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.

Link to Next Post:   The Rush is on.
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.

Catfish

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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Comments (3)

  • Craig Patterson
    July 18, 2021 at 11:55 am |

    Thank you for sharing this. I grew up in Cold Lake (former town of Grand Centre) and we’d heard many stories over the years. Today I was talking to my Mom about the Kinosoo and I came to this article when I was searching images of the fish — I recall when I was in school in the 80s where was a photo supposedly taken (I think it’s the one of the ice fisherman above).

    • Harold McNeill
      July 25, 2021 at 1:23 pm |

      Glad you enjoyed Craig. It was fun researching and writing that particular post. It seems I was in school many years before you, the 1950s to be more precise. Cheers, Harold

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email: Harold@mcneillifestories.com)

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.