t's been a very good monster-sighting season on Lake Memphremagog. At least 27 boaters and cottagers -- in nine separate reported visions -- claim to have seen Memphre, our resident sea monster, since ice-out this spring.
Well, not that they said they actually saw her. Or at least not all of her. No, they reported seeing wakes and waves, dark "bumps" in the water, a "fin."
Of course, these sightings of sea serpents on Beautiful Waters have been reported since the days when the Abenaqui owned this place. In the late 1700s they told the newly arrived white settlers they neither swam nor bathed in the 30-mile-long lake -- they were afraid of the sea serpent.
A report in Quebec's weekly Stanstead Journal in late January, 1847, put it this way: "I am not aware whether it is generally known that a strange something of a sea serpent...exists in Lake Memphremagog..."
Jacques Boisvert of Magog, Quebec -- local historial, veteran scuba diver, chief monster hunter and founder of the International Dracontology Society of Lake Memphremagog -- is known the world over as the popularizer of Memphre.
Through his efforts and those of his serious associate in monster hunting (1st Lady Dracontologist Barbara Malloy, who lives at the head of the lake, in Newport, Vermont) nearly 190 reported serpent sightings have been recorded. Here are some excerpts from this year's crop:
May 4, 3 p.m.: North of Lord's Island
May 4, 4 p.m.: 1 km south of Lord's Island
May 19: West of Jewett Point
"My sister-in-law and I saw the "vee" of a wave which was 8 or 10 inches high coming toward us. At that point, the object was 50 feet from our boat and the lake was very calm. We were able to observe this phenomenon for as long as two minutes when 'whatever it was' dove underwater near us. We were in the middle of the lake, west of Jewett Point.
"During this time, my brother, who had been checking the sonar, restarted the motor. He went about 100 feet to ascertain that the sonar was no longer working. He stopped and we again saw the wave coming at us from another direction.
"At that moment, Mrs. Ethier, Mr. Pelchat, and I clearly saw an object immediately behind the wave. I would say it was black and at least 20 feet long. I have done some whale watching in the St. Lawrence, and it reminded me a little of the back of a whale. The back could have had bumps on it, or perhaps that was caused by the movement of the water as it moved along at normal speed, similar to that of a beaver moving through water."
July 3, 7-8 p.m.: At the foot of Owl's Head mountain
They said they saw a dark back, bumps, and a fin. The apparition lasted one to one and a half minutes. Around 15 feet from shore the creature went into the water like a whale, they said. Each witness individually told Bosivert that they believe they saw something that looked like a sea-serpent with multiple bumps.
Bosivert says that later on the same day Michael Dion and Paul Perry reported seeing Memphre near Prouty Beach at Newport, around 4 pm. The distance between these two sightings is about 10 miles.
Stay tuned for more monster reports -- we have months to go before Lake Memphremagog is ice bound and Memphre retreats to the comfort of her lair beneath Owl's Head.
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1996 /Log Cabin Chronicles/9.96