Lake Scugog Sea Monster
legend of the Lake Scugog sea-monster may have been
conceived from the consumption of too much home-brewed
whisky, but it was given prominent coverage during
the summer of 1881.
story goes as follows: Three Port Perry men, Daniel
Ireland, Wm. Harper and P. Brown were out shooting
at Beaver Meadow Creek, along the shores of Lake
Scugog one afternoon in May 1881, when they suddenly
heard a loud splashing of the water.
Curiosity overcame them and they headed off to find
what was making all the noise. Within a few minutes,
to their horror, they were confronted by a sea-monster
of gigantic dimensions. They estimated the strange
creature to be about 20' long with large head and
eyes as big a saucers. It had legs as large around
as a man's thigh about two feet long, and the body
was described as being as big around as a flower
barrel. The men estimated the strange creature would
have weighed over 500 lbs.
Mr. Ireland is reported to have aimed his gun at
the beast and fired four shots, but the shells had
no effect and the monster submerged in the water
and disappeared. There were many skeptics and the
men were questioned as to how the monster made its
way into Lake Scugog.
editor of the local newspaper, as well as many of
residents who heard the story felt that the trio
had tipped the "bottle" a little too often
while out in the Scugog swamps.
Ireland, determined to keep his reputation returned
to hunt for the beast, but no trace of the sea-monster
could be found and it was never seen again.
Site Of 100 Skulls
On Friday, March 15, 1878 Joseph Baird, was out
gathering sap in the woods on his Seagrave area
farm, at Lot 17, Conc. 14, Reach Twp., when he discovered
a large depression in the surface of the ground.
It was circular in dimension, resembling the mouth
of an old well, but when he began to probe the area,
he came upon what appeared to be a burial site in
which had been interred the remains of an estimated
Excavation found the circular pit was about eight
feet in diameter and perhaps seven feet or more
in depth. In the pit, all the bodies had been laid
face downwards with their heads towards the outside
of the burial pit.
The discovery was reported in the newspaper and
the man who came across the site wrote: "when
I saw the place it presented the most ghastly sight
I ever witnessed. The mouth of the pit was bordered
with about 100 skulls while the bottom of the hole
presented literally one mass of bones."
The anonymous witness also reported that within
a few feet of the pit was found a mound eight feet
long, four feet wide and four feet above the surface
of the ground. Upon digging into the top of it a
row of stones was found about level with the ground,
and upon one of those being removed, a stick could
be quite easily run into the ground, three or four
It was speculated at the time that an Indian battle
had been fought here and that the bones found were
the remains of the slain. These burial sites were
known as an "ossuary."
One of the strangest events ever to be reported
in the early press took place in September 1877
when a gruesome discovery was made on the newly
acquired Property of William Byam, near Greenbank.
The Byams had been clearing their land of stumps
in preparation for the planting of crops, when one
large stump attracted his attention. The stump had
been inverted and stood out somewhat notably from
all the others. Mr. Byams, being a superstitious
man, became overwhelmed with fear and he could not
face the prospects of handling the stump alone.
So, he summoned his 15-year-old son John, and Edward
Burton, a young lay preacher at the Manchester Methodist
Church to take over the task.
By the time the two fearful souls made their way
to the field, twilight was rapidly approaching,
but they continued on their eerie trek and found
their way to the mysterious stump as darkness gathered.
When they began to investigate the stump, in order
to find a spot to apply leverage to move it, they
discovered a glimpse of a human bone. With a little
further investigation, it appeared that the bones
were part of a whole corpse.
The poor victim appeared to be a red-headed young
man. They quickly covered up their grisly discovery
and rapidly made their way to Manchester to gather
all the appropriate authorities and bring them to
the site. Along the way they stopped at various
homestead to inform them of the ghastly find. By
the time they arrived in Manchester, a large crowd
had gathered. Like a shock of electricity the alarm
spread over the entire village.
The local undertaker was summoned and he immediately
suggested that they all return to the site of the
poor victim. Even though it was almost 10 o'clock
in the evening, some 25 souls joined in the expedition
back to the Byam's property.
With the aid of lanterns and firebrand, they made
their way through the field in silence, and arrived
at the stump. No one had the courage to expose the
corpse, but finally after a lengthy debate, a volunteer
was found and given instructions about how to remove
the soil gently so that the corpse would not be
further disfigured. While the crowd circled the
stump, the volunteer with his spade gently and carefully
removed one small clump of soil at a time.
A deathly hush pervaded the scene until hair and
skin began to appear. A gasp! An exclamation of
horror and disgust! A few more shovel fulls and
there stretched before them, in all its serenity
lay the remains of a used up horse, grinning back
at them and seemingly somewhat annoyed at being
At that point the entire crowd, sensing the embarrassment
and the potential for ridicule at their gullibility,
quickly disappeared. When the reporter from The
Observer tried to interview citizens of Manchester
the following Monday, everyone had an alibi for
their absence from the morbid scene. Everyone, that
is, except poor William Byam and the young preacher