Summer’s coming – will sightings of Caddy come too?

Wilfred Gibson sighted a strange animal "frolicking among the log booms" at Mill Bay and ran closer for a better look – leaving his camera in his car.

Spring’s almost here, meaning that summer, too, is almost around the corner with its

promise of – we hope – balmy weather for outdoor recreation and…a return of Cadborosaurus.

For many summers (although not for some time), Victoria’s fabled sea serpent, affectionately known as Caddy, frolicked off Cadboro Bay, inspiring legends, jokes and, thanks to an enterprising chamber of commerce, world-wide publicity.

To sceptics Caddy’s a myth, an illusion, a hoax. When they do grudgingly concede that the many creditable witnesses who’ve reported sighting Caddy may have seen something, they suggest floating logs, groups of sea lions or seals. The Royal B.C. Museum has credited such sightings to "bull sea lions".

All of which is quite probable, of course. But is it not also possible that sea serpents do exist? Most experts in the relevant fields of biology, ichthyology and oceanography readily admit that the world’s oceans retain mysteries yet. Why not Caddy? According to Indian legend, Caddy’s origin dates back to when "Vancouver Island first emerged from the sea". At that period the Island’s sole inhabit was a beautiful Indian maiden, Cadboro; she was so lovely that the gods preserved her from "the touch of men". But a reckless brave named Saurus wooed and won Cadboro and they eloped by canoe for the Olympic Mountains.

Whereupon the angered god of air and water transformed himself into a giant eagle, swooped down and carried off Cadboro. For punishment, he turned her to stone – Victoria’s Gonzales Hill. In turn, Saurus was made a sea serpent and "banished for a billion years to the depths of the ocean".

Okay, not very scientific if entertaining. As for Cadborosaurus, the credit for that double-barrelled moniker goes to the 1930s managing editor, Archie Wills (ergo Cadborosaurus willsi), of the Victoria Daily Times. For years, the Times offered a standing reward of $300 for a "legitimate" photo of Victoria’s very own serpent.

The first reported sighting of Caddy is that of seaman James F. Murray who was fishing off the Victoria breakwater in the fall of 1928. Caddy, said Murray, "moved fast, at about eight knots, 25 yards from me, then submerged and came up seemingly only seconds later almost a mile away." One of the most credible encounters occurred on Oct. 5, 1933 when the clerk of the legislature, Maj. W.H. Langley, and Fred Kemp of the Provincial Archives, swore they’d seen the monster. The same month, a telegraph lineman working between Jordan River and Port Renfrew claimed to have shot a serpent. He said that when struck in the head by his .30.30 slug, it thrashed wildly, thrust its head 15 feet above the surface and paddled off.

Prior to 1959, no fewer than 600 people reported sighting the mysterious creature. But no valid photos were taken although well-known public school photographer Wilfred Gibson came close. He sighted a strange animal "frolicking among the log booms" at Mill Bay and ran closer for a better look – leaving his camera in his car.

Another obstacle to obtaining a photograph is the condition of the witness, as explained by a Cdr. Clayards. At the time of his encounter with Caddy, he was security officer at Esquimalt Naval Base. He said, "I don’t mind admitting that I was terrified, especially when he snapped his jaws. If I had had a camera, I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have been able to use if as I was so [trans]fixed by the strange sight…"

Either Caddy has an itchy fin and travels about or he has numerous relatives, as similar creatures have been reported around the world. Several other parts of Vancouver Island and B.C. have claimed their own serpents (including Shawnigan and Cowichan lakes), the most famous of these "impostors" being Kelowna’s Ogopogo, said to inhabit Okanagan Lake. He/she answers to the same description as Caddy, as reported by dozens of "sober and reputable" persons who sighted it in one two-year period alone.

In February 1953, the Colonist reported, "Qualicum Bay embraces personal private monster." Nicknamed Qually (for Qualicum Baysaurus, of course), it was first sighted in 1951. For three successive years, it appeared about springtime and was seen by "30 or 50" people each time.

Robert Milne said he’d viewed the monster each time, once from as near – almost too near – as 20 yards. "From a distance it looked black, but from nearer at hand it looked a tawny colour. When I was out in the boat, I got a good look at it. It looked like a serpent of some kind. It was twisting and squirming about, sometimes under water, sometimes above. Its head was small in proportion to its body. The thickest part of the body seemed just about the width a man could reach his arms around. At a rough estimate, I’d say it was 30 or 40 feet long.

"It wasn’t a seal. I go fishing every day, and I’ve seen lots of seals. It wasn’t a sea lion, or any animal I’ve ever seen or read about. If I hadn’t seen it myself, I’d still be sceptical," he concluded.

But no photographs. Months later, it seemed that Caddy had literally come to the end of his rope. The Vancouver seine boat Naceda had docked with "seven feet and 1,000 pounds of something". Described as having "neither tale nor scales and covered with a rough elephant-like skin," the monster had become entangled in the vessel’s net near Port San Juan, on the Island’s west coast.

(To be continued) www.twpaterson.com

Just Posted

CVRD Area E director Alison Nicholson, right, hiked two hours to Waterfall Camp at the Fairy Creek watershed along with Comox town councillor Nicole Minion and Comox Valley Regional District director Daniel Arbour to meet with old-growth logging activists on Monday, June 7. (Submitted)
Cowichan Valley regional director visits Fairy Creek protest camps

‘They clearly communicated that they are committed to what they are doing’

Tim Wilkinson, who will attempt a double anvil triathlon on Vancouver Island on July 3, poses with his training partner, Shadow, who has been dragged up and down the Nanaimo Parkway many times. (Submitted)
Vancouver Island triathlete takes on ‘double anvil’ for charity

7.6km swim, 360km bike ride, and 84.4km run, all within 36 hours

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

From left: Thomas Kuecks, David Lane, John Ivison, Denis Berger, Rod Gray, and James Kuecks are Cabin Fever. Catch their performance on the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre website. (Ashley Foot photo)
A&E column: Music Festival winners, CVAC awards, and Cabin Fever

The latest from the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Seth Rogan’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit, and it’s one that’s paying off

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. The website for a Broadway theatre showing "Springsteen on Broadway" said it would only allow guests "fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine" — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
No Springsteen for you: AstraZeneca not good enough to qualify for Broadway ticket

Victoria area mayor among those unable to attend New York entertainment due to COVID-19 restriction

The BC Ferries’ website is down for the second time in one week from what they say is likely an overwhelming increase in web traffic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Surging web traffic crashes BC Ferries’ site again

Website down for second time this week

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
PODCAST: John Furlong lays out a ‘provincial’ B.C. plan to host the 2030 Winter Olympics

Podcast: Chat includes potential role for Vancouver Island communities

Most Read