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The Ogopogo
by Sterling Haynes

Beware of Lake Okanagan’s sea serpent. This British Columbia native serpent is a different beastie than that described in the 1924 English music hall song Ogopogo:

“His mother was an earwig,
His father was a whale,
A little bit of head
And hardly any tail”*

The Snake of the Lake, is known to the Okanagan Indians as N’ha-a-itk. Centuries ago small animals and even fawns and a few babies were thrown in the water around caves off Rattlesnake Island.

Early white settlers placed guards around the lake to protect Canadian citizens from Ogopogo during blue moons. In the great depression new ferries were equipped with harpoons and pikes to prevent Ogopogo from boarding vessels and swallowing the crew and passengers whole!

Ogopogo is green, has the head of a horse and a prehensile jaw. In beasts 25 meters long the lower jaw becomes unhinged allowing this animal to swallow their prey whole. When moving, Ogo’s undulating humps break the surface and can be seen by those with believing eyes.

During Kelowna’s summer lake regattas, over 75 years ago, certain people saw this creature. They have banded together and have formed the “Ogopogo Serendipity Society” – [O.S.S]. Today, some city fathers are reputedly said to be secret members of the O.S.S.

There has been meticulous research done on Ogopogo. Sonar echoes show shadowy serpents and pick up hydrophonic babbles. There is a Wanted Dead or Alive Contest sponsored by the Penticton Rotary Club and the Wine Country Chamber of Commerce. The reward is two million Canadian dollars for the capture ‘dead or alive’ of Ogopogo. The successful candidates would be elected members of the B.C. Cryptozoology Club [B.C.C.C.]. Rotarians would strike gold medals for the occasion… The Order of Ogopogo – labeled O.O .  Consumerism would put this valley on the map.

Years ago the City of Kelowna constructed a float for the use in parades throughout the province. Unfortunately, Ogo was painted pink with purple polka dots. He looked very gay and the media labeled him “Homopogo.” City fathers and the Mayor had the float repainted green before any harm was done.

When I hike along Lake Okangan’s shore I visit many wineries and visit my God Bacchus in the late afternoon. In my reverie I may see an undulating green shape – could it be a dream, a fantasy, a vision of Ogopogo? Today, I’ll try another glass of the Pinot More and then ask myself –“could the father of Ogopogo really been a whale?’

[* The serpent of Lake Okanagan was named by the Vancouver Province newspaper of August 24th, 1926, page 7, after the English music hall song “Ogopogo"]