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

Disturbing find: Shuswap family seeking Christmas tree locates several animal carcasses

Black bear, a coyote and five deer found dumped in gravel pit west of Salmon Arm

RCMP uncover meth in arrest of Sicamous woman linked to alleged pellet gun shooting

Police say methamphetamine and other drugs found in car driven by suspect

Chase clinic welcomes two doctors, new patients must go on wait list

Addition of doctors in January brings clinic back to a full complement

Snowfall warning issued for Coquihalla Highway

Up to 25 cm of snow is expected to fall in the region by Thursday

Outdoor ice rink reopening in North Shuswap

Farrells Field in Celista will be ready for skaters this weekend

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

Vandalism closes public washrooms in Penticton’s Okanagan Lake Park indefinitely

A post by the city’s Facebook said the damage is ‘quite extensive’

Pawsative Pups: Help your dog love their crate

Lisa Davies is a new columnist for Black Press who writes about dog training

Spark Joy: The art of giving and receiving

Barb and Wendy at Simply Spark Joy help you to create a clutter free home on the Black Press Media

Coldstream surf shop welcomes winter with paddle

Winter Chill event Saturday, Dec. 21, on Kal Lake is ‘food’-raiser for food bank

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

Most Read