Lake Temiskaming Mugwump- fish or something else?
The first published story of it appears to be by the then mayor of New Liskeard Jack Dent. In an April 20, 1979 he wrote an article in The North Bay Nugget newspaper in which he discussed the creature. According to Mayor Dent:
“… the Indian word, “mugwump” means fearless sturgeon and is all part of a very old Indian legend from an old Indian…”a direct descendant of Chief Wabi” who told him the mugwump was reputed to be the length of four Indian braves. Putting the average height of a brave at about five feet… concluded the mugwump was probably over 20 feet long…” Mayor Dent said he had only heard of the animal in 1969
Then in February 2, 1982 an article appeared by Alice Peeper in The Temiskaming Speaker, a Mrs. Kate Ardtree recalled her father telling stories about the animal as a child. Mrs Ardtree was elderly at the time so the story must have been from 1920’s or 1930’s. Mrs. Ardtree had never seen the animal herself. “…Sure I know about it, or should I say them?” she smiled. “I well remember my daddy talking about the monster.” Mrs. Ardtree also remembers her Dad bringing home one of its scales when she was just a girl. The scale was as big as a saucer and the family had it around the house for years….”
Dariene Wroe then wrote in the August 9, 1995 issue of The Temiskaming Speaker about the story of John Cobb. Cobb , then 83 years old, recalled an event from the early 1940’s when he worked on the tugboats moving logs along the lake.
“…One night I was coming up just about dark and I seen the darn thing in the lake.” He describes a creature about 20 feet long with a round head and nose like an animal’s. “I didn’t know what it was. When we come up close it disappeared…”
Then Chuck Coull outlined his encounter with a strange beast in the lake to journalist Mike Pearson in 1979. He claimed it happened in the early 1960’s:
“…We were cruising around in the boat, about a third of the way back from Burnt Island, when we saw what looked like a deadhead. We pulled up to it. It rolled over and swam away…. It was the biggest sturgeon you’ve ever seen… I’d been hearing about the thing all my life….”Chuck Coull was with his father at the time and estimates the animal sighted was around 8 feet long( 2.5 metres).
The Temiskaming Speaker also had reported that in 1978, Ernie Chartrand and his wife, who lived in the town of Haileybury, were seated at a table in The Matabanick, a local Hotel, where they had a good view of the lake. Their attention was drawn to "something" that was moving shoreward at a very fast pace. As it was nearing the shore, it did a sudden and complete turnabout and headed out back to deep water. Both Mr. and Mrs. Chartrand had noticed that this "thing" had a large humped back, and they noticed that it had no fins along its side or back, as itswam away. According to The Speaker, Ernie stated that it must have been 15 feet long( 5metres). He further stated that he will go on record anytime as to his sighting of the Lake Temiskaming monster” (The Temiskaming Speaker February 3, 1982)
Another article by Alice Peeper of the The Temiskaming Speaker appeared February 17, 1982. This time it was the story of Roger Lapointe and Dan Arney who were ice fishing at the time in a borrowed hut.
According to Roger Lapointe and Dan Arney of Cobalt,the two men decided to try their luck at ice-fishing so they managed to borrow a friend's ice-fishing hut for a night.They had just settled in, when their tip-ups started to agitate in an alarming manner. Hauling the lines in, they discovered their bait and lines were missing. It looked like they were sheared right off, the men had reported later. Resetting the line, they settled back with a brew and were wondering what was stirring in the depths below the fish-hut, when in about 20 minutes, or perhaps half an hour, their tackle flew right up in the air and then vanished down the hole. The men were dumb-founded! "To hell with this," Lapointe relates, "Let's pack it in", and Arney agreed. They were donning their parkas, when Arney said he could feel the small hairs on the back of his neck stiffen (this sixth sense had served him well in the RCMP back a dozen years). Arney said he just knew that something was watching them as he reached out and put a silencing grip on his partner's arm and they began to survey the half-dark interior of the hut. Looking downwards at the fishing hole, they saw a black, glistening head with protruding eyeballs, and one of these eyes was staring fixedly at the men "like it was sizing us up for a snack", Lapointe remarked. When Arney shouted, "Let's get the hell out of here", he lost no time in following him out the door. They leaped aboard their snow machine and raced for shore. When contacted about their experience, both men agreed there was "something" out there in the lake, alright.
Another sighting of the Lake Timiskaming monster has been made by John Sheur of New Liskeard, who claims he saw the monster quite recently. Mr. Sheur says he was locking up his ice-fishing hut for the night, when he heard a crunching noise. Knowing he was the only fisherman still out on the lake, he decided to see what it was about. Thinking it was probably a dog, he almost walked into a long, dark animal, that seemed to be wrapped about several of the ice-fishing huts and was chewing something, said Sheur. What did its head look like? the reporter asked. Something like a dinosaur, said Sheur, "but I didn't stay for a second look." Sheur had dashed for shore on his snow machine and, rushing into a local hotel, tried to get several men to go out and investigate. Two men finally decided to go take a look, but all they found was a rather snake-like trail in the snow. They also noticed that one of the fish-hut doors was wide open. Someone had forgotten to secure it, so the men closed it against the drifting snow. Mr. Harmon of Haileybury, who has an ice-fishing hut near where the incident occurred, said it was the darndest thing that he had been losing line and fish left out in the snow. He presumed it was stray dogs, but now he's not so sure!
So what is it? Well a sturgeon would not come ashore on the ice so could it be our old standby a giant eel? Or could it be more than one creature lives in the lake? It is deep enough to hold more than one large predator, so perhaps there is a large sturgeon and something else in the deep waters.Not sure I would want to be out there fishing!
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