Photo by Joel Barter– Bury, Quebec–“When I arrived 15 deer were there but by the time I took the photo they were on the run. I took quite a few shots and once I looked at them. This was definitely my favorite. I was shooting up the hill just trying to get the silhouette’s.”
Tom Standish posted this photo above on the People of the Eastern Townships ll on Facebook and said:
“Kind of curious about this photo. Can you explain how this took place?”
Joel Barter had posted this photo online and it had caught my eye right away the first time I saw it. What was that creature on the far left?
Was it? Could it be?
I asked Joel where he took it and he said Brookbury, Bury, Quebec, and he too had wondered why the ears were so big on that curious animal. That’s the mystery he said– but to the ex Eastern Townships ‘pat’ now living in Lanark County, Ontario I knew immediately what is.
I am not a zoologist, and I know kangaroos don’t live in Ontario or Quebec – but, in 1974 a kangaroo had allegedly been spotted in the Lanark County area. The natural resources officials were at a loss for words when something similar to the Australian hopper had been spotted hoofing it through the outback near Watson’s Corners about 60 miles from Ottawa.
One of the local farmers, Herb Butt, who had spotted the critter, said it was about 4 feet tall with a small face and large round eyes. It had two long ears, a small nose and it moved on the back of its feet. He said he had seen the animal several times late in the fall and again when cutting Christmas trees. Of course a few of his neighbours thought he was crazy but Natural Resource Conservation officers thought he might have been right. Actually, there were no jokes coming from the professional wildlife men.
Bruce Turner, predator control officer, said the tracks were too old for a full analysis, but theorized they might have belonged to a large jack rabbit or a three-legged coyote. A three-legged coyote? What on earth were they drinking to come to that fact?
Of course folks said there just might have been a chance that a kangaroo or its bush cousin, the wallaby, might be loose in Lanark County. Mr. Butt was certain it was not a deer, as he had hunted them for over 40 years, and he ought to know one when he sees one he said. After his interview, the story gained a life of its own in all of Eastern Ontario.
In 1980 the kangaroo was spotted once again by Brenda Johnson. Brenda was driving towards the village of Lanark when she thought she spotted a hitchhiker. It wasn’t– it was an animal with two legs. As her car approached “the thing with the two legs” hopped across the road and jumped the fence. She wondered if it had been a deformed deer whose legs had been shot off by hunters.
Local history has records of a game farm at the turn of the century in that area and it had kangaroos. Or–was this animal from a former Frontenac County farm whose owner had imported a few kangaroos and they all escaped.
Since Butt’s now infamous phrase, “I seen what I seen”, Watson’s Corners, Ontario has embraced the unusual title of kangaroo capital on road signs and event advertisements. Look at the photo closely above.
Is this what Joel Barter photographed that one dark evening in Brookbury? You tell me. Is that why no one has seen this creature ever again in Lanark County? Did it just get fed up and move his family lock stock and barrel to the Eastern Townships?
They say the traditional method of catching jackalopes is to lure them with whiskey, since they are extremely fond of this drink. Once intoxicated, the animal becomes slower and easier to hunt. Too bad photographer Joel Barter didn’t have a flask that night. He would have become the National Geographic Photographer of the year with that shot. We might never know what that animal was in Joel Barter’s photo — but the story about the kangaroo in Watson’s Corners is true. Their move to Quebec? Not so sure!
Photo is of the Texas Jackalope not to be confused with the unseen Lanark County one.
Wesley Parsons I spent a lot of time in Watsons Corners as a young lad – and this story was well known, I spent many car rides looking out the windows on those backwoods for any sign of a Roo. From what I recall – there were at least two farmers that had been known to bring in foreign animals without a clue how to keep them contained and the animals usually wandered off.
I remember one old guy wanted his own Buffalo so he bought one and had it delivered. The next day the Buffalo headed west and just walked through the fencing of every farm in it’s path for several miles – a buffalo will push a fence down and keep going – a cow will just turn and head another direction.
Things like that are not uncommon – just last week someones peacocks got loose in Almonte – they’re native to India but it’s not uncommon to see them on a farm in Ontario. Kangaroos have the ability to acclimatize as well – lots of places in Australia get snow – they develop a heavier coat and they graze eat like deer so it’s possible for them to survive through our winters…I never saw any in Watsons Corners myself but many claim that they did.
Kerith Bellefeuille I’m originally from that general area and also remember the stories. My father swore he saw the famous jackelope. However I feel the need to state he was on his way to the Windsong hotel with family so his ability to recall those events may be questionable due to previous bevies. Lol
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun Screamin’ Mamas (USA) and The Sherbrooke Record