Big Kinosoo – Monster Fresh Water Fish in Canada – Chapter 2 of 6

Written by Harold McNeill on January 20th, 2010. Posted in Adventure

Big Kinosoo

This Big Kinosoo Graphic is copied and modifited from the original on the cover of “Treasured Scales of the Kinosoo” a biographical/pictoral history of pioneer familes who settled in Cold Lake during the last century. The book was edited by Laura Dean Skarsen.

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Link to Last Post: The Big Kinosoo
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Monster Freshwater Fish of Canada

It was not until I moved from Victoria to Vancouver in 1965 to complete training at the Vancouver Police Academy, that I first realized the Big Kinosoo might not be the only large fish to ply the fresh water lakes and rivers of Canada.

Giant White SturgeonOne day I happened to be reading an article in one of the Vancouver papers about a group of fisherman having caught a giant fish in the Fraser River somewhere near Chilliwack.  The fish, a White Sturgeon, weighed in at close to 1000 lbs (453 kgs) and took several hours to land.

My thoughts raced back to Cold Lake and the big Kinosoo. I also recalled there was a river north of Edmonton, the Sturgeon River, and wondered if it might contain or might have once contained similar giants.

I did no further research at that time as my life was headed in other directions and it was not until long after I retired that my thoughts again returned to the Big Kinosoo. The web provided a wonderful search tool and, sure enough, I was able to come up with number of photos of giant fish that can be found right here in Canada.

While there will always be skeptics who doubt the existence of Big Kinosoo, frequent reports of sightings and of confrontations with that big fish beg the question of what lurks in the depths of Cold Lake. I doubt these stories are just the product of overactive imaginations of a few fishermen who may have stayed a little to late in one of the Cold Lake beer parlours.

Many of the large freshwater fish of which I found pictures on the web are certainly capable of swallowing a man whole or taking down a good sized boat as did the great white in “Jaws”. It is not a inconceivable that a giant fish in Cold Lake could be capable of stripping a net from its anchor or pulling a downrigger from a sport fishing boat. Does the fish in the following photo not look strikingly like artistic drawings of the Big Kinosoo?

Fish from Ice Hole

Photo (unknown source) c1930s: This startled Cold Lake commercial fisherman got more than he bargained for when a Kinosoo type fish swallowed the large rock he used to pull down his gill net. Suddenly the giant fish surged up through the ice hole then slid back down. It is clear the fish could certainly have swallowed the man or, for that matter, his horse.

It is a matter of fact that these giant fish exist and there is not one good reason to discount anecdotal evidence that at least one or more of these giants, perhaps not yet classified, lives in the depths of Cold Lake, one of the deepest lakes in Canada. Take a few minutes to view the pictures and to read the background stories on the web.  If you are a skeptic you might find that after reading you will be a little less inclined to dismiss the Big Kinosoo as a “myth” or “legend”. You might even be inclined exercise a bit more caution when navigating the waters of Cold Lake particularly around French Bay.

Victoria, BC
December 2009

Link to Next Post:   The Rush is on.
Link to Last Post: The Big Kinosoo
Link Back to Adventures Index

This man battles a giant fresh water fish known as the apiama or paiche. That such fish exist in the world today lends at least some credence to the story that just such a fish may have lived, and still lives in the depths of Cold Lake.


660 lb (300 kg) Catfish taken in a fresh water river.

Alligator Gar

Giant fresh water Alligator Gar

Ice Heave

 Photos above and below: Some believe heaves and open stretches of water such as that depicted above and below, result from warming and cooling spells during which the ice expands and contracts. Others, who have lived for many years in Cold Lake, suggest the more likely cause is a very large fish surging up from the depths and hitting the ice, then running an irregular pattern across the lake.  The sound made when these large fish strike against the ice, sound similar to thunder. Photos courtesy of Kaleb Casper.

Ice Heave




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  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold