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Myths and Legends of the Okanagan: The Stories Behind The Mysteries

The Okanagan is a magical place home to some of North America’s most unusual creatures. From the little-known to the notorious, this region holds many secrets. These are creatures that are part myth, part legend, and part history.

The Okanagan is a region of British Columbia, Canada, that is surrounded by breathtaking mountain peaks, lush forests and beautiful lakes. Wander the area’s distinct landscapes, and you’ll discover some very intriguing stories. Although some of them may seem a bit far-fetched, there have been locals and tourists alike to back up these claims. Here are some of the most fascinating Okanagan legends and stories about these odd creatures.

The Ogopogo Lake Monster - Kelowna, Okanagan Lake, BC

Perhaps thought of as a cousin to the legendary Loch Ness Monster, the Okanagan’s own lake serpent was named Ogopogo by English settlers in the early 1900’s after its name was adapted from the Haida legend of N’ha-a-itk or Naitaka or “lake demon”. The serpent-like creature that roams the depths of the lake is said to be up to 50 feet long with dragon-like features and a tongue forked like a snake. Some say the Ogopogo could be a decedent of the extinct marine dinosaur plesiosaur, which remains have been found on the floors of oceans worldwide.

There is even an English music-hall song about the Ogopogo with lyrics:

“His mother was an earwig, His father was a whale; A little bit of head And hardly any tail— And Ogopogo was his name.” In the 1980s a local tourism company caused tourists to flock to Kelowna in the hopes of catching a glimpse not only for themselves but for a million dollar cash reward for anyone who could prove its existence.

There have been countless sightings and video footage from the Okanagan and Kelowna area of mysterious waves that appear on the lake in a strange formation that keeps the magic alive of the dragon-like serpent. It’s for this reason that we think being up in the parasail would be the perfect opportunity for a sighting of the Ogopogo! Imagine staring down on the shadowy waters of the Okanagan and seeing a glimpse of the giant creature beneath you? Epic! Just be sure to capture it on camera, or your friends may not believe you!

The Shuswaggi – Shuswap Lake, BC

Another strange creature that you might not have heard about is also known to be lurking around the depths of the Okanagan near Shuswap Lake. The Shuswaggi (which translates to “Water Bear”) has been described in many ways including serpentine with snake-like with grayish-green skin, similar to an eel with a body nearly 30ft long. While others have said it resembles a large, furry mammal like a bear. The one thing in common is the disturbance of water and waves that it creates and local boaters’ mysterious encounters.

The Sasquatch - Harrison Hot Springs, BC

Everyone’s heard of the good ol’ Sasquatch, Big Foot or Yeti that has been known to wander the woods of the Great White North. But its origins have been discovered within indigenous cultures across the region and early settlers folklore. The dark, woolly, ape-like creature with large footprints also has a history in and around Harrison Hot Springs, BC where his statue welcomes visitors to the resort town.

Many people believe that these legendary stories and myths are what keeps the mystery alive in these popular areas of British Columbia. What’s your favourite spooky tale from the area? Have you experienced any unexplained encounters or sightings of any of these creatures? We’ll keep you posted if we catch a glimpse of anything from our parasail boat!


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