The Thetis Lake Monster

In 1972, a ‘reptilian humanoid’ creature was claimed to be seen by four witnesses by Thetis Lake, just outside of Victoria.

The very picturesque Thetis Lake

The very picturesque Thetis Lake

With its location about 20 minutes out from Victoria on Vancouver Island, the Thetis Lake area is a popular spot for hiking, swimming, fishing, and boating.  Established as a regional conservation area, the first in Canada, in 1958 Thetis Lake consists of roughly 831 hectares of protected forest and parkland.  Seems like a fairly picturesque place but then again so is Loch Ness.  On August 22, 1972 two local teens claimed to have been chased home from the lake by a creature they described as looking vaguely like something resembling Gill-man from the Creature of the Black Lagoon (very 70’s).

A still of Gill-man from the Creature from the Black Lagoon VHS

A still of Gill-man from the Creature from the Black Lagoon VHS

An officer who took the statements of those two boys believed that they were sincere in their claims.  This appeared to be verified when two men came forward four days later claiming to have seen the same creature on the opposite side of the lake from its first appearance.

The same day that the second group of claimants had come forward, August 26, 1972, a potential solution appeared to present itself.  A man called into the Province newspaper claiming to have lost his pet Tegu lizard in the area of Thetis Lake the year before.  However, the police felt that this type of lizard in no way matched the creature as it was described by the eyewitnesses.

Tegu lizards can grow up to 4ft in length but there is definitely nothing 'humanoid' about them.

Tegu lizards can grow up to 4ft in length but there is definitely nothing ‘humanoid’ about them.

Despite having police support, no additional sightings have been reported since that summer in the late 70’s and, recently, one of the original two witnesses came forwarded to report that the original story had been a lie.

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A 15 Minute Trip Around the World via the Internet

The best of the gods - Dionysus, god of theatre, grapes, and wine. Image from Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/71987294019717556/

The best of the gods – Dionysus, god of theatre, grapes, and wine. Image from Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/71987294019717556/

Weekly Web Links:

Historical Book Review for the Week:

I did have a book I was going to review – actually it’s the book I was going to review last week that got bumped after I got sucked into a different on, this book isn’t really having a great run – but this past week was the last week of this semester and I actually just submitted my final paper at somewhere around 11pm last night.  My brain is quite literally about to start leaking out of my ears at this point so I’ve decided to hold off on a book review this week out of fear that it might be made up entirely of incoherent nonsense.

 

The Pig War of 1859

Let me be completely honest, I 100% picked the topic for today’s post on the basis of the name.  Other known names for this conflict include:

  • the Pig Episode
  • the Pig and Potato War
  • the San Juan Boundary Dispute
  • the Northwestern Boundary Dispute

Essentially, this was a conflict between the United States and the British Empire over where the boundary should be located between the US and the British controlled British Columbia.  More specifically, the conflict was centered around which of these nations should have control of the territory known as the San Juan Islands which are placed between Vancouver Island and the western coast of the mainland of North America.

 

A map of the area where the San Juan Islands sit between Vancouver Island and Mainland North America.

A map of the area where the San Juan Islands sit between Vancouver Island and Mainland North America.

 

While the incident began (and was named) due to the shooting of a pig, there were no shots exchanged and no human casualties making this was a bloodless conflict – although I think that the pig might disagree.

The Oregon Treaty of 1846 had determined that the US and what would become B.C. were to be divided “along the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver Island, and thence southerly through the middle of the said channel, and of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to the Pacific Ocean.”

Great plan, teeny tiny problem.  there are actually two straits which could be considered the ‘middle of said channel’; Haro Strait to the west of the San Juan Islands or Rosario Strait which runs to their east.  Naturally, both sides of the agreement felt that the strait giving them the islands was the one identified in the treaty.  While this dispute was simmering away, the British Hudson’s Bay Company established operations on San Juan Island (yep, one of the San Juan Islands is named San Juan) by turning the island into a sheep farm.  This action was shortly after followed by 25-30 American settlers arriving on the island.

The Boundaries of the Pig War. Blue represents the U.S. preference, red that of the British, and green was a proposed compromise that didn't end up pleasing anyone.

The Boundaries of the Pig War. Blue represents the U.S. preference, red that of the British, and green was a proposed compromise that didn’t end up pleasing anyone.

All of this came to a head on June 15, 1859 when an American farmer who had come to live on the San Juan island found a large pig in his garden.  Frustrated by this pig eating his tubers he shot the pig, killing it instantly.  Unfortunately, this pig ended up belonging to an Irishman who was employed by the HBC to run their sheep ranch.  This incident between these two individuals escalated until a point where British authorities threatened to arrest the farmer and the American settlers responded by calling for military protection.

Now you might think, as I do, that this was already an over-dramatic reaction to the situation but just wait. It gets better. By August 1859 there were 461 Americans with 14 cannons facing off against 5 British warships which had a combined 70 guns and 2,140 men.  Despite all of this excessive posturing, no shots were fired.

To be fair, it is really pretty. Image from www.topratedtravel.net

To be fair, it is really pretty. Image from http://www.topratedtravel.net

Luckily, when news of this standoff reached London and Washington officials from both nations were understandably shocked and immediately took action to calm the situation.  It was determined that both sides would retain a joint military occupation of the island until a final settlement was reached.  Just in case you thought this was moving towards rationality, this joint occupation lasted for 12 years while both sides lobbied for supremacy.

The dispute was finally settled through international arbitration, with Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm I acting as arbitrator, in 1872 with the favour going to the United States.

This war is commemorated to this day in San Juan National Historical Park.

And one final map. Image form sanjuanems.org

And one final map. Image form sanjuanems.org

 

10 Facts – Atlin

Located in the Northwestern corner of British Columbia, on the shore of Atlin Lake, lies the town of Atlin.

The location of Atlin, way up in the top left corner of the map.

The location of Atlin, way up in the top left corner of the map.

As of 2004, the town was home to only 450 permanent residents.  However, despite having a small population, this town has some interesting historical facts so, without further ado, here are ten of them:

  1. The name Atlin comes from the Tlingit word Áa Tlein which means ‘big body of water’.

    I think the traditional name is fairly self-explanitory. Image from bcadayatatime.com

    I think the traditional name is fairly self-explanitory. Image from bcadayatatime.com

  2. The surrounding area has been used by inland Tlingit peoples for thousands of years and the town in currently home to the Taku River Tlingit First Nations.
  3. In 1898 the Atlin Gold Rush came to the Atlin Lake country and would prove to be one of the richest offshoots of the Klondike Gold Rush.

    An old image of one of the Atlin mining sties. Photo from hp.bccna.bc.ca.

    An old image of one of the Atlin mining sites. Photo from http://www.hp.bccna.bc.ca.

  4. As with many areas of British Columbia, the town was created as a direct result of this mining activity.
  5. During the 1920’s Atlin became a popular tourist destination for those who were seeking a more exotic, off the beaten track, vacation destination.

    Atlin, as it looked in 2012. Image from www-andrew-scott-ca.jpg

    Atlin, as it looked in 2012. Image from www-andrew-scott-ca.jpg

  6. At this time there was  no road to the settlement and so tourists were required to….travel up the Inside Passage along the B.C. Coast and the Alaska Panhandle then through a series of passes in Alaska finally followed by transportation through a series of lakes in Yukon and British Columbia….basically there would be a lot of ‘are we there yet’s’ happening.
  7. For the span of these ‘good years’ when mining activity and tourism were high, the town reached a peak population of roughly 10,000 people.

    Looking for gold? As of today, total gold found in the area amounts to approximately  $23,000,000. Photo from  www-therooster-ca.jpg

    Looking for gold? As of today, total gold found in the area amounts to approximately $23,000,000. Photo from www-therooster-ca.jpg

  8. During the time of the Great Depression, tourism levels fell into a steep decline and the White Pass and Yukon Route was shut down; effectively isolating the town from the rest of the province.
  9. Up until 1950, when the Atlin Road was built by the Canadian Army, the town was reached overland by way of two separate lake steamers with a two mile rail line connecting them.
  10. Today the town still sees most of its economic input from a combination of mining activities and tourism.

    The town in 2007. Photo from www.nativejournal.ca

    The town in 2007. Photo from http://www.nativejournal.ca

A 15 Minute Trip Around the World via the Internet

A mural of the god Typhon from Tuscany, Italy.  Image from Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/71987294019683127/

A mural of the god Typhon from Tuscany, Italy. Image from Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/71987294019683127/

Weekly Web Links:

Historical Book Review for the Week:

Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How it Drives Civilization by Stephen Cave

Immortality by Stephen Cave

I, as returning visitors to this blog may have noticed, read a lot of historical non-fiction.  This means that, with the exception of some truly outlandish theories, most of what I read has at least parts which overlap with ideas and information that I have accumulated over the years.  This is in no way a bad thing, it just means that when I find a completely new take or concept of something I tend to get really excited.  This is my excuse for doing nothing other than read this book for 8 hours yesterday.  Seriously, I had a different book in mind to cover for today’s post and I was going to read this one over the upcoming week and talk about it next Sunday.  And yet here we are.

The author suggests that there are four central concepts of immortality which are universal ideas and have been interwoven into every culture throughout every period of history.  The four immortality concepts are the following:

  1. Staying alive
  2. Resurrection
  3. Soul
  4. Legacy

Through numerous historical examples this book shows how these four ideas have been interconnected and progressed through by various cultures and key individuals throughout the progress of human history.  Obviously, on the surface, the idea of immortality seems to be an ideal which we should all aspire to.  but the author is very careful to demonstrate the holes in logic and the negative results of what could happen if we ever did manage to live forever.  Finally, once he has finished destroying the likelihood of humans ever living forever, Stephen Cave asks what i believe is the most important question of all: can people learn to live without the comfort of these ideas and accept death as inevitable?