Where did Ogopogo go?

Ogopogo sightings were once a regular feature of our long hot Okanagan summers. The elusive creature was usually seen in July or August, especially during the now-defunct, Kelowna International Regatta.

Sightings were often near Rattlesnake Island across from Peachland, or around Bear Creek Provincial Park, on the west side of Okanagan Lake, or even in the vicinity of the regatta itself.

Residents may recall film crews arriving from Japan, and Germany and The History Channel, as well as the BBC, who said Prince Charles was among the curious.

Some arrived with elaborate viewing platforms, expensive sonar devices, high-powered lighting, submersibles, divers, and elaborate camera equipment in an attempt to capture or even photograph the elusive creature. Most made good television viewing but there was little, if any, scientific merit to their findings.

And then, there was the time when a million-dollar reward was offered for the capture of it. was it a mammal? a prehistoric remnant? or a creature from a parallel universe? The hunt became so aggressive that Kelowna City Council requested the Ministry of the Environment declare the "world famous Ogopogo" an endangered species, though no one was quite sure this was possible for there was really no proof the creature actually existed.

But lately - other than the much-photographed friendly green monster at the foot of Bernard Avenue, we rarely hear about our lake monster. Most YouTube footage stops around 2006, and a more recent posting doesn't add any convincing new evidence.

It wasn't always so - and the creature wasn't always called Ogopogo. Evolving from the legends of the original Okanagan peoples, N'ha-a-tik was a much-revered though much-feared lake monster. It was said to be the embodiment of an evil wanderer who had murdered a kindly old man and been punished for doing so by being forced to remain near the scene of the crime for all eternity.



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