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For other places with the same name, see Rattlesnake Island.


Rattlesnake Island is a small island on Okanagan Lakemarker, directly east from Peachlandmarker. The land and shore surrounding the island form part of Okanagan Mountain Parkmarker. Legend has it that Rattlesnake Island is the home of Ogopogomarker the lake's legendary sea monster.

In the 1970s, the island was developed as a tourist attraction, including a mini-golf course with a replica of the Great Pyramid at Giza and a Giant Camel (confectionary was going to be built on it, but that plan was later abandoned after only one day of business after opposition from the provincial government and others. In 2003, a lightning strike near the island started the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire that burned a large portion of the surrounding park but not the island.

Okanagan Indians claimed a water beast lived in the lake near the island. They called the creature N'ha-a-itk, meaning "snake of the water,". Their native superstitions demanded certain traditions before entering N'ha-a-ith's domain. One of these traditions was a ritual sacrifice of a small animal as a peace offering before crossing the lake. Tying their horses behind their canoes, they would paddle out to where they believed the serpent lived in a cave beneath the water, now known as Squally Point, and make their offering, in hopes that this appeasement would protect their horses and they would not be dragged under and drowned by the monster.

In 1890, Captain Thomas Shorts was steaming on the lake and claimed to have seen a finned creature about sixteen feet long with a head like that of a ram. The creature allegedly disappeared however when he turned his ship in its direction, and virtually no one believed his reports of it. Some people began to examine the lake in more careful detail believing intently in the creature's existence. Many others liked the legend of the lake serpent, and playfully named it Ogopogo. Some, especially those associated with the tourism industry in the Okanagan Valley, came to call the island "Ogopogo Island", and the name stuck for many years. Prior to that, in the early part of the 1900s, it was simply known as "The Island". Robert Columbo, in his book Mysterious Canada, notes that the Pogo Stick was a popular craze since its introduction in 1921 and this may have contributed to the name. According to Arlene Gaal, author of Ogopogo: The True Story of the Okanagan Lake's Million Dollar Monster, a Vancouver Province reporter named Ronald Kenvyn later parodied a popular British ditty and composed a song that included the following stanza:

   His mother was an earwig;
   His father was a whale;
   A little bit of head And hardly any tail-
   And Ogopogo was his name.


Thanks to these songs, the name Ogopogo stuck and the Indian name has largely forgotten.

In the 1950s the Island was purchased by Peter Spackman who tried to have the name Sunset Island adopted but it had, at that time, also been given the name "Rattlesnake Island" because of the grass (Glyceria canadensis) that covers it is good cover for these creatures. Many locals still called it Ogopogo Island, but at the request of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, in the 1950s the name of Rattlesnake Island was confirmed.

The island changed hands several times until barber Mohammed Eddy Haymour purchased it in 1971. He attempted to build an Arab theme park, but the provincial government decided that the sale of the park was an error and set about to ruin Mr haymour, with the help of the RCMP. He was imprisoned and sent to a mental facility where he was held and drugged.After a long legal battle, which cost him almost everything he had including his family, he was awarded a settlement by the government for the harm inflicted on him.The facility that Mr. Haymour was lodged in was British Columbia's Oakalla Prison Farm (the West Wing (for prisoners awaiting sentencing). In the summer of 1974, he ran a barber shop out of his cell and was known as the Barber of Oakalla.


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