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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Happy hour, dance party fundraiser for Central Okanagan Food Bank

Local musicians perform a virtual concert on June 5

Central Okanagan school buses to remain parked through the summer

The board of education made the decision to nix bus services on Wednesday

Booze on Kelowna beaches? Mayor says ‘not at the moment’

Mayor Colin Basran says alcohol in public spaces is not on council’s radar right now — but that could change

Motor trike crashes into hole in Ellison area

A man was taken to hospital after crashing his trike on Anderson Road

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Flood watch for Salmon River upgraded as high temperatures, rain forecast

Shuswap Emergency Program warns residents to prepare now for possible extreme flooding

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

RCMP request public’s help in locating missing Salmon Arm man

Ken Derkach is a familiar face to many, one of the city’s residents who is without a home

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

VIDEO: Police look for suspect seen tripping elderly woman in Burnaby

The elderly woman was walking near the SkyTrain station when she was randomly tripped

Drunk man on a dirt bike and prohibited drivers without insurance keep Shuswap RCMP busy

Other calls resulted in excessive speed tickets and the arrests of two prohibited drivers

Summerland amends procedure for virtual council meetings, adding transparency

During COVID-19 pandemic, meetings have been held using online technology

Most Read