Arlene Gaal, down through the years. A dedicated investigator.
February 22, 1937 – November 7, 2021
Due to decades of inquiries of British Columbia’s local Lake Monster sightings, the world’s foremost Ogopogo researcher was Arlene Gaal. We are sad to learn from her daughter Laurie that Gaal, at 84, has passed away on November 7, 2021, at the Sun Pointe Village in Kelowna, British Columbia.
Arlene Gaal was born in 1937 and raised in a small coal mining town of Michel, in southeastern British Columbia. In 1968, Arlene and her husband Joe, along with their three children moved to Kelowna, located in Central British Columbia on the pristine shores of Lake Okanagan, the reported home of the famous Ogopogo, a Lake Monster. Arlene made her living as a teacher and also wrote a weekly column for the Kelowna Daily Courier.
She soon took interest in the story of Ogopogo and began tracking the many sightings of the creature. It was not long before Arlene became the reporting station for sightings of Ogopogo and as the years progressed the data accumulated would easily fill a moderately sized room. She also made certain that any film, video, or still photos were preserved, including the so-called Folden Film, which she purchased in 1976.
Arlene Gaal served as the on-site consultant for Alan Landsburg Production, In Search of Ogopogo and for two productions shot on Lake Okanagan by Tokyo’s Nippon Television in 1990 and 1991. It was during the filming of the Nippon Television programs that helicopters and submersibles searched for the creature and video footage and sonar readings captured images that appeared to be of Ogopogo. Gaal also appeared in several TV shows such as Front Page Challenge, Unsolved Mysteries, and Destination Truth to name a few.
She was predeceased by her parents Alexander and Margaret Walker; her husband Joseph Gaal; her son Joey, who died in Thailand in 1989; and her brother-in-law James Johnston. She is survived by son David and his wife Miyuki who live in Saiki City, Japan; her daughter Laurie; and grandsons Jordan, Colton and Joshua (Breanna); as well as her sister Bernice; brother Ken (Elynda); and several cousins, nieces, and nephews. No funeral service, at her request, will be held, but a small family Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
Gaal was the author of
Ogopogo: The True Story of the Okanagan Lake Million Dollar Monster (1955);
Beneath the Depths (1976); and
In Search of Ogopogo: Sacred Creature of the Okanagan Waters (2001).
Arlene Gaal was a frequent interviewee on cryptozoology documentaries and reality television programs, including:
Self – Historian and Ogopogo Archivist
Self – Historian and Ogopogo Archivist
Arlene Gaal also was a Lifetime Honorary Member of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club.
On November 18, 2021, in the Kelowna BC The Daily Courier, Ron Seymour wrote the following obituary:
Arlene Gaal, an avid chronicler of Rutland events who was also an expert on the legend of Ogopogo, has died.
She was 84.
“She had Rutland in her heart,” Al Horning, a former MP, MLA and city councillor, said Thursday.
“Arlene was very knowledgeable about Rutland and always interested in telling Rutland’s stories,” Horning said, referring to Gaal’s long involvement with a newspaper that focused on the community.
Gaal and her late husband Joe moved to Rutland in 1968 when the area was outside the City of Kelowna’s boundaries.
She was an elementary schoolteacher who also enjoyed writing, contributing to the Rutland Weekly newspaper, teaching creative writing, and serving as president of the Okanagan Author’s Association.
She also developed an interest in Ogopogo, the legendary denizen of Okanagan Lake.
She wrote three books on Ogopogo, was often contacted by people who believed they’d seen the creature, and was consulted by many television crews that came to Kelowna from around the world to prepare shows on the elusive serpent.
Gaal’s own thoughts on the existence of Ogopogo varied from the light-hearted to the sincere.
Asked for her opinion of a sensational video of something unusual in the lake, filmed by a car salesman in 1989, Gaal said: “There is no doubt in my mind we are looking at an animal that hasn’t been classified yet.”
But after a few years without any Ogopogo sightings, Gaal suggested in 2013 the lake was getting too noisy for its liking: “I can understand with all the boats and heavy traffic on the lake. You and I would go away and hide too.”
For many years, Gaal had a serious and personal devotion to finding out what led to the death of her son Joey, a professional news photographer, in Thailand in 1989.
Authorities said he drowned but Gaal believed he was murdered. Her investigations eventually prompted the RCMP to ask their Thai colleagues to re-examine the case but no charges were ever laid.
“Arlene was passionate about getting to the truth about what happened to Joey,” said Horning, who in his capacity as MP for Kelowna in the late ’80s and early ’90s, helped Gaal in her research.
In 2014, Gaal published a 240-page book on her son’s death.
“I know a lot of people might say, ‘Oh, you’re continuing on with a lost cause’, and ‘Just let it go’,” Gaal said in an interview at the time.
“But this happened to me, to our family, not to them,” she said. “Why wouldn’t I do what I could to try to see Joey’s killer brought to justice?”
Arlene Gaal, 2009, taken by Paul Cropper, and shared with me.
Arlene Gaal holds her second book about the legendary lake monster Ogopogo among dozens of newspaper clippings in 2000.
PHOTO BY DESMOND MURRAY /Province
Laurie and Arlene Gaal, 2019
Personally, I will deeply miss Arlene, who has been a correspondent of mine since the 1960s. She was generous in her sharing of her Ogopogo insights. Goodbye Arlene. ~ Loren Coleman