Caddy, King Of the Coast
A sea serpent that’s as real as the flying saucer and just as harmless still churns the Pacific for its favored fans
THE Cadborosaurus (Caddy for short), a fearsome sea serpent with a pan on him that would stop Big Ben, is the beloved pet of the entire citizenry of Victoria, including an expert on marine biology who down deep in his heart knows that Caddy is no more real than a flying saucer.
Since Caddy first reared his ugly head out of the sea 17 years ago at least 500 people, including sea captains and a judge, have reported seeing him. And every last man of them, the judge included, is willing to swear under oath that Caddy is real and alive.
They maintain Caddy is a great snakelike monster, measuring anywhere from 35 to 110 feet in length, with a head on him like a camel’s. The one sure way to insult these people is to suggest, even vaguely, that Caddy is not real. “I saw him with my own eyes” is their clinching argument.
Most scientists, and many of Victoria’s less imaginative citizens, are convinced that the serpent is really nothing more than three or four sea lions traveling in single file or, perhaps, an elephant seal. Yet even some of the scientists think Caddy is a wonderful character to have on the loose.
Foremost among these, even though he is downright sceptical about the existence of sea monsters, is Dr. Clifford Carl, a biologist and expert on sea life who is director of the provincial museum at Victoria.
“I’m all for Caddy myself,” says Dr. Carl. “I don’t want to see him (or her, or it, or them) exposed. And if Caddy by some strange chance does actually exist it would he a pity to capture him, stuff him and put him on view in some museum.”
Real or not, everybody loves Caddy. On that score alone the beast justifies his existence. Best of all he is no fair-weather friend. Indeed he possesses^ the uncanny knack of timing his appearances to coincide with Victoria’s moments of deepest despair, as though he is quite aware that he can help dispel the gloom.
“Caddy’s a psychologist,” remarks Archie Wills, managing editor of the Victoria Times, who helped name the beast and who has been his Boswell ever
“It’s significant,” adds Wills, “that Caddy made his first appearance in 1934 at the very depth of the depression. We certainly needed distraction then.”
During the war Caddy nearly always picked the precisely correct psychological moment to raise his ugly head. And his most recent series of appearances came last February when Victoria was in the grip of a record cold spell that threatened to freeze the brass door knobs off the Empress Hotel.
Caddy does everything but breathe fire. Those who have seen him say he’s the most unforgettable character they’ve ever met.
Listen to this bizarre description of the monster given several years ago by one Jack Nord, who encountered Cadborosaurus near Oyster River, off the east coast of Vancouver Island.
“He was about 100 to 110 feet long. His body was about two and a half feet in diameter. His head was as large as a draft horse’s, hut it looked more like a camel’s. He had fangs in his mouth, six to eight inches long. His eyes seemed to roll in their sockets, changing from a reddish color to green.
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Caddy, King of the Coast
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“He had whiskers under his jaw and a kind of mane from his forehead to the back of his head, looking like the teeth of a dragsaw. A fin on his back was raised to about three feet. From the water to the top of his head would be about seven feet. He was an ugly thing
Descriptions of Caddy vary considerably but most everyone agrees he’s built like a gigantic snake and that he undulates when he swims. Edward Heppell, a Victorian who has seen him, says his body is as thick as a telephone pole. That tallies with most descriptions.
Dark brown or dark green is his usual color but one man, L. Tillapaugh, said he was bright orange. But then he saw Caddy during a long week end.
Nearly all observers grant him at least one gigantic fin and a monstrous tail with which he thrashes the water. Now and then he seems to have a long mane. Captain George Sagers, a Vancouver Island fisherman, reported the monster had a mane and pitchblack eyes about three inches in diameter.
This sea serpent is almost supersonic. F. W. Kemp, one of the first two men to report seeing him, told me, “I wouldn’t like to say how fast he travels, people might laugh.” But he added under persuasion, “Only a bullet would travel anywhere near as fast!”
Cyril B. Andrews described Caddy as having no ears or nostrils. His tongue, said Andrews, came to a sharp point and he had fishlike teeth. Andrews, incidentally, had the presence of mind to rush ashore and fetch a justice of the peace to the water front to corroborate his story. Then he swore out an affidavit describing his experience. It told how Caddy had swallowed in one gulp a duck he (AndrewsI had shot. Other hunters have reported similar poaching.
“Gives You a Queer Feeling”
Yet another report suggests Caddy may be asthmatic. J. F. Murray said he could hear the monster breathing at a distance of 25 yards. A more explicit observer heard “a very loud and remarkable noise, something between a grunt and a snort, accompanied by a huge hiss.”
All of Caddy's friends agree on at least one point: his head is shaped much like a camel’s. But whereas most camels simply sneer superciliously, Caddy frowns frighteningly.
But, really Caddy is good-natured and quite harmless, a Milquetoast monster in fact. About all he ever does is stretch his long neck out of the water and stare at anybody who happens to be staring at him. Then he beetles off at high speed or else dives, always “without a ripple.”
Those who behold Caddy are transfixed. “Gives you a queer feeling, he does,” says Fred Maycock, who sighted him recently when with Ed Heppell. “Ed gave me a nudge and said, ‘Look!’ ” Maycock recalls, “and from then until Caddy submerged and disappeared neither of us spoke a word. You can’t speak when you see him!"
The world’s most hopeless task undoubtedly is trying to convince those who claim to have seen Caddy that what they saw wasn’t a sea serpent at all hut, at best, only three or four son lions playing follow-the-leader.
I talked to a dozen people who claim to have seen Caddy. I’ve had letters from several others and I’ve read the statements of at least 30 more in the newspapers
All of them stated without a shred of qualification that what they saw could not possibly have been anything else but a sea serpent.
Fred Maycock, the first man I spoke to who claimed to have seen Caddy, told me, in a voice bristling with contempt for the sceptics, “Whenever 7 read about people seeing Caddy I used to say ‘What’ve they been drinking'.’’ But I won’t any more. I will always believe them now. I’ve seen Caddy with my own eyes. I know he exists. And he is not a bunch of sea lions or porpoises or a bumpy log. He’s a sea serpent.”
I shall let Maycock remain as the spokesman for the whole group of Caddy observers for the others I interviewed said what he said, using almost exactly the same words and with the same positive conviction.
Like a Monstrous Snake
Caddy lovers, and particularly those who had seen him in the flesh, were in a mood bordering on sheer ecstasy at the time of my visit to Victoria last March. For, just a month previously, Caddy, had been seen by the Chief Justice of Saskatchewan’s King’s Bench, James T. Brown.
Sunday, February 5, 1950, the day of Caddy’s appearance before His Lordship, will forever remain a red-letter day in the life and times of the beloved sea serpent.
Chief Justice Brown’s description of Caddy and the circumstances surrounding his appearance follow precisely the pattern of almost every other account.
“There was no question about the serpent—it was quite a sight,” Brown told newspapermen. “I’d think the creature was 35 to 40 feet long. It was like a monstrous snake. It certainly wasn’t any of those sea animals w.e know, like a porpoise, sea lion and so on. I’ve seen them and know what they look like.
“Along about 3 p.m. Sunday, a clear sunny afternoon,” he continued, “we (his wife and daughter were with him i were walking along by a Victoria beach. Mrs. Brown saw the monster first. By the time my daughter and I got our eyes sighted on the spot he had disappeared, but then he came up again about 150 yards from shore.
“His head, like a snake’s, came out of the water four or five feet and straight up. Six or seven feet from the head one of his big coils showed clearly. The coil itself was six or seven feet long, fully a foot thick, perfectly round and dark in color. There must have been a great length of him under the
“He was swimming very fast for he came up 200 to 300 yards away from the spot where he went under each time. You couldn’t follow his trail. We watched when he went under but couldn’t spot any ripples.
“I got three good looks at him. On one occasion he came up almost right in front of us.”
Hack home in Kegina, Brown was ribbed mercilessly, but like everyone else who has seen Caddy he refused to be shaken in his story. In fact, he made a sketch of Caddy and sent it to a Vancouver reporter “as further con.rmation” of his story. Under the sketch he wrote, “This is no lie!”
This was the moment of supreme triumph for Caddy and it was fitting that a jurist should be responsible for it. For the CadboroaauruH legend owes its origin mainly to Major W. H. Langley, a Victoria barrister and, at the time he saw Caddy, clerk of the B. C. legislature.
One Sunday in October 1933 Iengley and his wife returned to the Victoria Yac it Jluh from a sail in the
Dorothy off the southern tip of Vancouver Island to report they had seen a strange monster in the sea.
Someone tipped off Archie Wills, then news editor and now managing editor of the Victoria Times, and he dispatched a reporter, Ted Fox, to get Langley’s story.
“I found out,” Fox recalls, “that another man, F. W. Kemp, who worked in the provincial archives, had seen a similar beast about a year previously.
I interviewed both Kemp and Langley.
I had a heck of a time persuading them to let me use their names in the paper. They were sure they would be ridi-
Next day the Times splashed the seaserpent story across the front page and Caddy was born, though he had yet to be named.
Then came a deluge of reports from people who claimed to have seen Caddy before either Kemp or Langley. Fox investigated almost all of these and found that the people were invariably sincere. They had kept silent out of fear of ridicule.
Fox and Wills kept the story hot and were bombarded by queries from newspapers all over the world. Their unnamed monster was becoming famous.
A Circus Was Interested
They were consequently delighted a few days later when the Grace liner Santa Lucia, out of New York, docked in Victoria and her master, Captain Walter N. Prengel, and his first officer, A. E. Richards, reported they had seen a sea serpent off Vancouver Island. “The creature’s head was as large as my cabin,” the captain said.
It occurred to Wills then that if the sea serpent were to be kept alive he would most certainly need a name. He asked his readers for suggestions. From hundreds Wills selected Cadborosaurus. “Sounded so imposing, so prehistoric,” he says, “and, best of all, it could be shortened to Caddy.”
What’s it stand for? The first part, Cadboro, is after Cadboro Bay where the creature was so often reported seen. The saurus is just a bit of pseudoscientific flimflam.
Wills won’t say who actually suggested Cadborosaurus but Fox and other Victoria newspapermen claim the name was coined and submitted to the Times by the late Richard L. Pocock, then telegraph editor of the rival paper, the Daily Colonist. The Colonist, incidentally, tried to popularize the name Amy but couldn’t make it stick.
Caddy owes much to Wills who laid down a rule for his reporters that no reports of a Caddy appearance would be printed unless the person who claimed to have seen him would allow his name to be used. This helped greatly to bolster Caddy’s chances of final acceptance as an authentic sea serpent.
And, generally speaking, Victoria willingly accepts him as authentic.
The spoil-sport scientists are exceptions. A Caddy debunker on the grand scale is Dr. Ian McTaggart Cowan, professor of zoology at University of British Columbia.
“On two occasions I saw what was
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reported to be Caddy,” says Cowan. “In each case Caddy consisted of a bull sea lion with two others following it.
I must admit they looked convincingly like a sea serpent and you could hardly blame an untrained person for not recognizing them as sea lions. Each time the papers came out next day with reports that Caddy had been
At other times, Cowan believes, elephant seals have been mistaken for Caddy. “It’s strange that Caddy has been seen by so many people, from judges to captains,” he remarks, with a wry smile, “but never by a biologist.”
Even the friendly Dr. Clifford Carl can’t quite swallow Caddy. “As a scientist,” he says, “I have to maintain an open mind, but I can’t believe in him until I’ve seen him. Nothing would please me more than to see him.”
No real attempt has ever been made to capture Caddy, though in 1946 a syndicate was formed for that express purpose by A. K. McMartin, of Vancouver. At the time Vancouver was preparing for the celebration of its diamond anniversary and McMartin hoped to make Caddy the star attrac-
He proposed to the Parks Board that it enter into a profit-sharing scheme with the syndicate to exhibit Caddy, if caught alive, in one of the city’s outdoor swimming pools. The board ignored the proposition.
McMartin insists he was in earnest and that he hasn’t given up hope of capturing the monster. His plan was, and still is, to offer fishermen on the B. C. coast rewards for radioing him the moment they sight Caddy. McMartin would then fly to the spot, nab ! the beast in a huge net and have him ¡ towed ashore.
“We’d have done it in 1946. but the fishermen went out on strike,” he says. “We’ll capture him yet. And when we do he’ll travel with Ringling Brothers’ Circus. Waldo Y. Tupper, the circus’ general agent, who is a friend of mine, is all for taking Caddy.”
But Caddy in a circus! Victorians wouldn’t stand for it. To understand 1 how deep is the city’s affection for the beast you’ve only got to recall the time he was reported slain.
One spring day in 1943 the Victoria newspapers shrieked, “Caddy is dead!” Two sport fishermen boasted of having killed him with a power launch until he sank.
A Medal From Hermann?
Exactly two weeks after his reported demise the monster was sighted once again in his old haunts, alive and kicking. In the years since then he has been seen umpteen times.
But during the two sad weeks that Caddy was believed to be dead both the Times and the Colonist received many letters of outraged protest. Victoria was shocked (“Up in arms,” shrilled the Times). The correspondents denounced the slayers’ cruelty and wrote reverently of the beast’s good nature. One writer went so far i as to describe Caddy as beautiful.
Another suggested that Hermann Goering, a much decorated and particularly vile villain of the time, might be persuaded to part with a couple of his medals to honor the serpent’s killers. “Needless destruction of harmless life may be the thing in Germany but it certainly will not receive much recommendation here,” snorted this writer, E. W. Abrahams.
Not one of the letters raised the slightest question about Caddy’s authenticity: not one of the writers mentioned ever having seen the beast.
Fact is, Caddy doesn’t have to be seen to be believed. ★