9 Canadian Myths and Monsters


Believe in yourself, even if no one else will. – Sasquatch

The above expression is a standing joke among Canadians. The Sasquatch, more commonly known as Bigfoot, is one of Canada’s greatest myths. It is very similar in nature to the Yeti or Abominable Snowman of the Himalayan Mountains. The only other Canadian myth that comes close to rivalling Bigfoot is that of Canada’s Loch Ness Monster – the Ogopogo. Both of these myths live in the hearts and minds of Canadians – but neither has been proven to fully exist as of yet. However, this is where the similarity between the two stops. The Sasquatch and the Ogopogo are starkly different in nature, sharing little to no similarities in terms of physical features and historical background.

The principal difference between the two myths – Sasquatch and Ogopogo – is probably their physical features. The two could not be more different. Where the Sasquatch is thought to be a primate, Ogopogo is believed to be a water serpent. Up to an incredible 15 feet in height, the Sasquatch stands on two feet and towers over all known primates, weighing up to 800 lbs. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2020).  And with its tracks reportedly measuring 60 cm in length and 80 cm in width, it is probably the largest hairy ape in human history (ibid). If it exists, that is. The Ogopogo, on the other hand, is said to range anywhere from 20 to 80 feet in length (Kelowna, 2020). Reportedly described as multi-humped, the Ogopogo has been said to appear in many different colours: green, black, brown, and gray (Radford, 2014). Bigfoot is only known to be brown. The head of the Ogopogo does not resemble that of a primate either. Supposed eyewitnesses have described its head as resembling that of a snake, horse, seal, sheep, or even alligator (Radford, 2014). Whereas physical evidence of a Sasquatch – or shall we say a large being – exists by way of tracks and body imprints (Meldrum, 2006), none has been found for the Ogopogo, thereby making its existence more difficult to prove.

Although both creatures have their roots in First Nations history, their stories differ.  The word Sasquatch is said to stem from the Salish word Sasq’ets, which means wild or hairy man (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2020). For centuries, the First Nations of British Columbia (B.C.) have shared oral stories of the Sasquatch, who is believed to have the ability to move between the physical and spiritual world. In many stories, the Sasquatch is portrayed as a thief – someone who steals food, women, and children. The creature is probably most celebrated in Harrison Hot Springs, B.C. where – up until 1940 when their signal fires raged for the last time – the different Sasquatch in the region allegedly met up once a year for four days (Tourism Harrison Hot Springs, 2016). The Ogopogo, on the other hand, was seen as a more blood thirsty creature initially. It stems from the ancient legend of N’ha-a-itk, a ferocious monster that supposedly lived in Lake Okanagan, B.C. and which demanded a live sacrifice from the tribes living in the area for safe passage across the lake (Radford, 2014). Tribes used to bring live chickens and small animals to sacrifice before venturing on to the lake. Legend has it that those that failed to do so paid with their lives. But Ogopogo is not believed to be this same cruel water spirit – just a relative of it. It is now a much gentler soul.

Despite ‘live’ footage of these two very different creatures, experts are not convinced of the existence of either. Alternate theories abound. The Sasquatch, for example, could simply be a large bear. Or, its footprints can be attributed to a kneeling elk (Radford et al., 2007). Or, it could be a hoax. The Ogopogo, instead of a multi-humped serpent, could actually be various logs floating under the surface of the lake. Or, it could simply be the way the waves flow on the lake. Until solid, scientific-based evidence appears to back up eyewitness accounts and ‘live’ footage, the two creatures that have captured the imagination of the Canadian people will have to remain a mystery – at least for now.



Encyclopedia Britannica. (2020). Sasquatch: Legendary creature. Retrieved January 30, 2020 from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Sasquatch

Kelowna. (2020). Legend of Ogopogo. Retrieved January 30, 2020 from https://www.tourismkelowna.com/plan/about-kelowna/history/ogopogo/

Meldrum, J. (2006). Sasquatch: Legend meets science. New York: Tom Doherty Associates.

Radford, B., Dennet, M., Crowley, M., & Daegling, D. (2007). The nonsense and nonscience of Sasquatch. Skeptical Inquirer, 31(3), 58-61.

Radford, B. (2014). Ogopogo: Canada’s Loch Ness monster. Retrieved January 28, 2020 from https://www.livescience.com/42399-ogopogo.html

Tourism Harrison Hot Springs (2016). Harrison is Sasquatch territory. Retrieved February 3, 2020 from https://www.tourismharrison.com/our-sasquatch


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