The mussie is a lake monster from Canadian folklore. It allegedly lives in the Muskrat Lake in Whitewater Region, near Cobden village, Renfrew County, Ontario.
The legend of the mussie reportedly originated in the early 1900s. However, some claim there were references to the monster in the early 17th-century writings of Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer who founded Quebec City in 1608.
Mussie is a pet name for the monster derived from Muskrat Lake.
The mussie lives in Muskrat Lake near Cobden village in the Ottawa Valley region. The lake, 75 miles northwest of Ottawa City, covers about 3,000 acres. It is a deep lake with an average depth of about 196 feet. The deepest point in the lake is about 210 feet.
According to locals, there are multiple schools of thought about the creature.
One school, championed by alleged eyewitness Donnie Humphries, describes the mussie as a serpentine creature. It is a sharp-toothed, three-eyed, Nessie-like lake monster with three horse-like ears.
Another school of thought, closely aligned with the first, proposed it is a giant version of a seal or walrus (Rupert Matthews, 2011) with greyish skin and one long tusk-like teeth (some say a pair).
A third school compares it to a sturgeon.
The mussie is a Nessie-like lake monster
The three-eyed Nessie-like version of the monster is the favorite among locals. It is about 24 feet long, with silverish, greyish, or greenish skin, three eyes, three ears, two legs, sharp teeth, and one oversized tooth. It has a fin in the middle of its back (John R. Colombo, 1999).
It has a long Nessie-like neck and a head that towers above the water when it rises to survey its surroundings.
Some local accounts suggest that only one monster lives in the lake, while others suggest there might be more than one.
However, proponents of the one-monster-in-the-lake theory haven’t reached a consensus on its gender.
Mussie origin story
Mussie origin stories promoted by the creature’s local proponents incorporate information from academic studies about the post-glacial origins of the Muskrat Lake.
Scientific studies found that Muskrat Lake formed after the ice sheets of the last ice age receded. The lake was initially part of the prehistoric Champlain Sea, which used to be an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean into the North American continent.
The modern-day Muskrat Lake is the remnant of the Champlain Sea after water levels dropped about 6,000 years ago.
According to folklore, the mussie entered the Champlain Sea from the Atlantic about 10,000 years ago. It made its home there and became permanently trapped in the region after the water levels dropped 6,000 years ago to create the Muskrat Lake.
The belief that the mussie has been living in Muskrat Lake for thousands of years led to the conclusion that it has a long lifespan.
But other accounts suggest a small family of monsters live in the lake. Thus, the modern-day residents descended from those who first arrived in the lake from the Atlantic Ocean about 10,000 years ago.
Mussie loves cattails
Some locals, including Donnie Humphries, claim the mussie is a herbivorous monster. It lives on cattails (family Typhaceae) growing on the marshy banks of the lake.
Local authorities exploit mussie’s fame to promote tourism. Depictions of the monster as a friendly herbivore are the regional mascot.
Tourists travel to Muskrat Lake to search for the three-eyed monster every year. But no one has provided evidence of its existence despite an offer of a million (Canadian) dollars to anyone who captured it.
Sightings and Tales
Reports of the mussie allegedly date back to 1916, according to historian John F. Robinson (John R. Colombo, 1999).
However, only a few living residents claim to have seen the monster. Donnie Humphries, a resident of Cobden, is the most famous of the exclusive group.
Samuel de Champlain
Some claim that the French pioneer and founder of Quebec City, Samuel de Champlain, wrote about mussie.
But there is no evidence he did. Champlain is only known to have written about noisy sea monsters living in the Grand Banks, southeast of Newfoundland on the North American continental shelf.
He complained in his writing that the screaming of the monsters kept him awake all night.
However, Samuel de Champlain’s name is historically associated with Muskrat Lake.
Champlain was one of the first European explorers to contact the Algonquin people who originally inhabited the region around the lake. He arrived on the banks of the lake on June 7, 1613, while searching for a route to Hudson Bay that would save mariners the risk of negotiating the Ottawa River rapids.
However, there is no evidence that the Algonquin told him about a monster in the lake, although the natives might have had legends about lake monsters.
Claims that Champlain had acknowledged mussie in his writing may be an attempt to enhance the creature’s prestige.
There used to be a welcome sign outside Cobden that showed a three-eyed Nessie-like version of the monster. The sign also showed Champlain standing on an elevation surveying the Muskrat Lake while holding his famous astrolabe.
Donnie Humphries: The hapyxelor
The first known reference to the creature dates back to 1916, according to the local historian John F. Robinson.
Donnie Humphries christened the monster Hapyxelor, but others started calling the creature mussie (John R. Colombo, 1999).
Humphries was one of the most ardent promoters of the mussie legend. He claimed to have sighted the creature munching on cattails on the river banks.
Michael Bradley and Deanna Theilmann-Beann
Some proponents of the mussie legend tried to obtain evidence of its existence.
In 1988, cryptozoologist Michael Bradley and Deanna Theilmann-Beann (co-authors of Holy Grail Across The Atlantic: The Secret History of Canadian Discovery and Exploration) searched for mussie using sonar technology (John R. Colombo, 1999).
The sonar survey on board the Nepenthe reportedly yielded sonar imagery claimed to show two serpentine creatures near the mouth of the Snake River at a depth of about 25 feet.
The alleged creatures were 10 feet long and had traits consistent with descriptions of mussie. Bradley concluded that something lived at the bottom of the lake, and it wasn’t a sturgeon.
He said the creatures moved with vertical undulations.
He later wrote about the sonar-assisted search of the lake bottom in his book More Than a Myth: The Search for the Monster of Muskrat Lake.
Searches by marine experts never found evidence of monsters.
However, in 2014, Humphries told the Ottawa Sun he believed a thorough search of the lake’s deep holes and uncharted bottoms would likely yield definitive evidence of the creature.
He added that a monster in Muskrat Lake was a “certain inevitability” because there was too much water in the lake and too many mysterious sounds and splashes not to have a monster in it.
|Other Name/s||The Monster of Muskrat Lake, hepaxalor, hapyxelor|
Where to find
Mysteries of Ontario, by John Robert Colombo (1999).
The Little Book of the Paranormal by Rupert Matthews (2010).
More Than a Myth: The Search for the Monster of Muskrat Lake by Michael Bradley (1989).
https://ottawasun.com/2014/07/27/the-story-of-muskrat-lake-monster, “The story of Muskrat Lake monster,” accessed on March 24, 2023.
Featured Image: The mussie is a Canadian lake monster allegedly native to the Muskrat Lake in Ontario. Pic credit: Pixabay