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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

LINDSAY SELBY: Gaasyendietha, a dragon in Lake Ontario

Gaasyendietha, according to Seneca mythology, is a dragon that dwells in the deep areas Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario empties into the St Lawrence river, which runs out into the Atlantic Ocean. The average depth of Lake Ontario is 280 feet (72 metres) and in the deeper areas the depth is about 800 feet (266 metres). Like Loch Ness the lake rarely freezes in the winter.


Jacques Cartier, the French explorer who mapped much of the St Lawrence river, kept a journal and in it he recorded that he and members of his crew saw what they described as "a giant finned snake" that moved like a caterpillar, using its side fins to propel itself forward in the water. Cartier's crew tried to capture the beast, but it moved too quickly and dived beneath the waters. When Cartier consulted with the indigenous peoples of the region, they called the creature "Gaasyendietha.”


The reports of something in the lake continued:



  • In 1817 the crew of a ship witnessed the appearance of a blackish snake-like monster “a foot in diameter (30cm) and 30 – 40 feet in length (10- 15 metres)” approx three miles offshore.

  • In 1829 two children stated that they saw a “20 – 30 feet.”( 7-10metres) snake-like creature near Grantham. Their experience was recounted in a local paper, which went on to state that “this wasn’t the first sighting in Lake Ontario and, doubtless, that such serpents lived in the lake.”

  • This newspaper report appeared on http://www.cryptomundo.com/1867 September 5 – Another report of the appearance of the great snake or water monster in Lake Ontario has reached us. We have it from reliable citizens who reside on the Lake shore in Parma [New York], ten miles or so west of the mouth of the Genesee, that on Thursday last [possibly August 29] , just as sunset, this monster was seen in the water close to shore. A drove of cattle went to drink, whereupon the huge monster raised his head above the water and approached the shore, intending no doubt to take an evening meal of fresh beef. The noise made by the animal as he came into shallow water frightened the cattle and they ran back from the beach in great fright. Half an hour later the same drove of cattle sought to drink at a place fifty rods west of the spot where they first went and were again driven away by the monster. The occurrence drew to the beach several persons residing not far distant and caused a sensation. It won’t answer for anybody to go into that neighborhood and say that there is not a monster in the lake. Too many have seen the animal to doubt its existence. – Rochester [N.Y.] Union.“The Ontario Sea Monster Again,
    Galveston, Texas, Galveston Daily News, September 5, 1867.

  • In 1968 a Scarborough resident saw an eel-like creature 20 feet (7 metres ) long with a “mane of some sort” in the waters off Toronto. These sightings are from the Eastern end of the Lake.

  • September 1881. Passengers and crew of the steamship ‘Gypsy’ saw a creature approx. 25 – 40 feet( 6-14 metres) in length with small legs and a large tail in the water.

  • In 1888. in the channel between Wolfe and Simcoe islands two sailors reported seeing a serpent creature

  • In 1892 a couple was reportedly “attacked by a huge serpent with eyes like balls of fire” near Brackey’s Bay. The husband fended off the monster with his fishing pole.

  • In 1931 Two physicians reported a 30feet long ( 10 metres) creature described as having “one eye in the middle of his head as well two antler-like horns” as they sailed from Alexandria Bay to Kingston’s yacht club in August

  • In 1970’s an employee of the Ministry of Natural Resources twice witnessed “a large creature dive into the lake from the shores of Prince Edward County. (However whether this is on official record I don’t know).

So does a dragon live in Lake Ontario or some sort of water snake or eel? If anyone knows of any recent sightings please post.

1 comment:

Dale Drinnon said...

The creature was known to Oudemans who however regarded freshwater sightings all as hoaxes at the time. The 1931 sighting is indeed commonly regarded as a hox in the literature.

However there are some standard-Sea-serpent type sightings and then again the more eel-like ones, I suspect there is more than one type of creature being reported in the lake. Some of the reports are much the same as in Lake Erie and others are more like the reports you hear in Lake Champlain.

And there are several other native names for "The Serpent in the Lake", some of them more easily pronounceable to English-speakers.