The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in the UK in 1992 - nearly 20 years ago. Over the past two decades it has expanded to become a truly global organisation. We opened our American office in 2001, our Australian office in 2009, and now - in our 19th year - we are proud to welcome CFZ Canada to the CFZ global family.

Sunday 17 July 2011

Ken Chaplin’s Ogopogo: Twenty-two Years Later

by Robin Bellamy

On July 18, 1989, a 42 year old car salesman from Kelowna, BC captured something on tape. Ken was a Okanagan Valley native, having lived near the lake all his life. He had been driven to take a camera to the lake because his father, 79 year old Clem Chaplin, believed he had seen Ogopogo that day.
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Ken and Clem described something hairless, green in color, with spots. They believed what they saw was about 15 feet long, which is rather small by Ogopogo standards. The video (you can see in here –Ken’s bit starts about 6 minutes and 40 seconds in) is of course pretty grainy and pretty generic. There is something in the water of course, but is it a cryptid? They captured it again a few days later as well. Ken, his daughter, and his dad, all believe this to be Ogopogo. So did a lot of other people. Time Magazine ran the story, as did other news outlets and the footage was examined. The tape was proved to not be a hoax, but was it a monster? Some believe it was an otter or a beaver.

Clem Chaplin was born in Kelowna, and his father pioneered the area several years before Clem’s birth. When Ken was 13, his father Clem shared the story of his own father’s sighting many years before. Initially Mr. Chaplin the elder thought he had seen a log, but upon closer inspection discovered the creature was living and it suddenly dove deeper into the lake. Clem had fished the lake all his life and had his own sightings to pass on. Now Ken was the third generation, and Ken’s daughter the fourth, of the Chaplin family to see this thing. Surely, they, along with other Valley natives, couldn’t be mistaken.

Lake Okanagan is located in the south central BC interior. The lake is long, and sightings have occurred throughout, although most occur in the Rattlesnake Island/Peachland area. The Natives had a long oral history about the demon in the lake, calling it N'ha-a-itk. Natives claimed the demon's lair was a cave under Squally Point near Rattlesnake Island, located offshore near Peachland. According to legend, no man or woman would paddle a canoe near this area without an offering to the creature lest a storm spring up and claim their life. When white settlers arrived in the mid 1800s, they claimed to not be superstitious and ventured into the lake, only to begin seeing the monster for themselves. An incident in 1860 involved what appeared to be two horses swimming behind a boat that was suddenly pulled beneath the waves. The owner saved himself by cutting the rope attached to his horses.

The first documented sighting of the cryptid called Ogopogo was in 1872 (some sources cite this as 1852 but this seems unlikely as the first settlement was in 1859 and wasn’t even part of Canada until 1871) by a Mrs. John Allison. In 1926 thirty carloads of people sighted what they believed to be Ogopogo near Mission Beach. Year after year, sightings—often with photographs or video—are reported. BC has embraced their monster as a tourist draw with many boats, teams, landmarks, and memorabilia using the Ogopogo moniker. Canada even issued a stamp commemorating the cryptid in 1990.

Are we any closer to solving the mystery of Ogopogo? Since the lake is similar in size and depth to Loch Ness in Scotland, and lies along nearly the same latitude, speculation is that Nessie and Ogopogo are of the same species. Reports are similar in the appearance and behaviour. Yet that only shows a similarity to another unproven cryptid. The Chaplin family is well respected so their credibility is not in doubt, but sadly “science” doesn’t put much stock in witness testimony. Even when the witnesses number in the thousands.

Sadly, we are no closer to proving Ogopogo than the natives were three hundred years ago. In 1989 Chapman used the best technology available—a video camera—to show what he saw. We can only hope that as technology improves, so will the evidence of this cryptid’s existence.

Further Reading:

1 comment:

  1. Since I had independant evidence for Giant beaver (Castoroides)at that lake, I am inclined to put this small-sized sighting in that category. If you have not seen my FOZ postings on the matter, I can send you my links.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.