Shown here is an early depiction of the mouth of the Cowichan River (on this side of McCallum’s Bridge) with the lake on the far side of the bridge. Today

The mystery of the Stin-Qua remains

1930: Reported the sighting of a serpent-like creature in the waters of Cowichan Lake

A 1930 issue of the Cowichan Leader reported the sighting by Cougar Charlie of a serpent-like creature in the waters of Cowichan Lake.  Dubbed Ogopogo by some and Stin-Qua by others, it wasn’t the first reported sighting but one of several over the years.

Youbou’s Charlie Caldwell, known as Cougar Charlie, maintained that the creature he’d spotted resembled a serpent. Caldwell said he and friend Fred Fillinger saw a mysterious creature,  “whitish” in colour, while fishing on Cowichan Lake.

This was the second sighting since 1928 when two friends, Jarvis and Hill were hunting and fishing in the area. While crossing Bear Lake (near Mesachie Lake) in the early morning of Sept. 17, 1928, they were very surprised by a strange sight, “Unusual for the lake of fish jumping out of the water everywhere as salmon do when the runs are in.” They noted the oddity then began fishing, hoping to catch their supper.

Moments later, “in the misty distance, they saw, what appeared to be a flock of ducks near the channel that joins Bear Lake with Cowichan Lake.” (Later they insisted that what they saw had been a serpent). Paying no more attention they again, set their sights on catching fish when one of the men “looked around and saw about eight feet of a tapering neck and serpent-like head standing straight out of the water.”

By then they were dumbstruck, although Hill had the presence of mind to reach for his gun. Apparently he had difficulty locating his ammunition which —  he reasoned — stopped him from “obtaining a tangible souvenir” (as proof of the sighting).

Jarvis and Hill described what they saw as a serpent-like creature holding it’s neck straight up in the air for about five seconds. It then moved it’s head back and forth before disappearing with a “serpentine motion” of the body. This action took another few seconds. They then noticed that no tail could be seen as the body wriggled out of sight.

Another sighting had taken place several months earlier when Riverside Inn proprietor Norman Thomas and his wife reported “having distinctly seen” (the mysterious monster) on a beautiful October morning when they were taking a run up the lake in their speedboat.

They noticed what appeared to be two logs ahead of them. Steering between the logs, they passed around the end of one log to within 60 feet of the other log when what they had thought was a log, suddenly bowed up in the middle and disappeared with great commotion.

They then realized that there were no logs nearby therefore concluded that it was the same serpent they had seen on previous occasions.

Thomas stated that in the past, when four tourists were also on board his boat, a long neck about ten or 12 feet above the water was sighted. He stopped the boat to get a better view of what looked like a large snake upwards of 30-feet-long.

On yet another occasion, Thomas had a glimpse of the Stin-Qua  while taking a party up the lake in his boat. Thomas reported that Victor Rundquist (owner of Lake Cowichan Boarding House) had also seen the serpent.

Reporting of the mysterious creature has continued for years but no evidence has ever been presented.

It remains uncertain that there is in fact a Stin-Qua in our waters and like any good mystery, it would cease to be of much interest once solved.