The old tale of the Mesachie Man barely lingers on in the annals of history or let alone in the memories of a very few. In today’s world the knowledge of the tale is likely non-existent but at one time there was a belief, by some, that the ‘strange being’ dubbed the Mesachie Man actually existed in the vast wilderness of the Cowichan Lake area.
It was some twenty-five years ago that Trevor, son of early area pioneer Frank Green, related his knowledge of the strange being that was said to have inhabited the area centering near Mesachie Lake.
Trevor and his brother Brian “would listen, fascinated, to spine chilling narrations about the blood-curdling yells” that occasionally broke the night’s silence and the dreadful and evil face [with shaggy brow and protruding jaw] that was seen peering over a log by a pioneer friend of their father. The mere suggestion that the screams could have been those of an unseen cougar were shot down with the explanation that the screams were altogether different.”
Although Trevor and Brian’s mother, known as Louie, harboured some skepticism regarding the existence of the creature, she kept them to herself. Though she had never seen nor heard the evil one, she did not denounce him as being a creature of fiction, nor did she devoutly believe.
Unlike her sister-in-law, Louie, the boys Aunt Nan was made of sterner fibre and in her later years would harbour great faith in the creature. Occasionally she would berate anyone who doubted the story, saying “WHAT, no Mesachie Man?….of course there’s a Mesachie Man – I heard him, didn’t I?, that terrible wailing scream in the night. Certainly there’s a Mesachie Man!”
The origins of the early legend, according to Trevor’s recollection, were somewhat unclear although their father Frank and his sister (aunt) Nan apparently believed that the creature was half man, half gorilla that had somehow escaped from a sailing ship, off the West Coast, and perhaps had been destined to become an exhibit or sideshow somewhere on the notorious waterfront of Seattle or San Francisco.
Whether there was a plausible explanation in support of the legend is unlikely but there was documented information, in the form of a story told to Frank Price, Cowichan Leader reporter, by highly respected native Nitinat Charlie of a fierce inhuman monster who used to roam the mountains around Kaatza (Cowichan Lake).
He was called a man but had many characteristics of an animal, with claws, hair and the head of a bear. As the legend grew, the local natives were said to have become much in awe of this creature and avoided areas, such as Mesachie Lake, due to its proximity to Robertson River, the route the monster was believed to have taken in his escape from the West Coast.
The legend, much embraced by Trevor and Brian’s Aunt Nan, clung to her memory for many years hence. Later, from her shabby living room, in the old creaking house on Fernwood Road (in Victoria), in the dim light of the primitive electric bulbs, as the wind wailed outside she would say that it was on such a night as this that we used to hear the Mesachie Man in the early dawn at the Lake, where we fastened the windows and would hear that terrible scream.
Believable or not, it is evident that Aunt Nan was a gifted story teller as was her nephew, Lake Cowichan’s treasured historian, the late Trevor Green.