Saturday, 18 July 2009

Ponik the monster of Lake Pohenegamook

Located in eastern Quebec, just a few miles from the Maine border, is a freshwater lake called Lake Pohenegamook. The name of the lake has a Native American origin, which is said to translate as : "Rest and wintering, sheltered from the Northern winds."

The water in the lake is laden with rust, from the surrounding mountains which are rich in iron and is about 135 feet deep. Some divers looking for a body said it was frightening in the water, being so dark. (reminiscent of Loch Ness with it’s dark peat filled waters) There has been about 1000 sightings recorded of something large in the Lake. The reports describe a creature of between 35 feet and 60 feet long with two or three humps, flippers, a neck like a barrel, and a head like a horse. The creature also has a "saw-tooth" crest along the spine from the back of the head down to the tail. The creature is usually seen on the surface of the water for a few seconds, and then it disappears and leaves a V-shaped wake .

White men didn't settle near Lake Pohenegamook until the 1800's. The local indigenous population told them tales of "the Great Beast" that inhabited the lake that had the body of a great serpent. The first recorded sighting of the monster by a white settler appears to be in 1873.A lumberjack named Louis Berube claims he sighted " a huge fish" cavorting in the water. The creature was also seen shortly thereafter by Benoit Levasseur, one of the pioneers of the first settlement on the lake. He saw a creature between 25-30 feet long plunge once, resurface, and then plunge down into the water again.

Father Leopold Plante, saw the creature in 1957 while fishing near his church at St. Eleuthere. "The lake was as calm as a mirror." he explains, "You could see a toothpick floating. All of a sudden, about a thousand feet from shore, I saw this big, black thing floating. It was like two pieces, with a depression in the middle. Then as I was pulling my line in, it went swoosh under the water and it was gone."

The creature, nicknamed Ponik began to be seen more frequently, when a new road was opened around the lake. (another similarity to Loch Ness, sightings escalated after 1933 when the road was built along the side of the Loch.)

Father Calixte Berube, saw the creature only a few years ago, and it was witnessed by fifteen other people. "It was about 4 o'clock in the afternoon," he recounts, "...we had a magnificent view of the lake. We saw the back with the dorsal fin. It frolicked like a fish, and shimmered in the sun. It disappeared and reappeared further along; one moment it began to turn around and around as if it were amusing itself. There wasn't time to take photographs. People stopped on the road to watch."

The was a photo taken on June 16, 1981 by Mrs. Sylvie Theriault-Lavoie, who watched the extensive wake of something very large just below the surface.. Whatever was making the wake was "moving at a good speed." she stated but I have not been able to locate a copy of the photo. There have been a few photos over the years but none show anything of significance. (again like Loch Ness)

There have been long periods of inactivity at Lake Pohenegamook, but during this time some sightings have taken place in nearby Lake Temiscouata. This has lead to speculation that a subterranean cavern or river connects the two lakes underneath the Mountain of the Cross.

I have translated the written testimony below but my French is rusty so it may not make complete sense:

Eye witness testimony

In the middle of July 1944, I was ten years and I helped my father to make hay on our lots by the lake. Three or four weeks per year we lived in a small log cabin camp on Lake Pohénégamook for the stages of agricultural work. . Our hay rake had large wheels of wood that dried during the year and before the work should be put in water to make buckles hubs so they do not fall apart. To do this, we push the instrument into the lake to a few hundred feet of the strike. As with every morning, early, I would bathe and swim in the lake, while my father was treating and preparing horses. That day, behind me, I heard a noise of metal and a strong sound in water. Its long tail, the Beast hit the teeth of the rake. I was terrified, I screamed for help and stood dead still. Then the gigantic animal raised its trunk topped by a horse's head and looked at me a moment that seemed an eternity. Then slowly, he made a tour of the instrument, slipped into a wave and disappeared under water. Leaving the lake, I went to Papa tell the extraordinary scene that I had witnessed, he refused to believe me, but as I was crying and shaking with fear, he accompanies me to rake and found the damage caused by the Beast He realized that only an unusual force could have occurred in the teeth of twisting steel.. The next day, after much thought, I suggested not to tell anyone.

This meeting haunted my nights for a few months, until in an encyclopedia, I discovered marine mammals and dinosaurs with little in the form of the beautiful beast that I saw in this beautiful day of July 1944. And ever thereafter, I agreed to him being called "monster of Lake Pohénégamook. : Later, as an adult, several issues have preoccupied my mind: What was this animal? Why blame the instrument plowing why he looked at me without m'agresse?? Why did I ever heard at that time? That's the first time I saw the Beast of the lake ....

Grand rake: tillage instrument coupled to a horse used to collect the hay cut and put into windrows.

Récit de R. Récit R. Nadeau de Rivière-du-Loup Nadeau Rivière-du-Loup

An article (from

- For centuries people in Scotland have talked about a monster lurking in Loch Ness, called "Nessy." It turns out, just a few hours away from Bangor there is talk of a similar creature named "Ponik." Natives of the Canadian border town of Pohenegamook first reported seeing a huge creature in the lake in 1873. Some people even feared the waters. Guy Leblanc is the mayor of Pohenegamook. He, like everyone else in this modest town of 3,000, has heard the tales of the monster of the lake. “Prehistoric monster, stuff like that or it was walking on the beach and flames were coming out of it’s mouth, that’s kind of the folklure side of the legend,” said Leblanc. Leblanc is one of several people who claim to have laid eyes on the creature. He says he saw Ponik in 1990, when he had taken some friends for a ride on his boat. “I saw that kind of a wave it was kind of special, cause no boat was on the water except mine,” said Leblanc. “We saw a big big fish beside my boat. He was swimming. And he was very nice. He swam about ten seconds for us and that was incredible.” Leblanc thinks what he saw was a giant sturgeon. Word of his sighting spread fast, and soon others were coming forward claiming to have seen Ponik. “That’s why that legend never stops,” said Leblanc. “Always somebody every year saw something.” While some people describe seeing a giant fish, others have reported seeing a more serpent like creature with a snake like body, humps, flippers and a horse like head. Still, there are those who think the legendary Ponik is just that a legend. While many people claim to have caught a glimpse of the creature, no one has captured it’s image. In 1997, an area business even offered a half a million dollars to anyone who could get a picture of Ponik. Despite that, Ponik has it’s own festival. And most people agree that the mystery makes for good tourism business. Leblanc hopes Ponik lives in this lake as long as the legend has. “We want him alive so the legend can carry on,” said Leblanc. ~ by Heather Seavey, Managing Editor, “Lake Monster Legend Lives On In Northern Maine,”

So monster or large fish ? Who knows but an intriguing tale never the less and one that has strange parallels with Loch Ness ,a similar lake. Maybe speculation that these lakes all house some hybrid creatures is right or maybe it is just that the size of the lake allows something to grow to enormous size . I love these Lake Monster stories and always hope one day some undeniable evidence will be produced to show something large and unidentified is out there in the waters.

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