Cask & Barrel

Lake on the Mountain


North Marysburgh

Lake on the Mountain is one of the most famous, and most mysterious places in Prince Edward County. Lying 190 feet above the level of the Bay of Quinte, it has no visible source of water supply, but maintains a constant level and even has an overflow down over the cliff to the Bay below.

It was known as Okenoga, “Lake of the Gods” to the Hurons, and they offered gifts to the three sisters who lived in the bottomless lake. Another native legend says the lake had once been a smoking mountain, with a passage to the centre of the earth. Many early white settlers believed it was a volcano crater and would become alarmed whenever the waters of the lake became warmer than normal.

A local legend tells the story of the daughter of an Indian chief, who was very beautiful. Anxious to cement an alliance with a neighbouring tribe, the chief ordered his daughter to marry one of their warriors, Annosothka, who was very powerful. But the girl was in love with Gowanda, a brave from her own tribe. Gowanda was ambushed by a hostile tribe while on a hunting trip and was taken hostage. The Indian maiden waited and waited, but eventually gave up hope and agreed to marry Annosothka. The chief prepared a great feast and lit a huge ceremonial fire to celebrate the event. As the girl sat in front of the fire, a snake slithered towards her, prepared to strike. Suddenly, out of the woods, leapt a young brave who killed the snake with a knife, saving her life. It was Gowanda, who had escaped from his captors and found his way home, guided by the light of the ceremonial wedding fire. The girl then informed her father and her fiance of her love for Gowanda. Dejected, Annosothka accepted her decision. He then plunged into the icy waters of Lake on the Mountain, never to be seen again. On a still night, if one listens carefully, Annosothka’s call to his betrothed can still be heard.

Many people believe that the bottom of the lake has a subterranean passage to Lake Erie, which is at the same altitude, but scientists claim it is fed by an underground spring. Whatever the explanation, it is one of the most intriguing mysteries of the County.


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

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