Something is lurking below the surface in Weston Family Quarry Garden

A fallen tree with beaver marks.This fallen cottonwood tree bears evidence of what may be lurking in the ponds of the Weston Family Quarry Garden. Photo: Andrew Simpson.

Over the past few weeks, strange sightings and odd evidence have been surfacing in and around the ponds of the Weston Family Quarry Garden. Toppled trees, blurry photos and peculiar bubbling are just some of the phenomena noted.

It started on June 21, when Evergreen’s executive director Geoff Cape was out for a morning stroll. Circling around the ponds, Geoff sighted something dark moving through the water. He moved in closer and captured this photo of a dark mammal swimming in one of the ponds.

Is it a beaver? Photo: Geoff Cape.

Certain it was a beaver, Geoff returned to the office and enthusiastically told his tale. Christine Martin, manager of volunteer development, incredulously listened in. With his story quickly losing traction, Geoff decided to display his photographic evidence. Once she saw the picture, Christine was convinced: "I knew there were muskrats in the ponds, I didn’t believe it was a beaver until I saw the photo."

However, the photo still lacks a clear view of the creature’s tail, or an object to reference its size. Could it just be a floating log?

Smaller than beavers, muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) measure 40–60 cm in length and weigh up to 1.8kg. Their tails are long and covered with scales as opposed to beaver's large, round and flat tails. Beavers (Castor canadensis) weigh approximately 20kg and stretching about a metre long. Both of these pale in comparison to Castoroides ohionesis, the black-bear-sized beaver last seen in these parts 12,000 years ago.

Shortly after Geoff brought his photo forward, strange bubbling appeared in the ponds. Bubbling only something large could create. This short video clip was captured:

Some Evergreen staff have speculated that the bubbles come from one of the large snapping turtles living in the ponds, but others, including program assistant Anne Dabrowski, think they are mechanical in nature: “It’s a series of pumps used to aerate the ponds. It’s not a turtle.”

Turtle or not, the plot thickened on July 23, when volunteer Andrew Simpson took several alarming photographs of an eastern cottonwood with its trunk completely gnawed through. Is this circumstantial evidence of a beaver in the ponds, or something far stranger? While speculation flourishes, clear photographic evidence remains below the surface. Until it emerges, the jury remains out on just what is lurking in and around these ponds.

Help us solve the mystery. If you happen to catch a photo on your next visit to Evergreen Brick Works, post it to our Facebook page.