A Case of Mistaken Identity

In my first book, I recounted some lake monster reports in which I believed a wayward seal had been mistaken for a monster. Most notably, “Whitey,” the White River Monster and the Igopogo fell into this category. The following newspaper clipping, which appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times July 23, 1889, issue, confirms that seals and sea lions do indeed masquerade as lake monsters from time to time.

Asheville Citizen-Times July 23, 1889

The Following is an excerpt from my book:

One of the most enigmatic lake monsters from North America is the Igopogo, a cryptid living in Lake Simcoe. The Igopogo, also known as “Kempenfelt Kelly,” is one of the most unusual lake monsters in all of Canada. This creature is very strange even by lake monster standards. Known as “Mishepeshu” to the Huron people, who were indigenous to the area, this frightening creature was thought to be a murderous spirit, able to devour people if angered.1

The Huron described the Mishepeshu as having a dogface; curved horns protruding from its head; and a slender tail.2 Interestingly, modern accounts also mention the creature as having a dog-like face.3 Moreover, the creature is described as mammalian in appearance with a “stove-pipe” neck.4 The Igopogo is said to be about twelve feet long.

It has also been mentioned that at times the creature seems to bathe in the sun.5 Just when it seems as if the monster in Lake Simcoe is some sort of mammal, other reports of the creature(s) describe it as being snake-like, and around 30 feet long!6

Lake Simcoe

Lake Simcoe is located in Canada’s Ontario province and is about an hour drive from Toronto. Modern-day Lake Simcoe is merely a remnant of a once giant, prehistoric lake.7 The ancient lake, known as Lake Algonquin, existed around the time of the last ice age.

Lake Simcoe is oval-shaped and encompasses about 279 square miles. It has about 150 miles of shoreline and sits at an elevation of 719 feet. The lake measures roughly 19 miles by 16 miles, and the average depth is 49 feet. The maximum depth of Lake Simcoe is reached near the mouth of Kempenfelt Bay, where a depth of 135 feet is reached.8


The first known written account of the Igopogo dates back to 1827 when David Soules reported seeing it. He described the Igopogo as “ugly looking,” long, and having appendages that resembled fins.9

In 1881 the creature was spotted again. It was described as being 30 feet long, with four fins, and serpent-like in appearance.10

It seems as if modern accounts began in 1963 with a Globe and Mail report on the beast, although the monster may have also been spotted in 1952.11 The Globe and Mail story discussed an encounter that a fishing guide had with the beast. The guide described the creature as having a stove-pipe neck and a face like that of a boxer dog.

Several eyewitnesses saw a charcoal-colored, serpentine creature 30-70 feet in length in 1963. Reverend L.B. Williams was among the witnesses. In addition to its physical appearance, the eyewitnesses claimed that they saw the creature undulating in the water.12

More convincing evidence for the possibility of a large, serpent-like creature was obtained in 1983. On June 13, W.W. Skrpetz, a sonar operator with Lefroy’s Government Dock and Marina, captured intriguing imagery while performing a scan of the lake. The sonar scan revealed a long, snake-like creature in the water.13

During the 1980s, cryptozoologist and president of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, John Kirk, decided to investigate Lake Simcoe.14 After a thorough investigation where he circled the entire lake and the outlying areas of a neighboring lake, he concluded that if there had been a creature in the lake, it had died or migrated somewhere else.15 Kirk’s opinion would change in 1991 however, when he would view an extraordinary encounter caught on video tape.

The video footage that Kirk saw was taken on the lake in 1991 by spectators of hydroplane racing trial runs. The footage shows a racer making repairs to his boat while out on the lake. A disturbance is noticed directly in front of his boat as a large creature comes to the surface. The creature stared at the boater momentarily and dove back into the water.16

After viewing this footage, Kirk became convinced that a seal was behind this monster encounter. Fellow cryptozoologist Don Hepworth, who sent to footage to Kirk, also believed the video showed a seal. Hepworth had read of reports…Read the rest.

  1. “Lake Simcoe Monster, Igopogo.” Cryptozoo-oscity. July 29, 2009. Accessed January 16, 2015. http://www.cryptozoo-oscity.blogspot.com/2009/07/lake-simcoe-monsterigopogo.htm.
  2. Cryptozoo-oscity, “Lake Simcoe Monster, Igopogo.”
  3. “Igopogo: (Canada).” American Monsters. November 12, 2010. Accessed January 3, 2015. http://www.americanmonsters.com/site/2010/11/igopogo-canada/
  4. American Monsters, “Igopogo: (Canada).”
  5. “Igopogo (Lake Simcoe).” BCSCC.ca. December 15, 2014. Accessed January 16, 2015. http://www.bcscc.ca/blog/?p=50.
  6. American Monsters, “Igopogo: (Canada).”
  7. Ibid.
  8. “Lake Simcoe Watershed.” Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority. Accessed January 5, 2015. http://www.lsrca.on.ca/about/watershed.php.
  9. Cryptozoo-oscity, “Lake Simcoe Monster, Igopogo.”
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. American Monsters, “Igopogo: (Canada).”
  13. Ibid.
  14. BCSCC, “Igopogo (Lake Simcoe).”
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.

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