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STRANGE TALES

The Lake Scugog Sea Monster

The 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Mr. 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.

Burial 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 150 bodies.

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 feet."

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."

Gruesome Discovery

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 disturbed.

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 Edward Burton.

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