Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

As far back as 1904, sightings have been reported of a strange creature dwelling in the depths of Shuswap Lake.

The creature is known as the Shuswaggi.

The Shuswaggi has been described in various ways, ranging from a large, furry mammal resembling a bear to a lengthy, grey-black aquatic creature similar to a giant eel. Stories of Shuswaggi do share a common theme, however, revolving around boaters encountering an unknown creature.

According to Adam Benedict, cryptid researcher and author of the Pine Barrens Institute archives, he first encountered the tale of Shuswaggi while looking for obscure creature legends.

“After grabbing all my other books regarding water monsters, I started looking for both the name of the creature and the name of the lake. Slowly, I started coming across a handful of different supposed sightings over many years,” he says.

READ MORE: Do you know about the Ogopogo statue at the bottom of Okanagan Lake?

The earliest recorded encounter with the creature was from a Secwepemc First Nations hunter in 1904 who claimed to have killed and skinned a strange creature in Shuswap Lake.

George Eberhart expanded on this tale in his book, Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, saying the creature was believed to be a “Ta-zam-a,” which Eberhart says roughly translates to mean “Water Bear” in the Salish language. The hide was reportedly taken to the nearby trading post in Enderby, where it was sold for $60 (over $2,000 when adjusted for 2019 inflation). It was said to be furry, as large as a grizzly bear with 12-inch long feet resembling an aquatic mole.

While books describing the Shuswaggi suggest it stems from First Nations folklore, Neskonlith Coun. Louis Thomas says tales of lake monsters are not especially common among the Secwepemc.

“I have heard some old stories that say there are mythical creatures out there, but not many tales of lake monsters. They are not as exciting or as charming as the old coyote stories. Coyote tales are more popular with our people,” Thomas says. “My great-aunt was a good one for telling stories, and I remember her talking about some lake monsters but never this one.”

READ MORE: Sicamous site of attempt to contact aliens

The next recorded sighting was not until 1948, when a man fishing on Shuswap Lake claimed a massive creature swam under his boat, clipping the bottom and nearly capsizing it.

In 1970, a family hosting a birthday party near Shuswap Lake reported seeing a long, grey-green object moving under the lake water that appeared to move quickly before rising out of the water, turning around and heading away.

In 1984, the most well-known sighting occurred. Linda Griffiths and her children were said to be out on the lake when she reported grabbing her binoculars and watching a serpent-like creature swim in front of the boat.

While sightings have been few and far between, Benedict says a message he received in 2018 renewed his interest in the Shuswaggi.

Read More: An eye on the sky, Shuswap man spots unidentified flying objects

“What helps push the legend of Shuswaggi into the legit creature camp for me is a witness sighting I received last year,” he says. “The lake is filled with various fish, but these wouldn’t be mistaken for something reported to be upwards of 50 feet. Perhaps early accounts mistook a young moose swimming in the lake.”

British cryptozoologist Karl Shuker theorized the Shuswaggi could be a surviving zeuglodont, an aquatic dinosaur, but Benedict disagrees with this idea.

While perhaps not as well-known as the Ogopogo of Okanagan Lake, the story of the Shuswaggi does still hang on in the Shuswap region in some small ways. The Barking Dog Food Truck at the Anglemont Marina serves a massive breakfast wrap called the Shuswaggi, and the Shuswap Coffee Company carries a dark roast blend named after the creature.

“I had lived here all my life, and I had never heard of it,” says Tara Shantz of the Shuswap Coffee Company. “The girls who had the company before us named the blend, they were trying to be funny with it, like it’s this dark, mysterious blend.”

She says customers often ask about the name, and are fascinated upon hearing the tale.


 

@Jodi_Brak117
jodi.brak@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP better than municipal police forces, mayors say

West Shore municipalities funding more officers and civilians at local detachment

Increasing cloudiness with a high of 12 C for today

A look ahead at this week’s forecast

Purple Day marks long journey for Gorge resident

Legislative Assembly to recognize epilepsy on Tuesday

Stay alert for spring sweepers on Greater Victoria highways

Motorists asked to be on the lookout as road crews prepare for spring

The shores will not rock in 2019

Atomique Productions announce Rock the Shores festival will not return in 2019, future is uncertain

Mueller finds no Trump collusion, leaves obstruction open

But while Mueller fully ruled out criminal collusion, he was more circumspect on presidential obstruction of justice

Woman wants Tofino to get a nude beach

“They may enjoy a surf and then walk around naked and just be free.”

Ice climbers scale Canada’s tallest waterfall on Vancouver Island

Ice climbers Chris Jensen, Will Gadd and Peter Hoang made history

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

B.C. doctor fined $5,000 for accessing records of woman pregnant with his child

Doctor admits to accessing records of the woman carrying his child

Video service to compete with Netflix, Amazon expected from Apple on Monday

The iPhone has long been Apple’s marquee product and main money maker, but sales are starting to decline

Kootenay city councillor starts nationwide climate caucus for municipal politicians

Climate Leadership Caucus has 57 members including seven mayors

Edmonton judge to rule on whether Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

Canada’s top court ruled punishment handed Khadr for alleged acts committed in Afghanistan when he was 15 was to be a youth sentence

Most Read