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Jack Knox: Come campaign time, monsters lurk everywhere

The pub was so dark, the only light coming from the TV over the bar, that I could barely make out the guy slumped over the table in the corner. Could see he had spilled his drink, though. The floor was damp.
Nettie Ross of Brandon, Man., took this shot of what area residents say is their famed sea serpent Cadborosaurus. We haven't heard much from him lately, though.

Jack Knox mugshot genericThe pub was so dark, the only light coming from the TV over the bar, that I could barely make out the guy slumped over the table in the corner.

Could see he had spilled his drink, though. The floor was damp.

The television was turned to the news, something about people way up in Alert Bay hearing strange howls and screams in the woods this summer. Non-human screams. Others had actually glimpsed the creature, too big and tall to be a person.

Could it be a sasquatch?

“Oh, give me a break,” said the darkened form in the corner of the bar.

The bartender narrowed her eyes in his direction, then turned to me: “Beer? We’ve got Blue Buck on tap, Molson’s Canadian, Kokanee….”

“Ha!” barked the man in the corner, so loudly that I jumped off my stool.

“Ignore him,” said the bartender. “He’s a got a thing about Kokanee.”

But the guy at the table kept going. “Nothing but a sell-out,” he muttered. “Beer commercials, beef jerky ads. Show some dignity, man. You’re a sasquatch, not Matthew McConaughey.”

The voice sounded familiar. I peered closer, saw the horse-like head, noticed the dampened floor once again. Of course. It all fell into place.

“Caddy,” I said. “It’s been a long time.”

“Of course it’s been a long time,” Cadborosaurus grumbled in reply. “That’s the whole point of being a mythical mystery monster. Not being seen. Unlike that media hound on the television.”

Cadborosaurus used to be a household name around here, mentioned in the same breath as Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman and the Loch Ness Monster.

He’s a sea serpent with all the classic Ogopogo features: horse head, elongated neck, a couple of vertical humps poking out of the water, flippers fore and aft. Known by a bunch of aboriginal names up and down the B.C. coast before picking up his current handle — Cadborosaurus willsi — when Archie Wills, the editor of the Daily Times, decided to make a big deal out of a local sighting in 1933.

“One morning things were dull in the newsroom of the Times,” Wills later wrote. “The police court reporter had returned from his beat without record of even a drunk.

“In his despair he blurted out: ‘A couple of guys say they have seen a sea serpent off Cadboro Bay. What about that for a headline?’ ”

And that was that, Caddy became world famous, big news in New York City, on the front page of the London Evening News. The legend grew as sightings poured in — 600 of them by 1960 — from credible people whose view wasn’t necessarily distorted by the bottom of a glass.

More recently, Caddy was featured on the Northern Mysteries TV series, and was the subject of a 1995 book, Cadborosaurus: Survivor From the Deep, by respected scientists Ed Bousfeld and Paul LeBlond. Kids in Saanich’s Gyro Park still frolic on a concrete Caddy built half a century ago.

Haven’t heard much from him lately though. Kind of like Scott Baio.

“I choose to maintain an aura of mystery,” sniffed Caddy, shifting at his table. “Unlike some so-called ‘monsters’ who choose to scream in the forest and throw themselves in front of the camera like Paris Hilton.”

It was hard to tell if that was anger speaking, or just jealousy.

“You know,” I said, “I could probably help you up your profile a bit…”

He looked at me as though I had just suggested he grow a second tail. “During an election campaign? Are you nuts?”

He had a point. Politicians need us to believe in monsters at election time. Need us to believe that they’re the only ones who can slay them. Mulcair, May and Trudeau paint Harper as a power-mad ideologue — stroking his cat like Dr. Evil — who must be stopped. Canada has a wobbly economy, starving polar bears and a federal debt that has risen $160 billion on his watch, yet Harper tries to convince us that the greatest threat is terrorists under the bed.

Meanwhile, a new poll shows 41 per cent of Americans like Republican Scott Walker’s idea of building a fence from sea to shining sea to keep out the Canadians, a bookend for the one Donald Trump wants with Mexico. From Adolf Hitler to Kim Jong-Un, history has no shortage of politicians who rose and clung to power by building a straw man to burn down. Fear is a wonderful vote-getter.

“One question,” I said. “All those hundreds of sightings, how come no one ever got an authenticated photograph of you?”

Caddy drained his beer, gave me a wink: “Long feared, but never proven, just like Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.”