised its head several feet out of the water. It fell on to its side and disappeared.
The description the pair gave matches Mishebeshu, a creature depicted in pictographics at Lake Superior Provincial Park.
In his book, The Wolf’s Head: Writing Lake Superior, Peter Unwin says Mishebeshu calls the island of Michipicoten and the depths of Lake Superior home;
• A dozen people on the City of Detroit III steamer report seeing a 60-foot sea serpent in Georgian Bay in 1947.
While Gutsche isn’t so sure how much to believe, she still expects a kernel of truth to these heart-racing tales.
“There’s one thing I’ve learned from doing so many of these books that folklore is usually history plus time,” she said.
“When you’ve got folklore somewhere in there is a thread of truth that has been distorted through time. How accurate any of these stories are, who knows?
But somewhere in there, there’s just been too many sightings right up to 1946 for there not to be.”
Gutsche’s initial enthusiasm to rent Loch Ness Terror was tempered when she learned the horror movie was shot in British Columbia instead of Lake Superior.
“Oh my God, that’s hilarious,” she said.
“The real thing is so much more beautiful. I think Lake Superior is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Man, that was a mistake.”
Still, she’s not surprised the mystery surrounding the Loch Ness monster has helped spur another film following in the wake of Beneath Loch Ness (2002), Incident at Loch Ness (2004) and The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007).
“People love monsters,” she said.
“We’re fascinated by this. Maybe if we would have stopped shooting the poor thing maybe we’d actually know if it existed or not.”
On the web: www.lynximages.com
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