USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘ogopogo’
general
Legends

Lake Kelowna and The Ogopogo

Collector: Can you tell me about the Ogopogo?

HK: Well, at the like I visit in the summer, Lake Kelowna, there is a legend that a sea serpent just like the Lochness monster lives in the lake there. 

Collector: What is the Ogopogo like?

HK: It’s supposedly like huge green sea serpent that lives at the bottom of the lake. It’s pretty much just like the Loch

Ness Monster but the Canadian version. 

Collector: Is this a common legend there?

HK: Yeah everyone that goes to Kelowna or lives there knows all about the Ogopogo.

Collector: Do you believe that this Ogopogo actually is real and lives in the lake? Do the people of Kelowna believe in the Ogopogo? 

 HK: I don’t believe it anymore but as a young child I was very scared of it and wouldn’t ever want to go into the water. Yeah, a lot of people do believe in it people have claimed to see it and it is a pretty large fixture in the community. There are even signs referencing it and statues of the Ogopogo. 

Collector: When were you first introduced to this legend and how was it presented to you?

HK: The first time I heard of the Ogopogo was one summer when I first visited the lake with my parents and grandparents when I was seven years old. My grandfather was telling me and my sister stories by the fire one night. He told us how he had been coming to the Lake Kelowna since he was a kid and the legend had always been around. He said that the serpent would come out of the water every few years and lived at the bottom of the lake feeding on the deep swimmers and fish. After hearing that story for him I began to see and hear references of the Ogopogo all over town. I really wish he didn’t tell us because, me and my sister were scared of the lake for years after, even though we would have heard about it somewhere else eventually. 

Collector: How has your understanding and belief in the legend changed over time?

HK: I just don’t really believe it in anymore. I did as a kid and a lot of kids there do, but as I’ve gotten older and never have actually seen it I kinda just stopped worrying about it or believing it. Also, since its kinda a playful part of the community like the statues and signs around town, it just seems more like a spooky story to have fun with rather than anything real. 

Context: My informant is an eighteen-year-old freshman student at USC. He was born and raised solely in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada until age fifteen then moved to Palm Desert, California. Even since living in California, my informant has still spent around a month every summer at Lake Kelowna. His performance of explaining this legend to me was done at the Sigma Chi fraternity house at USC. 

Analysis: I thought this legend of the Ogopogo to be a very fascinating one. It strikes me as peculiar and interesting that even though it is very similar to the legend of the Lochness Monster, that I had never heard of it even though Lake Kelowna is much closer to America and where I have spent my life. I also find it fascinating that the legend seems to be such a cultural characteristic of Lake Kelowna. Not only is it just something everyone seems to be aware of there,0 but they market it and have statues of it.

general
Legends
Narrative

Ogopogo Lake Monster

Context: The informant is a Canadian-American who has family from the regions surrounding the Okanogan lake, reportedly the home to the “Ogopogo,” a monster treading the waters.

[Speaking face to face]

“So it’s like… Ogopogo, and it lives in… yeah I think it’s the Okanoga. But, um, yeah right so Ogopogo is basically Lochness Monster for Canada and it says like… it’s to live in Okanogan Lake in British Columbia. And it was, according to Wikipedia, it was allegedly seen by the first nation peoples in the 19th century. Um… so it was like… as far as Canadian folklore goes, it kind of all I know.”

KA: How did you hear about that?

“My mom, I think, yeah. Um… but like, everyone knows about Ogopogo in my family, ’cause like, most of my family is from British Columbia. I mean, the Okanogan- like my family lives in the Okanogan, so wait… where is Okanogan Lake because I might’ve actually been there. Oh right, I’m actually closer to this lore than I thought. Um, my aunt lives in Colona, and it’s IN Colona, where the Okanogan Lake is. It’s a very big lake, but… yeah. I think even if you go to the… I think there’s like some mini golf type thing there in Colona, and they have like, an Ogopogo monster… like… in the place. It’s like a family fun center”

Introduced: The informant knows of the legend due to it being socially constructed around them, having family from British Columbia. It was primarily introduced through Informant, (LG)’s mother.

Analysis & Interpretation: The Ogopogo is clearly comparable to the infamous Loch Ness Monster of Scottish folklore. I find it interesting how though it is perceived as such a prevalent part of Scottish culture and identity, particularly regarding inhabitants of areas directly surrounding Loch Ness, it is such an internationally recognized legend. As someone from the U.S., I grew up hearing of Loch Ness and not necessarily attributing that to a specific region; Essentially, anywhere you went with a body of water could potentially be home the infamous Nessie. I’ve found that many children may tend to generalize it and attribute it to their own location. But beyond this, the Ogopogo, very far from reported Loch Ness Monster (Nessie) sitings, has exemplified the globalization of a multi-version mysterious lake creature.

 

For similar renditions of the hidden lake monster tale in other regions, refer to the Scottish based “Loch Ness Monster” legend at:

History.com. (2019). Loch Ness Monster [Video file] https://www.history.com/topics/folklore/loch-ness-monster-video

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.

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