Thursday 7 January 2010

Lake Memphremagog and the sea serpent "Memphre"

Lake Memphremagog is a long finger-like fresh water glacial lake located between Newport, Vermont, United States and Magog, Quebec, Canada. The lake is 27 miles (43 km) long and its maximum recorded depth is 285 feet (87 m) .Local legends talked of a sea serpent in it’s depths and the indigenous peoples told settlers not to swim in the lake. The creature was described by Norman Bingham in his novel, The Sea Serpent Legend, in 1926. In the book he revives old legends :

They saw a monster dark and grim

Coming with coiling surge and swim,

With lifted head and tusk and horn,

Fierce as the spirit of Hades born.

(Bullock, 1926 p. 71)

On January 21, 1847 The Stanstead Journal newspaper reported "I am not aware whether it is generally known that a strange animal something of a sea serpent....exists in lake Memphremagog “. There have been over 215 documented sighting of the sea serpent called Memphre, since 1816. Most of the witnesses describe the creature as a long, black or dark green serpent or reptile swimming near or on the surface of the water.

Here is a selection of sightings:

1816 The oldest documented sighting of a "Sea Serpent" in the Lake. The document describing the apparitions of the creature is signed by Ralph Merry IV. He describes four experiences as lived by the citizens of Georgeville and which he finds to be totally credible. He, however, was not a witness to any of these phenomena but only reported the facts as he knew them.. The descriptions usually coincide as to the length and appearance of the serpent like creature. In his accounts Mr. Merry does not refer to the sea serpent but rather to one of the sea serpents of Memphrémagog.
In 1850 David Beebe whilst fishing at Magoon Point, Canada saw a sudden splash, a "head and body" six feet of a huge monster, erect and graceful and motionless.

In 1891 William Watt, caretaker at The Mountain House Resort, at Owl's Head Mountain in Canada saw a "monster" half way across the lake "its" head was elevated above the water.

In 1955 A 19 year old Canadian boy was the first to swim the length of the lake from Newport to Magog in 18 hours and 50 minutes. The following encounter of events was documented in 1990. In the rain I became lost from my guide boat - then I became conscious of a presence in the water ahead of me - about 30 feet below.
"It" gave off a sense of warmth and I went off my normal course - when suddenly the water burst open and a "head" emerged from the lake but "it" gave me the impression that this was a friendly "entity".

In 1960 Eyewitnesses reported seeing a "long slender body" like a "telephone pole" with a neck and head swimming and making waves near the Stake Lighthouse towards the west shore of the lake in Newport. In 1961, two fishermen, heading for Newport observed for about forty seconds a black creature, about 20 feet long, swimming partially submerged. They said the creature t was about 200 feet from their boat, had a round back and an indescribable head. This scene was accompanied by a strange sound.
In 1976 - Belle Island, USA an eyewitness saw "four dark humps" moving through the lake from the east shore towards the border islands.

In 1983 In Fitch Bay Canada two couples saw a "head and neck" with "big brown eyes" appear between their boat and the water skier, when they were stopped in the middle of the lake. It disappeared, making a big splash.

In 1986 North of Horseneck Island June 15th 7:30 pm two eyewitnesses reported while fishing - heard a splashing noise - and saw a "animal sitting on top of the water - with a head and long neck - with two back paddles/legs splashing around!" Also the same year at Horseneck Island, USA a fisherman and son saw a "dark object" like a railroad tie floating in the lake when suddenly "it" disappeared under the water and left a "whirlpool" with a funnel in the centre.

In 1994 four people in two separate boats reported a 30-foot long, black, three-humped creature. The weather was overcast but the lake was calm not a wave, no wind, they observed for at least three minutes from each of their two boats and object 40 to 50 feet long a type of wave shaped like three humps and black in colour. The sighting ended when the creature swam under one of the boats and disappeared into the depths of the lake.
Two people from Montreal had a first sighting in May of 1995, and then saw the sea serpent again in August of the same year. They were able to obtain a film clip (see stills from same above).

In July 1996, four persons witnessed something which they after observed for more than a minute. According to them, the creature had several humps, was about 20 feet long and swam about 50 yards between their boat and the shore.

You will find a complete list of sightings from 1816 to 2003 on this site run by Barbara Malloy who has seen the creature :

Some of the sightings sound like a seal or manatee, others like a giant eel. Something has been seen by too many people to be ignored, that is certain.


Bullock, William Bryant (1985) Beautiful Waters: devoted to the Memphremagog Region in History, Legend, Anecdote, Folk, Poetry and Drama, composed and printed by William Bryant Bullock, Derby Line, Vermont, Ed. Pigwidgeon, 239 p.
Québec Insolite, internet site

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