So mass disappearances are nothing new in the paranormal world. The most famous in North America being the missing people in the Roanoke Colony. These people were last seen alive in 1587, but it is by no means the only missing group of people to come from NA. There is another tale, albeit with smaller numbers, that is also mysterious in nature. The Missing Village of Angikuni Lake.
In the 1930’s a fur trapper, Joe Labell, was out checking his traps. He was very far into the wilderness and as darkness descended on the land and it being winter he needed a place to sleep and to keep warm. He knew of a fishing village nearby that was a bustling Inuit fishing village near Angikuni lake and so he started to make his way there. As he got close he shouted a greeting, so as to not arrive unannounced, and was met only with his echo and the wind whistling over the village. He stopped, his senses on high alert. He was an experienced outdoorsman and he knew something was amiss. He scanned the area and noticed a light coming from between the trees at the edge of the village. He quickened his pace, hoping to find someone to tell him what was going on, but when he got to the spot where the light was coming from he found the embers of a dying campfire and a stew that had been left to blacken in its pot. He turned towards the village again and saw that there were no sounds coming from the dark fishing huts, no noise of conversation and laughing, and most disturbingly, no smoke coming from the chimneys of the Inuit homes. He silently walked forward, past the wave-beaten kayaks the Inuit used for fishing, and checked every house. He saw meals that were still set out in pots all moldy, clothes in the process of being mended with bone needles still sticking out of them. Most importantly he found almost every home had a rifle. There was food stockpiled in the houses, as well as the fish-house. It seems like these people, all 25 from his recollection, had disappeared without a trace. He even tried to find some evidence as to where they went by seeing if there were sled marks around the village, but to no avail. He was frantic at this point. No one in their right mind, much less 25 people, would leave a village in the middle of winter with no food or protection. So he made the tough decision, as cold and fatigued as he was at this point, that he was going to a telegraph office many miles away and call the Mounties, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or RCMP. He also particularly didnt want to stick around as he didnt want the same nefarious and, in Labelle‘s estimation, unmistakably supernatural, force that claimed the villagers descend upon him as well. He trudged through sub-zero temperatures to the telegraph office and sent word to the Mounties.
The Mounties responded several hours later. In the interim Labelle had been able to compose himself and told his part of the story. After this the Mounties, I love using that word, started towards the village. On the way they stopped for a bit of rest at a shanty that was shared by trapper Armand Laurent and his two sons. The officers explained to their hosts that they were headed to Anjikuni to deal with “a kind of problem.”
The Mounties inquired as to whether or not the Laurents had seen anything unusual during the past few days, and the trapper was forced to concede that he and his sons had spied a bizarre gleaming object soaring across the sky just a few days before. Laurent claimed that the enormous, illuminated flying “thing” seemed to change shape before their very eyes, transforming from a cylinder into a bullet-like object. He further divulged that this unusual object was flying in the direction of the village at Anjikuni.
When the Mounties got to the village they were able to confirm what Labelle had said, as well as make a few other rather grisly discoveries. After examining the village the Mounties discovered that, and this differs based on the version you hear, one or all of the graves there had been exhumed. In Inuit culture it is a very serious taboo to mess with graves, and what is more the stones lining the graves had been placed into 2 neat piles next to each of the graves. No animal would be able to do that. Then also nearby the village they made the sad discovery of no less than 7 though some say 2-3 sled dogs were found frozen in the snow. They had been tied to some scrub brush and couldnt get to the food or anything like that so…yeah. This in and of itself is very strange because the sled dogs are the lifes blood for a village. They pull sleds of supplies, and effectively, are the only mode of efficient transportation when it comes to snow covered ground. As such they are a very important part of Inuit life. Why were they left there? It also needs to be noted that these dogs wouldnt have succumbed to starvation in the time it took for the Mounties to get there. Labelle stated he found food on a campfire that was still burning. How does all this add up? Did they let them starve for some reason? No real evidence was found as to why both of the graves were dug up and why these dogs were left behind.
As if all this werent strange enough, the Mounties reported seeing bluish lights pulsating over the area on the horizon and noted they did not look like the Aurora Borealis at all. In the ensuing Mountie investigation, which lasted 2 weeks, they concluded that the Inuit inhabitants had been gone for 2 months…based on some berries they found at the bottom of one of the cooking pots…yeah I dont know how they got to the conclusion, not gonna lie. This is kinda dubious. This then begs the question, if the Inuit were gone for 2 months…who lit the fire that Labelle found?
If you were looking for a good conclusion then this isnt the episode for you. In the end no one knows exactly what happened to the 25 or so individuals that inhabited that small village. Now in due diligence I did dive deeper and this story first hit the newspapers on Nov. 30th 1930 by the newspaper Le Pas, Manitoba. It was after this that the National Newspapers actually got a hold of the story and everyone was told this tale of mystery. However after this it got shuffled under a mound of papers and was not heard about again until Frank Edwards wrote his book, Stranger than Science in 1959 and included this story in it. Now, at this point this case was, and probably still is, the oldest cold case in the RMCP’s files. As such they apparently didnt like it being brought up again. The RCMP lambasted Edwards and accused him of fabricating the story, which wasnt true. Now I will admit some facts about the story had been conflated, one book said 2,000 people disappeared which is ludicrous. There were 2 investigations by the RCMP however, both dismissive in tone. Both were conducted in 1931. The first was done, probably unofficially, by Sergeant J. Nelson who was stationed nearby. He concluded that Labelle, after talking to one shop owner and only that shop owner, was a newcomer to the area and that he didnt know what he was talking about. Nelson makes no mention of going to the area where the village was either. His tone throughout is dismissive and it seems he was a skeptic without an open mind throughout. The second was done at some point during 1931, and was probably the official report. It states, unsurprisingly, that the area was searched and no untoward evidence was found. It was noted that the Inuits might have used that area as a seasonal village, but they do not know. So if the Mounties cant figure out what happened, maybe we can.
So, lets look at logical explanations. Were these people murdered? Were they taken by force? If this were the case then there would be some kind of evidence. Blood, bullet holes, signs of a struggle, bodies etc. None were found. If they left voluntarily then why leave food, rifles, and sled dogs and just disappear without a trace? What about the grave/graves found dug up? As far as I found there is no explanation, besides Labelle outright lying, that is logical for this to occur. So what about some of the more outlandish theories?
Aliens: Ok this one is obvious. What if some aliens swooped down, grabbed the people, dug up their graves for experiments, and got outta dodge like a bat outta heck? Well, we have the account from the trapper and his sons the Mounties met on the way to Angikuni Lake as well as the weird pulsating blue light the Mounties reported seeing. This is, in all honesty, terrifying to think about. Aliens coming down, and grabbing people who are in the middle of doing daily chores and absconding with them to gods knows where. Sounds like a b thriller movie premise and a damn good one at that. However thats a lot to pin on aliens based on two anecdotal accounts, so what are other theories?
Demons/evil spirits: Now to give all due respect to Indigenous culture and the Inuit tribes I did a deep dive of this one. So some people have referred to Torngarsuk when talking about this story. Tuurngatsuak(Torn-Gat-Sook) is likened to a spirit. As far as I am aware it means “big” or “great” spirit. However, when people refer to this spirit they refer to a spirit said to inhabit Greenland. It is said this spirit takes the form of a bear, and is…not nice by all accounts. They would make offerings to this spirit or incur his wrath. This spirit is by all accounts not real, historically in Labrador Inuit anyway, as far as I am aware and was first described in 1916 by Ernest Hawkes. However, it is pervasive and people believe in this spirit to this day. The ACTUAL Tuurngaatsuk (Torn-Gat-Suk) which means “good” or “helpful” spirit has been described in association with the Moon Man or Igaluk(European translation) the god of the moon. He is described as a nice spirit who sends animals to hunt to the Inuit. Then there are just the Tuurngait (Tuurngaat) which is the word for “spirit”. There are good and bad Tuurngait and the Shamans of the Inuit use these spirits to help or hinder people depending on the shaman. When Christianity came into the picture all Tuurngait were painted as demons and evil. All of this to say people believe this “great” or “big” spirit, who was known to come in animal form, came to these people and scared them off. Did they believe one of their sled dogs had been possessed by this “devil” and thats why they left the dogs behind? I find this explanation to be rather distasteful and downright wrong given the facts I brought up. Its sensationalized to say the least and downright disrespectful in every sense of the word.
Alternate dimensions: Now this is the topic that I think is the most “credible” of the supernatural theories. Its no surprise that historical records are chock full of stories of people who just mysteriously disappeared and were never heard from again. Take the Missing 411 phenomenon that has been a hot topic for years in the paranormal community. There is also the strange case of Orion Williamson, a farmer from Selma, Alabama, who was said to have vanished into thin air in front of his wife, son and two neighbors while strolling across his property in July of 1854. He walked into a field and disappeared from view, and he never came back. The entire community turned out to search for the farmer but he was never seen again. However, Williamson’s son swore he heard the ghostly cries of his father emanating from the field for weeks following his bizarre evaporation.Then there’s the astonishing case of a shoemaker from Warwickshire, England, by the name of James Burne Worson. Worson’s penchant for bragging about his long distance running abilities had finally worn down the patience of his drinking buddies, Hamerson Burns and Barham Wise, who challenged their friend to run the 40 mile distance from Leamington to Coventry. Worson accepted the bet and within the hour the trio were on their way with Worson jogging and Burns and Wise following close behind in horse-drawn cart.The incredibly fit Worson seemed to be enjoying himself, running at a solid pace and joking with his buddies, until he tripped just 20-feet ahead of his friends. Burns and Wise watched in abject horror as their friend fell forward with “an awful cry of terror,” then vanished before their very eyes. In the same vein as Mr. Williamson, the search for their missing cohort proved fruitless.
So in essence, with all the theories out in the open, no one can really say what happened to the 25 or so people that populated that small fishing village on Angikuni Lake. Some people say it was natural, that they had just moved on to another spot and left things behind and that Labell either exaggerated or misremembered the scene’s he was describing, and the fear of dying of the cold and exhaustion got the better of his wits. Others say it was aliens or some other supernatural phenomenon that swept through the little village and took the inhabitants into the ether. So here is where we leave this story, where we found it, in the cold, wild, and beautiful Canadian wilderness, and perhaps it is best left there as a reminder that no matter where we are or what we are doing, the supernatural can come along and sweep us up into wherever it wills us to go. -Ranger
Taylor, J. Garth. “Deconstructing Deities: Tuurngatsuak and Tuurngaatsuk in Labrador Inuit Religion.” Études/Inuit/Studies, vol. 21, no. 1/2, 1997, pp. 141–58. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/42869963. Accessed 22 Nov. 2022.