Manipogo Provincial Park
Margaret Bruce Provincial Park
Rainbow Beach Provincial Park
Lake Manitoba teems with fish. Anglers can pull out large numbers of Walleye, Northern Pike, and Yellow Perch. One species of marine life that no one has managed to catch is the elusive Lake Manitoba monster – Manipogo.
Like the Loch Ness Monster, in Scotland, and Ogopogo, in Lake Okanagan, B.C., Manipogo is a large, serpent-like creature that some have claimed to have seen swimming in Lake Manitoba. Sightings have occurred throughout the last century, mainly in the Toutes Aides area, north of Ste. Rose du Lac.
Eyewitnesses have claimed the monster to be anywhere between 12 and 45 feet in length. Some have said it looked like it had the head of a horse, some say the head of a sheep.
With the majority of sightings happening around Toutes Aides, the Manitoba government decided to name the area’s provincial park after the mythical beast.
Manipogo Provincial Park is roughly 330 kilometres north-west of Winnipeg and 55 kilometres north of Ste. Rose du Lac, on Provincial Road 276. The park sits on the far north-western shore of Lake Manitoba, close to where the lake almost meets Lake Winnipegosis.
The park has a full service campground, a small convenience store, and a long strip of beach. Unfortunately, with rain coming down in sheets when we were there, we didn’t get to enjoy any of the amenities of the park. The weather seemed to have scared everyone else off as well, as the park was largely deserted.
I can’t blame them: The wind was howling off the lake at gale-force strength.
Not surprisingly, we didn’t spot Manipogo while staring out from the beach, but there have been roughly a dozen documented sightings of the lake monster since the late 1950s. Of course, like the Loch Ness Monster, Ogopogo, and Sasquatch, no one has been able to conclusively capture Manipogo on film.
The two most intriguing sightings occurred in 1962 and 1997. The first sighting was during a fishing trip. Dick Vincent of KCND Television (later CKND, now Global) and his television colleague, John Konefell, spotted a serpent-like creature and chased after it in their boat.
They were unable track down the mysterious animal, but were able to take a blurred photograph. The photograph showed a large, dark object rising two feet out of the water. In subsequent years, Vincent denied that it was Manipogo, claiming he wasn’t sure what it was.
The 1997 sighting attracted national media attention. The Globe and Mail reported, on June 12 of that year, "People in communities around Lake Manitoba are buzzing about a 15-metre snake-like creature, with a head like a horse, that was supposedly shot and spirited away under cover of darkness recently."
The story goes something like this: A man from the Sandy Bay First Nation, north of Portage La Prairie, had claimed to come across Manipogo, while harvesting hay from his lakeshore property. He said that he grabbed a rifle, shot and killed the creature, and then dragged it to a nearby barn. The RCMP was called and they loaded Manipogo on to a flatbed truck, covered it with a tarp, and drove off towards Winnipeg.
The story quickly unravelled though, when the RCMP denied any knowledge of the incident. Stories told by alledged witnesses contradicted each other and some denied the killing occurred. In the end, the story was deemed a hoax, the result of stories told at a party that were spread around the community. This event was the last supposed sighting of Manipogo.
We left Manipogo, travelling next to Margaret Bruce Provincial Park, located on the west shore of Lake Manitoba, 140 kilometres south of Manipogo Provincial Park. Interestingly, the mysterious lake creature has never been spotted in this area. The park includes a privately operated campground and beach. Again, the driving rain prevented us from fully checking out the area.
The final provincial park we visited on this trip was Rainbow Beach Provincial Park, located on the south shore of Dauphin Lake. This campground and beach is adjacent to Highway 20, roughly 18 kilometres east of Dauphin. The beach looked like it would be a nice place to relax on a sunny afternoon, but with the wind driving the rain off the lake, it was a desolate place when we visited.
This was the first weekend journey that was completely rained out. With the weather looking a lot better for next weekend (if one can trust the forecast), we’re going to make our way west to Duck Mountain and that area’s provincial parks.
Parks visited in today's blog post: