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Memphre sighting in Newport


Barbara Malloy, a Newport City resident and local historian, said this week she saw Memphre the Lake Memphremagog monster on May 1.

Like Nessie in the Loch Ness of Scotland or Champ in Lake Champlain, Memphre is the stuff of local legend and history.

It's not the first sighting of the creature that many claim to have seen on this long international lake.

Area newspapers like The Stanstead (Quebec) Journal have recorded sightings of something big and elusive in the lake as far back as the 1840s. On Jan. 21, 1847, an eyewitness reported this: "I am not aware whether it is generally known that a strange animal something of a sea serpent ... exists in Lake Memphremagog."

But it was known long before that. According to historical accounts, American Indians told the first Europeans that there was something in the lake.

Malloy first saw it in the waters off Horseneck Island and again north of the island in 1983.

Memphre is believed to look somewhat like a plesiosaur, a water-living dinosaur of the Jurassic period, brown or black in color, with four fins or paddle-like feet, an elongated roundish body and a long neck. It ranges from 6 to 50 feet long. Popular drawings or artwork show his skin color as green, but that obviously depends on the eyewitness.

This time, Malloy said she saw a jet black hump in the water, which bobbed up and down and then disappeared. Malloy said Thursday another Newport resident confirmed the sighting, only she saw a larger and a smaller hump, but the woman did not wish to go public.

Others have come forward over the years to record their sightings with Malloy and other "dracontologists" like Magog, Quebec resident Jacques Boisvert who keep track of such mysteries in this 30-mile-long lake.

Boisvert named Lake Memphremagog's own sea serpent Memphre, which is pronounced with a long "e" at the end, suitable for use in French or English.

A monk at the monastery at St. Benoit-du-lac near Magog coined the term dracontologie for Boisvert. Dracontology, the English version, is a branch of cryptozoology, for all kinds of mysterious creatures of legend, like Big Foot.

The name even meets the requirements of the Quebec French Language Office, responsible preserving and protecting the French language in Quebec, Boisvert said Thursday.

Boisvert, a renowned diver and local historian, had never seen Memphre himself, but said he keeps an open mind. He and Malloy collaborated for a while in the 1980s on publicizing the Memphre legend and history.

Both collect sightings, and have Web sites to keep the information alive.

Malloy has a display of Memphre memorabilia and sighting information in the Emory Hebard state office building on Main Street in Newport City. Boisvert is heavily into promoting the use of Memphre as a tourist attraction in Magog, and speaks and writes regularly about the history of the lake.

Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz is into a little promotion of her own. She has a children's page off the state Web site, featuring drawings and information of both Memphre and Champ.

There have been attempts to photograph Memphre, but there is no definite evidence. Malloy took pictures in 1989, but they show a dark object sticking out of the water and making a wake. Discounters say these pictures could be of other things. One recent photograph turned out to be a moose swimming across the lake.

Yet the stories of Memphre capture and captivate the imagination. And it brings an air of mystery to this already lovely international lake.


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