SERPENT RIVER home of giant reptile: OJIBWAY

By TOM HADDOW -Standard staff writer

The old man’s voice turned quite serious as he told me the story.

“…And so suddenly, about half mile from shore, the boat started to rock. We held onto the sides….    The water beside the boat began to boil as if something was trying to get to the surface.”
The Serpent?

The 65-year old resident of Serpent River shrugged his shoulders.  It was clear that he had asked himself the same question many times in the five years that followed his experience.
For him it was no laughing matter.

 

Although stories of large serpents in Canadian Lakes are not all that unusual – several years ago there were reports of a serpent in Lake Temiskaming — few creatures are as colorful as the Serpent of the North Channel. 

GIANT REPTILE

The Ojibway have claimed for more than 250 years that the mouth of the Serpent River is the home of some giant reptile, Mrs. Louis Day, a delightful storyteller and resident of Cutler and former resident of the old village of Spragge, recalls one of the legends.

It was the boy’s 13th summer.

According to the custom of the Ojibway people, he would now journey from his father’s home, in the old Indian Village of Spragge, to the Sacred Spot, known to the white men as Herman’s Point on the shores of Lake Huron.  Here the boy would fast and if the spirits were pleased he would be rewarded with a vision.  Perhaps the spirits would reveal that he was to become a medicine man or a great hunter.

His mother accompanied him to the sacred place and left him with a small three-cornered blanket that would serve as his only protection against winds and rain.  The mother returned the following day and became very upset when the boy announced that he was ready to go home.  She demanded that he stay.

SPIRITS

Surely, she told him, the spirits wouldn’t visit him after only one day.

A few days later she returned to the sacred spot.  There was no sign of the youth.  The blanket she had given him was hanging on a tree limb.  The villagers searched the area without success.  Several weeks later a group of hunters noticed a great commotion in the waters.  To their amazement a great serpent rose above the waves, a giant creature with large horns.  Clinging to the monster’s back was the young Indian Boy.  After that, many terrible things occurred around the settlement.  Swimmers began to disappear and strange sounds were heard during the night.  People began to move from Spragge village.
Mrs. Day recalls that she would be awakened in the middle of the night by weird noises. Strange objects were found on her rooftop.  She became concerned for the safety of her young children and in 1934 she convinced her husband that the family should move.

When asked if she could explain why these things would be happening she replied: “It’s that serpent …… that place …… is …… really haunted…. the boy was angry with the Indian people because he was Indian and his mother left him alone at that place.”

There are people living near the mouth of the Serpent River, who claim that somewhere along the banks of the Serpent River Harbour there is a large cave where the serpent lives.

Just another legend?  Perhaps.  But when you are fortunate enough to get some of the older people to talk about it you can see by their face that they’re not entirely convinced.