Mermaids: A Monster in Lake Superior, 1782 – Fall 1971

The Great Lakes… 84% of the continent’s fresh water… a different story in every drop.

By David-Dougald

In 1824 the Canadian Magazine printed the deposition of Venant St. Germain, a fur trader for the Northwest Company:

Isle Pate – Pie Island

“Appeared before us, Judges of the Court of King’s Bench for the District of Montreal, Vincent Venant St. Germain, Esquire, of Repentigny, Merchant and Voyageur, who being sworn on the Holy Evangelists sayeth: That in the year 1782, on the 3rd of May, when on his return to MICHILIMACKINAC from the Grand Portage, he arrived at the mouth of the Isle Pate Pie Island, near Fort William, Lake Superior, where he formed his encampment to stop for the night. That a little before sunset, the evening being clear and serene, deponent was returning from setting his nets and reached his encampment a short time after the sun went down. That on disembarking, the deponent happened to turn towards the lake, when he observed, about an acre or three quarters of an acre distant from the bank where he stood, an animal in the water, which appeared to him to have the upper part of its body, above the waist, formed exactly like that of a human being. It had the half of its body out of the water, and the novelty of so extraordinary a spectacle excited his attention and led him to examine it carefully. That the body of the animal seemed to him about the size of that of a child of seven or eight years of age, with one of its arms extended and elevated in the air. The hand appeared to be composed of fingers exactly similar to those of a man; and the right arm was kept in an elevated position, while the left seemed to rest upon the hip, but the deponent did not see the latter, it being kept under the water.

“The deponent distinctly saw the features of the countenance which bore an exact resemblance to those of the human face. The eyes were extremely brilliant; the nose small but handsomely shaped; the mouth proportionate to the rest of the face; the complexion of a brownish hue, … the ears well formed and corresponding to the other parts of the figure. … The animal looked the deponent in the face, with an aspect indicating uneasiness, but at the same time with a mixture of curiosity; and the deponent, along with three other men who were with him at the time, and an old Indian woman, to whom he had given a passage in his canoe, attentively examined the animal for the space of three or four minutes … An animal similar to that which deponent described, had been seen by another voyageur on another occasion when passing from Pate to Tonnerre; the deponent thinks the frequent appearance of this extraordinary animal in the spot has given rise to the superstitious belief among the Indians, that the God of the Waters had fixed upon this for his residence. …

“And further the deponent saith not.

“Sworn before us, 13th November, 1812.

(Signed) Venant St. Germain

(Signed) P. L. Benet, J. K. B.

  1. Odgen, J. K

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