Originally Published on TheNerdistheWord September 2016
She was just on a walk, after dark, along the Rideau Canal near the University of Ottawa. It’s a well lit area, ironically quiet for it’s proximity to the flashy downtown core.
When she’d first seen the large, slimy footprints on the paved trail, she hadn’t known what to think. The strange splashing on the canal’s surface was probably just a fish, or an insomniac duck. Was the sound of muddy footsteps behind her getting nearer? Then, she saw it, and her scream was heard all the way to Makenzie King Bridge. The Rideau Canal Monsters are upon us!
Noticed the lumpy gunk and funky smell?
As of last week, the Rideau Canal water was deemed unsafe to even touch by the Ottawa Public Heath agency, due to toxic blue-green algae. The presence of such bacteria is likely an indication of heavy pollution. This summer, residents and tourists alike have been caught chucking trash and dangerous substances in the canal, as though it is a large communal garbage can.
Year after year, we seem to forget the disastrous state of our canal- after all, once it freezes over into the skating rink we love, we won’t see the dead floating fish, decomposed Tim Hortons cups and soggy plastic bags anymore. This time, the problem is literally climbing out of the water, reaching out to lone victims in the night!
What are the Rideau Canal Monsters?
The Rideau Canal Monsters have lived among us, unknown to the general population for at least a century. They emerge practically every year, shortly after Labour Day, as the touristic season draws to an end. They are usually a discreet bunch, immigrating from the stagnant canal waters traveled by small boats during the summer, towards the greater currents of Ottawa River, where they spend the winter.
As super-evolved plant life, the creatures themselves are composed of algae and seaweed. They have fish-like faces with big lidless eyes on the side of their skulls. Fins, which make them faster swimmers than walkers, are present on either arms and legs. They can be up to 7ft tall, and thus far, we have not been capable of differentiating genders among them. Could they simply grow from the muck caked at the bottom of the canal?
It is unknown when exactly the Rideau Canal Monsters grew humanoid legs and arms, which allow them to roam the trails of the canal and the Ottawa River front. Strange rumours and legends have led some to think that Rideau Canal Monsters could even be transformed swimmers, contaminated by the hazardous cocktail of chemicals that sit in the polluted water. Could the Rideau Canal Monsters once have been humans? Could we have created the issue in the first place?
This year, the creatures are not only immigrating ahead of the winter; they seek vengeance.
What do I do if I see one?
In the past, Rideau Canal Monsters have cohabited with us peacefully. Once, they would have responded to a small “how do you do?” with a polite head nod, but in light of recent attacks, they should not be approached. If you happen to cross a Rideau Canal Monster, here’s a quick list of dos-and-don’ts:
-Make comments about the smell, they can be very sensitive.
-Throw trash in the water or at the creature.
-Try to poke it with a stick
-Talk about sushi or any meals involving seaweed.
-Mention the “Creature from the Black Lagoon” 1954 film. It is piece of history they would rather forget.
-Speak loudly about your love for recycling and composting.
-Lie and say you voted Green.
-Address them from the side of their heads, where their eyes are.
-Mention your love for DC’s Swamp Thing or Marvel’s Man-Thing
-Run the heck away
Ottawa residents and visitors, stay safe. Report any sightings of the Rideau Canal Monsters in the comments below, as 911 services and official news broadcasters will pretend not to believe you. Be careful on midnight strolls, and to avoid angering the creatures, please help keep our waterways clean.
Image Acquired from Movie, Mr. "Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)." Blogger, 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2016. http://mrmovierbknapp.blogspot.ca/2014_10_01_archive.html