Quebec lake monster legend comes to life on coin
CTV News.ca Staff
Published Monday, August 8, 2011 1:39PM EDT
A legendary creature who's said to lurk at the bottom of a Quebec lake has suddenly re-surfaced – on the 25-cent piece.
The lake monster affectionately known as "Memphre" will soon find a spot on a collectible coin being released by the Royal Canadian Mint.
Memphre has long been a local legend in Quebec's Eastern Townships; he's sort of the Loch Ness monster of the region. He is said to live on the bottom of picturesque Lake Memphremagog, a long, narrow lake that runs across the Quebec border into Vermont.
First Nations' legends from the area speak of mysterious monsters lurking in the lake, and over the years, dozens of locals have claimed to have spotted him. Official records begin in 1816 and reveal as many as eight sightings every year.
In modern times, witnesses have tried to capture the creature on video, with images showing something large swimming under the surface, causing big ripples on the water. But no one has never captured the monster itself.
Some believe Memphre could be a sea snake, like the more famous "Nessie" of Loch Ness, or Ogopogo, the name given to the lake monster said to live in Okanagan Lake, B.C.
Others, like Patrick Corcoran have come up with their own explanations. Corcoran works for Tours Mempremagog, which offers boat tours of the lake to tourists in search of the creature. He thinks the snake is likely just a big fish.
"The fact that the lake is 360 feet deep in two sections, there's a good chance there is a large fish, because that's where it would be," he tells CTV.
While Memphre has eluded positive identification from scientists, his image could end up in the display cases of Canadian coin collectors soon.
The Royal Canadian Mint has unveiled a full-colour, oversized quarter that will feature Memphre as part of the mint's new "Mythical Creatures" series, which also features Canada's beloved ape-man, Sasquatch.
The Memphre coin was unveiled this past week by the family of renowned "dracontologist" and Memphre historian, Jacques Boisvert. Boivert died in 2006, but over his lifetime, he made as many as 7,000 dives in search of Memphre -- all to no avail.
His widow, Ginette Choquette, says Boisvert always kept an open mind about whether Memphre was real.
"He never said he believed, and he never said he didn't believe," Choquette told CTV News.
The new coin sells for $25, but it is already in high demand. It's on back order on the mint's website, a testament to how the legend of Memphre continues to pay off.
With a report from CTV's Genevieve Beauchemin