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An illustration of Kinosoo

With a surface area of 373 square kilometres and a depth of 99.1 meters, Cold Lake is one of the largest and deepest lakes in Alberta, and is split between the Alberta and Saskatchewan border. The lake features recreational sports, including fishing and boating. The early Chipewyan Indians called the lake Big Fish Lake, although it was the Cree Indian title of Coldwater Lake that gave the body its name.

It was also the local First Nations tribes that gave white settlers to the area the story of the great fish Kinosoo.

According to local legend, a young First Nations man often paddled a canoe near the shores of the lake to visit a young woman he hoped to marry. Although sticking near the shores was a safer way to travel over the often turbulent lake, one night when the winds were low, the young man decided to cut across French Bay when he was attacked. An enormous fish rushed at his boat and bit it in two, pulling the man to his death – all while the woman he hoped to marry watched helplessly from the far shore. The only thing that remained were a paddle and pieces of the broken canoe.

Kinosoo back bone

One of the said backbones of Kinosoo.

Many tales are told of Kinosoo, which is also called "The Big Fish" by some. Many of these tales originate from the Cree people who live in and around Cold Lake and are told like they were very much actual events. A lot of the stories surround events and happenings in and around Cold Lake which happened that were then attributed to Kinosoo. Sometime before the 1880s, a Cree fisherman went fishing on Cold Lake with a birch canoe and never returned, this is said to be because Kinosoo swallowed him whole. According to some Kinosoo died when a group of Elk swam across Cold Lake and a Bull Elk hit Kinosoo and "killed him", they later found large backbones and ribs on the beach at Birch Point.

The finding of Kinosoo bones is quite substantial evidence as there were many witnesses. Sometime in the mid-1800s, a hunting party of Chipewyan indigenous found one or more very large bones partially buried in the sand at Birch Point, one of these people, J.B Minoose said that the bones were "of a type that might come from a whale". However, these bones allegedly did not mean the end of Kinosoo because afterward reports of sightings of Kinosoo increased, and it is still claimed by residents of Cold Lake and the local Cree and Chipewyan that Kinosoo prevails. In fact, by 1930 people were traveling from across Canada to try to see Kinosoo and even attempting to catch him.



an Artists concept art of Kinosoo

The kinosoo resembles a large sturgeon. Although according to some people, Kinosoo instead looks like a mix between a sturgeon and a pike. This would make sense as Sturgeons are not naturally hostile or carnivorous like the kinosoo of legend, while northern pike are, with sizable northern pikes normally preying on ducks and other waterfowl. Both lake sturgeon and northern pike are present in Cold Lake and grow to large sizes in the lake.