- Kelly McMillan
Cryptids of Canada the True North Strong and .... Weird.
The picturesque mountains, lakes, and woods of Canada are home to a great many things. Bears, Mountain Lions, Wolves, and any assortment of other creatures. The vast amount of untouched wilderness in this great nation combined with its rich indigenous lore has made it a breeding ground for myths and legends of monsters and strange creatures abound. Of course this is not at all exclusive to Canada, we see in many North American cultures surviving tales of creatures like the Puckwudgie of the Wampanoag of Delaware, the Bunyip of Australian indigenous lore or, of course our beloved Squonk of Pennsylvania fame.
But Canada is home to a surprising number of these types of creatures. Being a paranormal researcher and Investigator for 15 years now, I was shocked when I started my foray into this seldom-explored world in my home country. The number of lake monsters at a single glance topped 20. And the number of monsters thought to be real by our indigenous cultures, even to this day was dozens. Many of which, despite living in this country my entire life, I had never heard of. In this article, I will share some of Canada's more obscure cryptozoological creatures. Sorry Sasquatch Fans, he's had enough time in the spotlight.
We'll start our journey in the easternmost provinces starting with Newfoundland and Labrador in the little town of Shearstown. This town was settled by the English, Scottish and Irish peoples in the 1600s and it seems as though some of their Western European creatures may have hitched a ride with them. Or, they were here all along. Stories of Fairies have been abound in the region for centuries and no, they're not the Tinkerbell type. In Gaelic folklore, the Fairies, or Fae, are nature spirits that are best left alone whenever possible because of their often malevolent motivations toward humanity. One such story is told by Mary Flynn who lived in Shearstown. She tells a story about how cousin, Molly was taken by the mythical fairies, the only trace left behind, was a patch of forget-me-nots that were not previously growing in the area.
THE UG WUG
In St John, New Brunswick lives another cryptid of an unusual sort which makes sense given its unusual environment. Reversing Falls is one of the only places in the world where the severe tides cause the river to literally change directional flow twice a day. These turbulent tides have carved out cave systems in the rock cliffs around St John and in these caves is said to dwell a sea monster called Ug Wug. Described as a seal-salmon hybrid, 30 meters in length. Most times, Ug Wug is seen in the waters of Reversing Falls but it has also been reported to walk up on the land. However in my personal opinion accounts of Ug Wug are dubious at best. Its name supposedly originates from the Inuit language meaning “The Friendly animal” However, the Inuit have never lived in New Brunswick, and there exists no oral history of the creature prior to 1950 when it came to light from a director of tourism for the area.
In Prince Edward Island, we see a different type of cryptid that seems like it came straight out of a Hitchcock movie. The Slaugh are a flock of blackbirds that are said to carry away human beings. Their modus operandi is to enter a person's home through an open window or to pluck someone walking alone at night. To make it even creepier, it is said that each bird is the physical manifestation of the soul of a sinner. While many of the abducted never return, it's said that some do, coming to their senses dozens of kilometers away with no idea of how they got there. It gives one pause to think that this sounds familiar with alien abduction stories and the common sightings of owls, or crows in relation to those experiences. The legend, of course, comes from old Scottish folklore which is no surprise as those of Scottish descent make up the majority of the population in PEI
For millennia, sea serpents have been sighted off of the coast of Nova Scotia. The earliest accounts of which are depicted in Mi'kmaq petroglyphs. Accounts vary in size and description, but one of the more famous ones happened in 2003, when lobster fisherman Wallace Cartwright noticed what he thought was a log out in the ocean that was about six to eight meters in length. Upon closer look though, he said that what he saw was a brown serpent with a head that was shaped somewhat like a sea turtle and its body was “About as thick around as a five gallon bucket”.
THE LOUP GAROU
In 1766 to 1767, Quebec City was being terrorized. Newspaper reports from the time tell the story that an unknown beggar had come to town only to transform into a wolf-like creature and attack unsuspecting people. The largely French population immediately came to the conclusion that this must be a Loup Garou, a type of werewolf that is cursed for any number of transgressions against man or God. The Loup Garou however, differ from your typical werewolf as they can not just take on the form of a wolf, but also an ox, pig, cat, or owl. These shape shifters are said to only be killed by hanging, beheading, or typically, a silver bullet.
THE DEVIL MONKEY
Ontario shares a cryptid with part of the NorthEastern United States. The Devil Monkey is said to be a four-to-six foot tall primate with long arms, a barrel-shaped chest, and most notably, a tail. Which sets these creatures in a category different than the Sasquatch. While usually dark brown or black in color, the Devil Monkey has also had blond or even white colors reported. Such was one case in 1992 when Ian Harper encountered a strange primate while on a bike ride in his hometown of Scugog, Ontario.While on his way home, his dog came up his driveway, barking and baring its teeth. When Ian looked behind him, he saw what he described as a “Huge white monkey with willowy arms.” The creature grunted and shambled off into the woods and they never saw it again.
The Beaver is Canada's national animal for its industrious nature but in Manitoba, there are whispers of a fearsome water rodent of enormous size. The Giant Beaver is said to stand around five feet tall on all fours, and weigh as much as an average adult male. While sightings are scant at best, we do know that the region was once home to a species of giant beaver some 10,000 years ago that matches these descriptions. However as far as we know, these animals became extinct around the same time as the Wooly Mammoth.
Unlike the Ug Wug, the Adlet is an Inuit legend. The story goes that an Inuit woman lived with her father and refused to marry. Anyone human, that is. The woman married a giant dog said to have white fur with red spots. If that wasn't gross enough, the two produced ten offspring. Five of which were dogs, the other five were Adlet. Bipedal dogs that walked upright like men. Obviously, her father was aghast at this front against nature and tried to kill the adlet. So she sent them inland where they became their own tribe. It's said that the Adlet are cannibalistic, bloodthirsty creatures that are adept at running on top of the snow. Although this is often seen as a myth, there are rumors of strange bipedal wolves running around the Arctic. Spoken in hushed tones by the locals.
On the topic of giant dog-like creatures, we have The Waheela of the NorthWest Territories. This gigantic canid makes its home in the infamous Nahanni Valley. A place that is so remote, people rarely, if ever set foot in it. The Nahanni Valley is known by another more gruesome moniker of The Valley of The Headless Men and its believed that the Waheela is the cause of it all. This creature is said to be a wolf-like creature with a long, flat head and long, bushy tail. It's said to be the size of a polar bear. It's mostly a scavenger and lives in small packs of 3 or 4. However when it does attack living prey, its said that the Waheela beheads its victims before consuming them. Such was, supposedly, the case of a handful of gold prospectors in the 1800s.
THE TURTLE LAKE MONSTER
In Saskatchewan, we find another sea monster. This one in Turtle Lake. The creature is said to be a lake monster of a length of up to 8 meters. It is said to be scaly in appearance with the face of a seahorse. Such was one account of a teacher who took his daughter out on the lake on a fishing trip when they spotted a roiling mass of coils in the water and a creature with the infamous face of a seahorse. It disappeared below the waves as the father and daughter combo raced back to shore. Natives of the area dismiss the creature as a giant sturgeon but those who have seen the Turtle Lake Monster for themselves refute these claims.
The Algonquin, Cree, and Inuit tribes all have legends about this creature and you may have heard this one before. The Wendigo is either a cryptid or an evil spirit, depending on which version of the legend you read. In Alberta, it can be both. The Wendigo exists solely to consume human flesh, and in some tellings of the story its cannibalism that turned once-human beings into these gaunt, sunken-eyed monsters. They dwell in forests and its said that they can mimic human voices, steal into your dreams, and even devour your soul. As well as your body.
Canada has a great many lake monsters, it's true. But none so famous as Ogo Pogo. Ogo makes its home in Okanagan Lake in British Columbia. The creature's history can be traced back to the indigenous Secwepeme peoples who named it Naitaka which translates roughly to “Water Demon”. It is said in their oral histories that Naitaka demanded human sacrifices and one chief who decided to defy the Water Demon's wishes found himself at the creature's mercy when it overturned his canoe.
Ogopogo eventually got its modern moniker from an old English folksong by Mark Morkin. It went like this;
His mother was an earwig,
His father was a whale;
A little bit of head
And hardly any tail—
And Ogopogo was his name.
Aside from Sasquatch, which didn't make this list, Ogopogo is probably Canada's most famous cryptid with over a hundred different sightings over the years.
These cryptids are only skimming the surface of a great many strange creatures in the Great White North and it's truly a wonder to behold people's stories of The Booger Bear, The Cabbagetown Monster, The Great Canadian Spiderbat, Or the Nuk Luk.
No, I didn't make any of those names up.
I hope you've enjoyed this article, and if you're looking for more weird stuff in Canada, head on over to the podcast that I do with my associate, Darcy called Canadian SPIRIT. You can find us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google podcasts and pretty much everywhere else.
Special thanks to Steve and Emmy for allowing us to write for the newsletter!