Monster eels, giant snakes, dragons and huge fish; every kind of scary sea creature has been spotted in the eastern basin of Lake Ontario.
in 1805 four local men were fishing between Kingston and Black Lake, now in New York State, when they saw an overturned rowboat. As they neared the boat it started coming towards them. They realized this was a giant snake and they rowed for their lives to the shallow waters along the shore where the snake patrolled the waters daring them to go out again. The men said the snake was 150 feet long with eyes the size of pint basins and a mouth ‘frightfully large and aspect terrible”, and it’s body as big around as a barrel.
Algonquin and Iroquois people told of a giant race of serpents or dragons in Lake Ontario. French explorers such as Pierre Radisson noted the presence of giant snake-like creatures in his diary.
In 1835 the crew of the Polyphemus reported seeing an eighty-foot snake in the waters off Kingston. In September 1881 a twenty-foot creature was spotted in the Rideau Canal by the crew and passengers of the steamer Gypsy.
The one-eyed “Kingstie” seen numerous times by Indians, early explorers and pioneers, basking off Snake and Wolfe Islands, was last seen in 1935.
So what is the explanation—too much ale? Eels migrating from the Atlantic and growing remarkably? Giant hoaxes? Let’s take a look at the last explanation.
In 1934 near Kingston, a quiet, calm evening on Cartwright Bay was shattered by screams of terrified bathers. A strange creature came out of the depths and was spotted for several weeks. Finally a group of adventurers went to do battle in a small boat. The creature reared its ugly head and one man with a rifle tried to shoot it but he forgot to bring ammunition. So the group rammed the creature with their boat and declared it to be dead. Unfortunately, its demise was miscalculated as it appeared again for most of that summer.
Thirty years later, three men who were at school in Kingston at the time confessed that they had made the monster with barrels filled with sealed empty bottles anchored to the lake bottom. They raised and lowered the head with a smaller rope. Perhaps Frosh Week could learn a thing or two from the past.