Monster hunter, scuba diver, historian, and ecologist, Jacques Boisvert, died on Saturday, February 4, 2006, at age 73, suddenly, untimely, and quietly, according to the Magog, Quebec newspaper The Outlet. Ironically, Jacques recommended I place myself on the mailing list of this small newspaper, which is not online. The paper’s arrival today was my first awareness of his death.
Jacques Boisvert was born on October 11, 1932, in Magog, Quebec, the fourth of five children of Omer Boisvert and Jeanne Estelle Guilbert. He worked for his father’s insurance, investment, and ski management business for many years, assuming ownership in 1988.
Boisvert was deeply involved in diving since the 1960s, making over 5,500 dives in Lake Memphremagog. Additionally, he was passionate about the local history of the area and founded the Lake Memphremagog Historical Society in 1980. He collected and saved several significant precious pieces of archival material, envied by local researchers, according to Maurice Langlois of the Magog Historical Society. "Jacques was an inexhaustive source of information regarding our local history and an excellent story-teller. He was a good entertainer and had the ability to transmit to his audience, his own passion and taste for history," remarked Langlois.
Boisvert’s cryptozoology contributions were vast. His research on the lake monster of Lake Memphremagog was totally responsible for this cryptid being recognized as it is today, a sister lake serpent to Champ. He was the person to invent the local cryptid’s moniker, the Memphre’, and registered the name legally in Canada. But Boisvert did not "keep" the name for himself, and instead encouraged its use by the lodging and tourist businesses of the region. Boisvert’s work didn’t stop there. He then undertook to revise and name the whole science of Lake Monster research.
Indeed, Jacques Boisvert of Quebec was the one individual responsible for the discovery and promotion of an entirely new field of inquiry, “dracontology”.
Living not far down the road from Lake Champlain, Boisvert became an avid investigator of the local aquatic cryptid at Lake Memphremagog, which is another elongated body of water bisected by the U.S.-Canada boundary.
Early in the 1980s, while doing research, Boisvert got in touch with a monk friend of his at the Benedictine Abbey of St-Benoît-du-Lac on the shores of Lake Memphremagog. Boisvert asked his friend to find a word that would identify the science dealing with unidentified strange lake dwelling creatures. The monk, a linguist, found the word dracontologie, and Boisvert began actively using the word.
Boisvert strictly defined dracontology as “The study of lake animals unknown to science.” On December 3, 1984, the word was officially accepted by l’Office de la langue française du Québec, the governmental body for bilingual affairs. In 1985, the American Heritage Dictionary officially recognized the English variation of the word, Dracontology. Then a year later, Jacques Boisvert founded la Société de dracontologie internationale du lac Memphrémagog (the International Dracontology Society of Lake Memphremagog). He contacted Bernard Heuvelmans, and Heuvelmans, according to Boisvert, accepted the word as denoting a branch of the broader discipline of cryptozoology, the study of "hidden animals."
(The above highlights of Jacques Boisvert’s dracontology milestones are from my and Patrick Huyghe’s book The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep.)
Boisvert’s role in the study of Lake Monsters was pivotal. Jacques Boisvert will be missed but his work will not be forgotten.
The media enjoyed calling Boisvert a cryptodracontologist. I think we all should acknowledge that he was the world’s first dracontologist. He would have been happy to just be known by that name. And surely, of course, he will not be the last.