Ogopogo: Search for the storied serpent
Ogopogo was the second tourist blessing bestowed on British Columbia’s Okanagan region, after the great, sun-dappled lake dropped strategically between Vancouver and Calgary, drawing beach-seekers and boaters from B.C. and the prairies. (The wineries came third.) Some people, a lot of people, believe Ogopogo dwells in the waters here, skulking deep beneath the surface, poking a rump or a head up only briefly, and occasionally, enough to tease. Others just recognize a good commercial opportunity when they see one.
Of course Kelowna’s touring parade float features a smiling, frog-faced Ogopogo. Souvenir shops off the beach hock everything from T-shirts and teaspoons featuring the fabled lake monster to salt-and-pepper shakers, colouring books, beer cozies, stuffed dolls, and green jellybeans labeled Ogopogo Poop. Local amateur sports teams bear its name. Downtown, a car-sized sculpture of the scaly sea-dragon with the goat-like face has been clambered on by local and vacationing children for generations.
“I’m not happy with that statue,” says Mr. Steciuk, his brow slightly furrowing. He asks not to be photographed near it. “It is what it is. But it’s not a true replica of what the serpentine form [of Ogopogo] looks like.” Still, he says, “I certainly can’t blame the city of Kelowna for advertising it.” (Photo: Gerald Vander Pyl/Postmedia)