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acres, on McCoy Brook a little more than one mile north of Lake Utopia. It is said that Governor Guy Carleton was the first to notice that some of the grants in this part of Charlotte County were of "utopian" use, being at least partially beneath the nearby lake. Hugh Mackay selected tract #1 for the construction of the his home at Bonny River and Alexander seems to have been given a bit of his property several decades after first settlement. Hugh owned additional lands on the east side of Lake Utopia. His five hundred acres in this locale included two minor streams, one of which Hugh named "Colonel" and the other "Mackay." These empty into Trout Lake, which became a lumber-staging area coherent with Lake Utopia. The latter lake is about nine miles long and hour-glass shaped, varying in width from about oneand-a-half mile to a maximum of three mile. It is extremely deep in some places. Lake Utopia became a part of the complex that fed the mills of St. George parish. In the Victorian era, most of the logs were cut in the region northeast of Lake Utopia. Some were collected on the banks of the Piskehegan Stream, which is tributary to the Maguaguadavic, but others were sledded overland and dumped into Mill Lake. Mill Lake Stream was once a sluice way into Utopia, where the logs were boomed and loaded on horse-drawn wagons bound for Canal. The Canal was a dredged waterway, the western exit from Utopia into the Maguaguadavic. Some of the logs from all the drives were taken to St. George but Gillmor (on my grandmother's side)and Jamieson established one at Canal, as did their competitor, Alfred Patterson. The former firm once had fourteen teams devoted to moving logs from Dam Lake, a little east of Mill Lake to their "Live-Wire" Mill. When great-great grandfather Alex was 58, and his son 13 years of age, lumberman working near the sluice way brought home tales of the first sighting of the Lake Utopia Monster. We don't know if Alex was actually present at a "sighting," but the family did take a proprietary interest in this monster, whose home was a short walk south from their doorstep. The beast was first spotted in 1856 but it was 1868 before an attempt was made to turn it into a trophy. During that year, the Saint Croix Courier said: "Several gentlemen of St. George recently brought the monster of Lake Utopia to the surface by exploding twenty-five pounds of dynamite under the water near the Mill (i.e. the Mill Stream)...and four rifle shots were discharged at him". Apparently he had a thick hide because newspaper reporters for the New Dominion were attracted to the area by continued sightings. They criss-crossed the Lake by sailboat in August of that year, became disillusioned and were about to return to Upper Canada when, "Lo! there it was about 150 yards from us. What I saw of it appeared to be about seven foot in length and perhaps two and one-half to three feet in height..." Additional coverage came when Andrew Leith Adams mentioned it in Field And Forest Rambles, a travel book published in London in 1873. He was convinced that it was a local hoax or at best "an extravagant delusion". Lumbermen, he admitted, "were suddenly disturbed by the splashing of some object, which some individuals asserted was fully ten feet in breadth and about thirty feet in length." An account for The Illustrated News of Canada published at about this time said that the Monster erupted from the water with a force which threw logs into the air, after which, "the water boiled and foamed as if a geyser had suddenly broken forth." For two days after this incident "appearances were alleged in different parts of the lake; and so positive were the residents that some monstrous animal was the cause, they set large hooks baited with salt fish and pork...The credulous asserted that a slimy track of some huge animal had been traced from the ocean to the lake thirty years ago...we were considered adventurers in sailing on the lake so soon after the above occurrence." After listening to eye-witnesses, Adams concluded that the effects described had taken place, but could not see that access of a marine monster to the Lake was possible "considering the geology of the place." He thought what had been observed might have been air and water vented from "sub-lacustrine rock fissures", or perhaps "shoals of eels or fishes in violent activity, or the result of a whirlwind." In the latter case, the old-timers would have more certainly tied what was seen to an effect of the little people. The historian, William Francis Ganong followed Adams to Saint George parish in 1891. His note book reads, in part: "Mr. McCartney, an observant and well-informed resident of Red Rock, said that some twenty years ago he often saw the Monster of Lake Utopia while lumbering there; it was a dark red in colour, the part showing above water was twenty feet long and as big around as a small hogshead; it had two large flapping affairs like fins; no head was ever shown; it was much like a large eel; it never let anyone get near it but was often seen by lumbermen
from the shore; he had seen it many times with his own eyes; he had also seen or heard of the great furrows in the sand which it had made; it disappeared about eighteen years ago and has not since been heard of by anyone." Ganong also interviewed James Woodbury, who reinforced the old story that the monster periodically moved overland between the Lake and the sea. Others who were questioned said this nuck had "a dark red head" which a few though resembled either an alligator or a horse. The next appearance of this great serpent was near the coast of Maine, where it was seen by the entire crew of the schooner Madagascar which was en route Lubec. During the morning watch, at 6 o'clock July 28, 1901, the vessel was standing under sail moving north along the coast at six to eight knots. The watch sighted an object on the starboard bow which had the appearance of a huge log. As the drew closer, Edward Ray, a sailor from Ellsworth, Maine, said that he thought the "log" was moving. The mate, Len Armstrong of Lubec, saw the object floating on the surface but was not as certain there was movement. As they approached within a sea-biscuit throw of the object, the two sailors were astonished to have it raise a great snake-like head and glide sinuously away from the ship. They were close enough to observe minute details: In shape they said that the creature came closest to a snake but it was 30 feet long, covered with scales, ranging in colour from green to brown, and strangely refractive of the sun's rays. Along the back, from head to tail, they saw a spinal points, which seemed an extension of the back bone. Just below the head was a huge dorsal fin, or spine, thick, dark in colour, and about the size of a man's hand. The crew agreed that the body diameter must be about two feet, tapering slightly beyond the head and drastically towards the tail. As far as they could see there was no difference between the body tone or colour from the top to the bottom surface of the animal. After the monster was safely separated from the ship it lay quietly upon the water for a number of minutes, seemingly appraising events. For a half hour more, the men watched it making fast skipping motions through the water, traveling only a short distance with each burst of energy. It appeared entirely fearless, showing no alarm at any of the tacks made by the vessel. In speaking of the incident, Edward Ray told the "Saint Croix Courier" that he had been a seaman for nine years and had sailed the Atlantic from Africa to Labrador, but had never seen anything in the sea that resembled this creature. Asked if he thought it might have been possible to trap the animal, he said that no crew could have taken such a massive creature alive, and he guessed it would have been dangerous to injure it with a harpoon. Again, the "St. Andrews Beacon" reported another sighting, August 2, 1906: This time the serpent was seen close to land by Thebold Rooney, keeper of the Sand Reef Light. Rooney thought that the monster had been draw to land in the wake of schools of herring, which he may have been pursuing. If so, he was not after food, for after moving quietly about he moved away from the lighthouse in the direction of Clam Cove. Rooney got out his binoculars and reported the animal to be between 25 and 30 feet, judging by background objects. The head was small and snake-like and he guessed it to be the diameter of a weir stake. The keeper said that he might have taken it as a shark except for the lack of any dorsal fin. As the serpent moved out of sight it flipped up a "tail" in whale-fashion, and was lost to sight. Rooney said that this was not the first "sea-snake" he had seen in St. Andrews Bay. Several years earlier he had been in the company of several other fisherman when one went scudding by making "a great deal of noise". For their part, the editors of the newspaper supported the keeper noting he was "not a man given to seeing snakes other than sea serpents." Visiting the region, Ganong noted this flurry of sightings, and published a paper in 1907 edition of The Bulletin Of The New Brunswick Natural History Society, noting: "For the past few summers the local papers have often reported the appearance of "sea-serpents" at Passamaquoddy and the Saint Croix. The animal is really there but it is according to testimony of observant persons, a White Whale... Locally it is stated that it came into the Bay with the war-ships during the Champlain celebrations, June 25, 1905. But in this belief we have nothing but an illustration of another wonder tendency, viz. the habit of linking together, as casually connected, prominent events which are merely contemporaneous; for the data in my possession shows that the animal was seen in the bay at least one season before 1905." Ganong remained interested in the legend: "I have been on the lookout for some years past, during my trips to New Brunswick waters, for appearances which might sustain a sea-serpent preconception." Aside from the Utopia sightings, which were all second-hand, he did uncover the "inconclusive testimony" of Dr. J. Orner Green, who thought that a similar creature occupied Lake Oromocto, many miles to the north. There was also the "celebrated case" of Mr. Eben Hall, who seems to have seen the wewiliamaq of the Passamaquoddies in the lakes of Maine. Although Ganong thought that this native of Saint Stephen gave evidence "in good faith" he was suspicious of the
fact that Hall was making a living with the information on a lecture tour. Unable to convince himself of the existence of this creature, Ganong finally concluded that the nuck was "floating logs" or up-wellings of gas as Adams had suggested. The trails across land, which the Indians said were left by this jipijkamaq, Ganong dismissed as Indian portage routes or trails left by well-fed beavers. The story did not end with Ganong. Several decades later Robert White, the foreman of a lumber rafting crew, watched in fascination as "a shining coil of black flesh" turned over within his log boom on Lake Utopia. The upheaval of logs which followed was seen by all of his workers and none of them thought that it looked much like escaping jets of water and air. Joseph Goddill later said that he frequently watched the animal sunning itself on the spring ice just before break-up. If the nuck was a log, or a group of logs, it must have been powered by an outboard motor because Victor Cook saw it traveling away from his location on the shore at a speed of about eight knots. In 1951, Mrs. Fred McKillop, a ninety year old grandmother, told the Telegraph-Journal of her encounter with the famous monster: "It is still fresh in my mind, and I was never so frightened in all my life...The men had gone fishing (on Lake Utopia) and had left me to sit with two of my grandchildren. We were all watching the lake and it was beautiful. It was so clear it resembled glass and there wasn't a ripple showing." "Suddenly, as I watched the water commenced to boil and churn and make waves which came in and broke on the shore. Then a huge creature of some sort emerged from the water, at least it showed part of its head and part of its body. It resembled a huge black rock, but it moved and churned all the time. I was alone with the grandchildren at our cabin, and was so terrified that I took the children and ran into the cabin and locked the door." "After a short time had passed, I realized that whatever it was belonged in the lake and so we were in no danger. It was then that I went outside again and watched it. I had never before heard of the Lake Utopia Monster, and therefore, had no idea what it was. When the men returned home I told them about it and they said that must have been what it was..." (I have additional notes, maps of the area, etc. Will publish here if there is any interest!) First published on the web in 1995. Back To Index