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Mussie
Creature
Grouping Lake Monster
Sub grouping Local legend
Data
Country Canada
Region Muskrat Lake
Habitat Water

Mussie is an alleged sea monster reported to be living in Muskrat Lake, 75 miles (121 km) northwest of Ottawa, capital of Canada. The legend has gone a through a gradual image change over the years. In the past the creature was depicted with shameless wild exaggeration. Classified as a "hepaxalor" and endowed with three eyes and sharp teeth, Mussie was shown as a great serpent towering over its prey. However, the interest of several "Mussie enthusiasts" of various professional grades has helped to organize witness accounts and streamline the modern perception of Mussie. It is now most popularly imagined as an unknown type of marine mammal, sharing traits with a seal or walrus.

Contents

The legend

Local folklore says that while exploring the region over 300 years ago, Samuel de Champlain learned from the natives of the area of a legendary creature that lived in the lake. Though the legend may certainly descend from native lore, no mention is given of it in Champlain's memoirs. Nevertheless, the myth survived with help from a sign which once welcomed visitors to Cobden. The sign featured Champlain holding his famous lost astrolabe while looking out over Muskrat Lake. In the lake, prominently displayed, is Mussie, depicted as having three eyes and a long tongue. The sign is inaccurate in many ways, least of all in giving the impression that Champlain had actually encountered the creature. Though the sign has been replaced, its impact is still felt. Champlain is still the traditional starting point for any Mussie tale.

The creature

Muskrat Lake, like many other lakes, was formed when the glaciers of the last ice age receded about 10,000 years ago. At that point it was part of the Champlain Sea. Owing to glacial recession the sea was repeatedly diluted, its salt levels rising and falling over the years making it partly salty and partly fresh. About 6,000 years ago the water level dropped and the Champlain Sea disappeared. This would have been the last chance for any potential sea monster to arrive in the lake. Three species of shrimp from the ice age have been found in the lake, giving rise to claims that more substantial species may have survived in deeper parts of the lake.

Author Michael Bradley theorizes that Mussie may be a type of freshwater pigmy walrus, similar to the seals in Seal Lake, Quebec. Eyewitness accounts support this theory with descriptions of slick, silver-grey fur and long white teeth or tusks. In 1988 Bradley conducted a sonar survey of Muskrat Lake in an attempt to find evidence of Mussie's existence. He failed to find anything substantial, though he did capture a sonar image of two creatures, 6-8 feet (1.8 to 2.45 meters) long, at a depth of 24 feet (7.3 m). Bradley notes that these creatures seemed to be undulating vertically. According to Bradley this is remarkable because only two types of creature undulate vertically, invertebrates and marine mammals. The problem with this is that marine mammals need open water in the winter to survive. The closest source of open water is at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River. Mussie enthusiast Dennis Blaedow thinks that Mussie may spend the winter in some form of hibernation feeding off a cache of food deep in the Muskrat Lake caves. Retired Opeongo High School geography teacher Stew Jack thinks that belief in Mussie's existence may be caused by hallucinogenic qualities of the lake water itself.

In the mid-1990s Mussie was made the focal point of a Cobden/Ottawa Valley marketing campaign. Flags, windsocks and signs sprung up all around Cobden and the entire Ottawa Valley. There was talk of offering a $1,000,000 prize for Mussie's capture; unfortunately the plan never saw fulfillment.

Trivia

  • Mussie was most likely the inspiration for the James Gordon song "Mussie" on his album More Hometown Tunes.

Sources

  • Kirk, John (1998). In the Domain of Lake Monsters. Toronto: Key Porter Books. ISBN 1-55263-010-2.  
  • Bradley, Michael (1989). More Than a Myth: The Story of the Muskrat Lake Monster. Willowdale, Ontario: Hounslow Press.  
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