Doukhobors and Ogopogo A Geography Lesson, Published 12 September 1932Leaving the strawberry country behind. the Kettle Valley, when heading for Nelson crosses over the foot of Kootenay Lake. Until two years ago it was necessary for everybody to ferry up the lake and get on another train, but the CPR. has scooped out a one-track ledge along the west shore of this mountain-girt lake, and through tunnels and over fills on the cliff-gouged right-of-way, the train went. Since the track is just about two years old. No. 2594 was only good for about 20 mile an hour, and I don't believe I'd have cared if the engineer had halved that speed. I know of no place where a train remains almost inches from a lake for so long a period.
You go along the west shore in the shade, and watch the clouds and sun play hide and seek with the snowcaps across the lake. Then you get a diffused effect of the same scene on the water, and I was sorry when we swung west and speeded up on our way into Nelson.
* * *
At Nelson I met an old Ottawa boy Dr Wilfrid Laishley, who is now a successful specialist there. In a hasty motor tour of the town, he pointed out to me his lovely home and flowers and lawn, and then took me down to see the Doukhobors.
After their nudist outburst, the "Douks" were locked up and clothed. However, the gentlemen of the Universal Christian Brotherhood did not want to escape, and they had no larger force keeping an eye on those hundreds of sun bathers than the sheriff woud keep to watch a jury. It was noticeable, however, that while there few barriers between the "Douks" and the outside world, there were high barbed barriers between the men and the women.
We got a new engine at Nelson and the 3646 took us over three heights of land before midnight, the best mileage we could accomplish being 76 miles. In the morning we awoke over 4,000 feet above sea level. How we got up there I'll never tell you. How we got down again is quite a story crossing a famous old wooden trestle at three miles an hour - we had got a new engine again - and later, having passed a young deer which was looking wistfully at some celery I was eating in the diner, I saw a lake far, far below me. Don't think I am writing the "far, far" just for effect. That, darned lake was over half a mile below altltudinally, and was more than an hour and a half travel by train. It looked somethine you see in a mirage. It was Okanagan Lake; it was the home of the Ogopogo.
* * *
The train as it gets close runs past the lake at about 3,500 feet, then doubles back at the 2,500-foot mark, and just to make sure everybody gets a good squint at Okanagan Lake and Valley, it slides along a third time at 1,500 feet. Penticton, where we finally alighted - and that's the right word on a trip like that - is 1,132 feet above sea level.
Now I suppose you want to know what Ogopogo looks like. I saw him nibbling at the paddle wheel of a steamboat, far out the quay, and since I was the only one who would venture a quarter mile away from the train in five minutes, I believe I was the onlv one to see him.
Ogopogo has a head slightly reminiscent of Henry VIII, he has a torso like an accordeon. and a tail like a shillelagh. Ogopogo is of course a celibate, because he lost his wife in the Carboniferous Age, and after the customary dinosaur 1,000-year of mourning, was once more seen about again. Therefore, his likeness to King Hal stops with the facial mien. The tail has a knob on it with which he could drive logs like a pile drive if he liked, but he uses it mainly as a divining rod, to locate old razor blades, with which steamer paddle wheels, form his sole diet.
* * *
Ogopogo with his razor blades is therefore not only a disturbing factor to all compasses in the Penticton region, causes considerable radio static. He has a marsupial pouch, in which he carries spare teeth, tasty little snacks of paddle wheel bits, and invisible smoke. Thus. when anyone with a camera gets nearby, his highly sensitized frame tells him there is an intruder around, and if there is anything Ogopogo hates, it is a camera or a scientist. He would sooner be in a myth than a museum, and thus he emits the invisible smoke. That is why the natives can see him all the time, while no scientist or camera has ever clamped natural or artificial eye on him.
* * *
Changing engines once more, the train started off to cross another height of land, and the climb up past the Penticton government exerimental farm to Osprey Lake, one half mile higher up in 40 linear miles, was the fifth time we had tackled a mountain range, and gone over the 3,000 foot mark. I never saw a line which would have you away down in a valley one minute, and sweltering in the heat, and then see you an hour later, tapping your feet to keep warm half a mile higher in altitude. However the biggest thrill of all was right ahead, for the Coquihalla Canon had yet to be conquered. No train had been through it since February, and we were to try the toughest pass in the Rockies that very afternoon.