USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Loch Ness Monster’
Legends
Narrative

The Ogopogo

The informant is my mother, who was born and raised in North Vancouver, Canada. She has two older brothers, and both of her parents immigrated from the United Kingdom when they were adults. She worked in accounting until she retired at the age of 50. She is widowed and has two children: myself and my brother, who has Cerebral Palsy.

The Ogopogo is a legendary creature, native to British Columbia in Canada.

“We have Ogopogo. Ogopogo is in, uh, um…the interior [of the province]. In Shuswap Lake, no? Is it Shuswap? ….Yeah.

And it’s been photographed and it’s like a big long snake, it’s similar to the Loch Ness monster in Scotland. And there’s rumors that there’s Ogopogo, who is exists similar to the Loch Ness monster underwater, a big huge snake, and it’s been photographed several times.

I don’t believe any of these urban legends, but they do exist. Whenever we went up to Lake Okanagan in the summertime, to go camping, that’s—everyone would talk about the fact that it had the Loch Ness—uh, the Ogopogo. I think it’s Okanagan Lake, actually. Not, yeah it’s Okanagan Lake.”

Analysis:

The Ogopogo does bear a striking resemblance to the Loch Ness monster; it was interesting that the informant’s descriptions often relied on explaining how the Ogopogo and the Loch Ness monster were similar. As far as this informant knew, the primary defining characteristic of the Ogopogo is its location in British Columbia. The informant was not too familiar with the legend, so I would be interested to hear more about the Ogopogo from an informant from that part of British Columbia, who would probably have heard more about the creature itself and how people engage with this legend.

 

Folk Beliefs
Legends

The Ogo Pogo

*Note: The informant, Kate, is my mother’s girlfriend. She grew up in Canada but is of Scottish heritage. She now lives in the Bay Area. Here, she describes a legendary creature said to live in Okanagan Lake in British Columbia.

INFORMANT: “Ogopogo is a creature that I learned about when we moved from Saskatchewan to Alberta in 1971. He resides in the neighboring province, British Columbia. People always talked about him in the same kind of conversation as the Loch Ness Monster – he was like our Loch Ness Monster. He lives in Okanagan Lake. There were sightings and newspaper stories and he was all over the lore of Western Canada. He was actually a creature of the Salish nation, a figure of western Canada’s aboriginal peoples. There was a sighting of him sometime in the late 60s, early 70s, and he was in the news a lot then. As kids we always talked about wanting to go and camp at the lake and see him.”

COLLECTOR (myself): “What’s he supposed to look like? Do you remember who first told you about him?”

INFORMANT: “He’s a greenish serpent. I think it was my Edmonton friends who first told me about him. I was 10 when we moved to Alberta and when he came into my consciousness, and by then all my friends already had a deeper relationship with him. People would go to British Columbia for holidays and talk about hoping to see him. He was this kind of mythical creature in my mind because my family didn’t go on vacation there so he became bigger in my mind. He was an aspiration for me from the time I was about 10 until I was in my teens. I wanted to see him and know what they were talking about.”

COLLECTOR (myself): “So would you say you believe in him? Like, personally?”

INFORMANT: “I don’t know if I believed in him or didn’t believe in him, same as the Sasquatch or any other mythical land creatures that appear from time to time. The Sasquatch was also a big idea in our minds. Even more awesome in some ways, because you might actually come across him in the woods! Now, naturally I’m skeptical of Ogopogo and Sasquatch and all that. But back then? It was definitely a possibility.”

 

The Ogopogo, as Kate points out, is essentially a variant of the Loch Ness Monster legend, the Canadian oicotype. People are fascinated by the idea of creatures they’ve never seen before, especially creatures hiding right in your own backyard. Bodies of water are also great sources of mystery because you can’t just swim down to the bottom and see what’s down there. The Ogopogo story is so ingrained in Canadian culture that just becoming acquainted with the story made Kate feel more at home in her community after she moved. People bond over shared beliefs, so a childlike excitement over the possibility of there being a great beast right beneath our very noses is a great way to bring people together and enrich the lore and culture of a certain place or people.

 

ANNOTATION: The Ogopogo is one of Canada’s most popular and enduring legends, so it has spawned a number of books and reports, including Arlene Gaal’s 2001 book In Search of Ogopogo: Sacred Creature of the Okanagan Waters.

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends

The Loch Ness monster!

“The Loch Ness monster! He’s the creature that lives in the depths of Loch Ness, Scotland. Uh, we think we saw him when we were young. Um, and it’s really and it’s in a loch, and it’s really deep, and it’s um, hazy and fuzzy and stuff, so it seems like there’s creatures all around, and they saw that her name is Nessie.”

 

The informant is an American woman, born in California. She grew up there for the first 10 years of her life, then moved to Belgium when her father was stationed there, and stayed there for 6th through 8th grade. She stayed in an American neighborhood, but there was still interactions with European culture, and her family would take frequent trips to the nearby countries.

 

The story was provided after asking after urban legends that the informant believed in, or has perhaps even encountered at some point in her life.

 

The Loch Ness monster is one of the more infamous legends known internationally, comparable to the Chupacabra or the Yeti. Most people know at least of the monster, that some serpent, dinosaur-like creature who lives in a very deep, very murky lake in Scotland. Commonly referred to as “Nessie,” she is Scotland’s national urban legend. There are festivals related to the monster, t-shirts and knickknacks for the tourists who come trying to see the monster. The Scottish are very defensive of Nessie and a large percentage of the population believes that she exists.

There are also those who kind of believe in the legend, but with a twist. She is a common source of conspiracy theories. mostly that the government is testing submarines in the lake or something similar. For them, this is a more believable explanation than a primordial monster. Regardless of what the creature actually is, many people believe that something exists beneath the waters of Loch Ness.

The informant is one such person. She likely had heard stories about the monster when she was growing up, and when she went to the lake in Scotland, she was looking for the creature. So, whenever she saw something even vaguely resembling the monster, she was convinced that that is what she was seeing. Or she did see the creature. That’s the thing about urban legends—they might very well be true. As the informant says, the lake is very murky. It is located deep within the mountains of Scotland, a place that seems magical, where everything could be possible. There could be all sorts of wonderful creatures hidden in that lake. It is certainly possible that Nessie exists.

 

For another version of this story, please see: “Legend of Nessie.” The Ultimate Loch Ness Monster Site. Web. 30 April 2015. <http://www.nessie.co.uk.>

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