Photos: Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin. Copyright Martin and Erik Dahinden. No use of any material from the Patterson film in the form of stills is permitted without expressed written permission from Mr. Dahinden. Violators will face legal action.
British Columbia has been a fertile location for sightings of a bipedal hirsute hominid known colloquially as sasquatch. The name “sasquatch” was coined by J.W. Burns,an American schoolteacher living in BC, and is derived from a Chehalis word meaning wild man. Burns showed a tremendous interest in sasquatch starting from the 1920’s, but he was not alone in his pursuit of date and information regarding this animal. Journalist Bruce McKelvie, whose personal papers on the subject reside in the BC Archives, was keenly interested in the subject as was the late former Mayor of North Vancouver, Charles Cates. They were joined in the 1950s by newspaper publisher John Green and Swiss immigrant Rene Dahinden.
Green and Dahinden – until his death in 2001 – have spent 40 years in active investigation and research into the sasquatch phenomenon. Green is considered the elder statesman of the sasquatch field and whilst he is less active in the field today he has researched a wide range of sasquatch sightings and has visited sites such as the Bluff Creek/Onion Mountain site in 1958, The Bluff Creek/Blue Mountain site in 1967 and also the site of the Patterson film many times in a long and distinguished career as a sasquatch filed work investigator. John Green today continues to be active in the sasquatch realm and is generous in offering advice and information ot all who enquire of him. Whilst he was not an actual investogator in the sasquatch realm as such, Nuxalk First Nations Chief Clayton Mack was instrumental in offering some fascinating insights into the sasquatch from a native perspective. His data can be found in two books Grizzlies and White Guys (Heritage House, 1996) and Bella Coola Man (Harbour Publishing, 2002).
The sasquatch is depicted in both male and female forms on a variety of totem poles of a host of First Nations bands. It is viewed as a biological animal and is often avoided by some bands who feel that to see a sasquatch means one faces a premature death.
It is in BC that we find reports of the shootings of several sasquatches despitethe fact that it is illegal to do so. The earliest occurrence was in 1905 at Gardner Canal which is the longest fjord in BC at 114 kilometres in length. A sasquatch was reportedly killed here, but there are no details in regard to this event.
John Green records that Bob Titmus interviewed two witnesses who shot at a sasquatch at Hartley Bay on an island near Bella Coola in 1967. The creature is said to have screamed and then fled. The witnesses were unable to find a the body of the creature.
In February, 1969 at Khutze Inlet east of Graham Reach, three hunters were involved in an incident in which a sasquatch was shot at. Like the incident in 1967, the sasquatch screamed and ran into the woods. No trace of the creature was ever found after it fled. Whilst the violence done to a sasquatch has been recorded for posterity, there is little indication they are violent themselves with the excpetion of an incident that tookplace near Kitimat.
Two generations ago, a Kitimat native shot a sasquatch. Several other sasquatches appeared and gave the impression thatthey were about to attack the man as he attempted to drag the body out He ultimately fled to his canoe and it says much aboutthe powers of restraint of the BC sasquatch that none of them attempted to pursue the man any further (Source: British Columbia Digest, 1963).
The BC sasquatch is also known to be able to swim. At Butedale in July, 1965, Jack Taylor was fishing when he saw two sasquatches on shore and a third in the water which was swimming very strongly. He reported his sighting to veteran investigator Bob Titmus.
The village of Klemtu in the Great Bear Rainforest had a report of a sasquatch seen swimming off a beach in the area. Further details are not available at this time. Reports of swimming sasquatches have come from Tofino on the west coast of the province. Sasquatches have been seen swimming from Tofino to Meares Island on a number of occasions, the most recent being in 2002.
A report of a swimming sasquatch was also received by investigator Tom Steenburg. One was seen swimming in Harrison Lake and when it came ashore, the creature shook the water off its fur much as a dog would do.
Sasquatch research today is carried out by individuals such as Tom Steenburg (who is also a member of the BCSCC), John Bindernagel, Adrian Dorst, Gavin Joth, Jason Walton, John Kirk, Sebastian Wang, Robert Milner, Christopher Murphy, Gerry Matthews, Brian Vike, Rob Nowatschka, Graham Conway and many others. Perhaps the best footage of an unknown animal is the film of a female Sasquatch which was shot at Bluff Creek, Northern California in 1967. Investigators Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin had the good fortune of sighting the creature as it paused in a clearing in the Bluff Creek area. The film shows an upright walking female Sasquatch estimated to be between six foot five and six foot nine inches inch tall as it looks at the humans and then turns to walk away from them into a strand of trees.
Patterson and Gimlin are among the many who have seen these quasi-human, hair covered, tall – in some cases nearly 15 feet in height, powerfully built creatures both far from and close to human habitats. Basically, shy creatures, the Sasquatch tends to avoid human contact and has on occasion frightened humans away with a display of territorial assertion. Although usually nocturnal, Sasquatches have been seen at a variety of times and in different modes of behaviour. Some have been seen seeking out animals for food, fishing with their hands, piling rocks, swimming and just casually observing the habits of that queer breed of animals – humans.
Numerous skeptics have attempted to discredit the film, but none have offered a plausible explanation for what it is seen striding around the California forest with a gait humans would simply not be able to replicate. Some have said that it is merely a human in an ape costume, but some of the finest costumiers in the film and theatre business have said it would be impossible to make an outfit that performs in the way the creature in the Patterson film does. All one has to do is to view the Planet of the Apes films – the first in the series was released a year after the Patterson-Gimlin film was obtained – to see that Hollywood did not even possess the technological skills to make a form fitting costume which shows massive muscle movement under the layer of fur. Experts in human locomotion and biomechanics, particularly Dr Dmitry Donskoy of the Instate of Physical Culture and specialists of the Institute of Prosthetics and Artificial Limb Construction of Moscow, have said that no human could walk with the type of sophisticated leg and foot flexure displayed by the Sasquatch in Patterson’s mini movie.
What is extraordinary about the film is that it shows a female of the species with pendulous breasts and broader hips than would be expected in a male of the species. In virtually every single Sasquatch hoax, the perpetrators have always used a flat-chested male gorilla suit, but in the Patterson film we see a female with all the attributes one would expect from that gender. Either Patterson and Gimlin were fooled by the finest and most technically advanced hoaxer in history or they encountered the real thing. The evidence is heavily weighted in favour of the latter.
The physical evidence does not rest solely on Patterson and Gimlin’s film and testimony. Numerous tracks of the animals have been found across the United States and Canada, particularly in British Columbia and the Cascade Mountains of the United States. Hundreds of witnesses have testified to seeing the animals and in Skamania county, Washington so many sightings have taken place that there is a local ordinance which prohibits any endangerment of the Sasquatch population. In recent years Florida has experienced an increase in sightings of Sasquatch-type creature known rather odiously as the “Skunk Ape” for its foul smell. Minnesota, Michigan and Ohio have all become hotbeds of Sasquatch activity as have Arkansas, Texas and parts of Louisiana.
Over the years dedicated investigators such as John Green, the late Rene Dahinden, the late Grover Krantz and Peter Byrne have spent tens of thousands of hours in active field work researching sightings and traces of the creatures. None of these dedicated researchers has obtained a sighting despite the time and effort put in by them. However, they have all found tracks and traces of the animals in a variety of locations across the Pacific Northwest, scant reward, though, for over 30 years of investigation.
The North American Science Institute (NASI) has used sophisticated, sensing and photographic devices in a bid to obtain photos of a Sasquatch at close range. NASI also released their findings regarding the physical dimensions of such a creature and their estimates indicate a chest measurement of 82 inches, a height of 7 Feet 3 inches and weight in excess of 1,900 lbs. There will be tremendous debate and discussion for a long time over the results of NASI investigation.
Although the height concurs with Roger Patterson’s estimate it does not do so with Bob Gimlin’s. He estimated the height at 6 feet 6 inches and investigators such as Grover Krantz and John Green have reached the same conclusion with their own calculations. However, David Daegling and Daniel O. Schmitt claim in the May/June 1999 issue of the Skeptical Inquirer that it is impossible to gauge accurately the height of the creature in the film because of a myriad variables and lack of data from the site.
As to what Sasquatch actually is there is still much debate. There are essentially two camps with vastly differing theories. On the one hand there are those who believe that Sasquatch is a humanoid creature which has developed more slowly than the human race has in the area of evolution. The other camp believes that Sasquatch is plainly and simply an upright walking ape related to Gigantopithecus, an extinct species known for its gargantuan stature, whose scant fossil remains of a few mandibles and teeth have been found in China and India.
A huge ethical and moral dilemma arises out of the question of Sasquatch’s true identity. To some investigators it is an imperative that physical evidence be obtained so that the creatures’ existence can be confirmed once and for all. Therefore, they explain, if it is necessary to kill one to prove the species exists it must be done at all costs. Others argue that as there are seemingly so few Sasquatch animals about today it would imperil the survival of the species if even a single specimen was killed in the name of science.
Yet another argument is that if Sasquatch is a genetically mutated type of human, would not killing one constitute homicide – for which the penalties are most severe, particularly in the United States. The prospect of killing an animal or human for the sake of science is one of revulsion and patent disgust for many in the field of Sasquatch investigation. It would seem those who would kill a Sasquatch for the sake of proving its existence are in the minority. The Russians believe that there “Bigfoot” is possibly related to the Neanderthal hominid grouping. For more on this matter, visit the Almasti page.
Several individuals in the United States claimed to have been the the so-called “man-in-the-ape-suit” in the Patterson film. Newspapers and Tv networks carried these stories and have erroneously given the public the impression that the film was a hoax. Nothing could be further from the truth. None of the individuals has been able to produce the suit or any other evidence that links them to the film.
Another researcher claims to have found a “buckle” or man-made artifact in Frame 352 of the film. However, when the methods of enlargement of the image employed by this individual were scrutinised we discovered his methodology was faulty in the extreme and that the effect could only be found in a particular copy of the photo which was originally derived from a 3rd generation poor copy of the film and SCREEN printed in Halpin and Ames’ book, “Manlike Monsters on Trial”.
Experts from Adobe and Pegasus have both said that the enlargement tolerances used by the researcher well exceeded the maximum allowable tolerances before any imaging becomes visual “noise”. In other words there is no “buckle” and the Patterson film remains unscathed. In addition, Kodak, who manufactured the film used by Roger Patterson, indicate in the leaflet which accompanies the film, that the maximum allowable enlargement value is 100X. The so-called “buckle” can only be seen at enlargement scales of 400X which is well outside the maximum enlargement capacity.
In the past few years sightings have become far less frequent and the number of hoaxes far too many. It appears there are some who are determined to make a name for themselves by claiming to have encountered as Sasquatch. Most of the evidence produced is patently false and of rather amateurish construction. Nonetheless, there are still those who have recently encountered Sasquatch who continue to say as others have in the past, how much they marvelled at the strange animal so docile for one so huge and daunting.
Sasquatch by Don Hunter and Rene Dahinden
Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us by John Green
Meet the Sasquatch By Chris Murphy, John Green and Tom Steenburg.
Sasquatch Odyssey Directed and written by Peter von Putkammer
Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science Directed and Produced by Doug Haijcek.
The contents of this page are the respective copyright of Rene Dahinden, Erik Dahinden, Martin Dahinden, John Williston Green, John Kirk and the BCSCC, 1967, 1978, 1993, 1996, 2005.