Bigfoot Encounters

Seeking sasquatch 
Local bigfoot hunter John Green honoured
for his 50-year quest to find elusive biped...

Photo: John Green of Harrison Hot Springs has been gathering evidence, including footprint casts, of the sasquatch for more than 50 years. Photograph by: courtesy, John Green Archives

The sasquatch is shrouded in myth and mystery yet few topics of popular culture or scientific consideration induce such feelings of certainty among those who believe the creature exists and comical incredulity among those who don't.

However, there does exist a middle ground trod upon by some who indeed think the sasquatch is likely real but for whom its existence is an open question based on evidence from all over North America.

Harrison Hot Springs resident John Green falls into this category and has become a legend in the field of sasquatch--or bigfoot--research since he began his quest to find the elusive biped more than 50 years ago.

This past weekend some of the more prominent people in the field of sasquatch research convened in Harrison Hot Springs for a conference that also served as a tribute to Green and his dedication to the topic.

The Sasquatch Summit took place at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa with lectures and displays including footprint casts, possible hair samples and images from the famous Patterson-Gimlin film. The weekend culminated with a tribute banquet to Green and was attended by leading members in the field of sasquatch research from all over North America and beyond.

In the shadows

But is there really a species of large, bipedal, ape-like creature roaming the woods around Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs and the rest of North America?

Green thinks so but he hasn't come to that conclusion easily or without extensive research and consideration into the matter.

When confronted with the most obvious fact skeptics have for sasquatch searchers--why has no one come across a single bone of a dead creature?--the retired journalist doesn't shy away from the legitimacy of the question.

"That's very good evidence that there couldn't be any such creature," Green told the Times during a recent interview in his home. But he added there are two conflicting lines of reasoning "There couldn't be a creature like this without a dead one having surfaced. The alternative is that somehow humans are faking all the evidence but after 50 years now for me, they can't do it."

And for Green, those who reject the existence of bigfoot or sasquatch

out of hand, as most people do, need themselves to be more scientific about the topic.

"In this field things are upside down and backwards," he said. "The people who investigate are called 'believers' and the people who believe there can't be any such thing and therefore don't investigate are called 'scientists.'"

Idaho State University anthropologist Jeffrey Meldrum is one such scientist--a zoology expert in bipedal locomotion--who has taken an interest in finding out of the sasquatch could exist. Meldrum has been confronted with the attacks and dismissals from colleagues who know about his interest in the topic.

"As with most human communities, they run the entire gambit from enthusiastic interest to absolute visceral and irrational rejection," Meldrum told the Times during a recent telephone interview. "I'm sometimes amazed at the vitriol with which some people take exception to my pursuit of this."

A monster centennial

Green's interest in the sasquatch began when was a stringer for the Vancouver Sun in 1957. The government was preparing to celebrate the province's 100th anniversary in 1958 and was offering matching funds to each municipality to do permanent projects marking the centennial.

A member of the Village of Harrison Hot Springs council suggested spending the few hundred dollars hunting for the sasquatch.

Green did a story on the hunt for the Sun and the story exploded.

"I understand it now--I certainly didn't then--any kind of an official organization taking an interest in a monster suddenly becomes a story, a huge story," he said.

News outlets from as far away as Sweden and India took an interest in the sasquatch hunt.

"The provincial people held a press conference to announce which member of the royal family was going to honour the province and the reaction was, 'Ya, ya, but what

about the Harrison sasquatch?'" he said.

It was in the context of this hype that Green and his wife went to California in November of 1958 to look into some supposed sasquatch tracks.

He was met with serious skepticism among locals, so much so that he told the Times if it hadn't been for the attitude in B.C. the year before they would have turned around.

But it was at Bluff Creek in northern California that Green found clear tracks on logging roads. Those prints, and many others he found and made plaster casts of, have been said to be faked, specifically by a man named Ray Wallace, something Green calls "utter idiocy."

Just a few weeks after visiting Bluff Creek, Green went to see more tracks near a creek in hard sand that were very clear. He said that to test if those tracks could have been faked he tried jumping off a log. He found he had to land on one heel in order to get a small point of his boot in as deep as the tracks he found.

"OK, can humans make them? Deliberately fake them? The plain simple answer is 'no,'" he said.

Not taken seriously

For decades since first finding sasquatch tracks and making casts, Green has recorded sightings and gathered more and more evidence from all over North America.

Frequently he has garnered media attention, which has always ended in disappointment. News crews from BBC, CNN and Fox News have come to Harrison Hot Springs to do pieces of Green and the sasquatch over the years, but he said they always end in a comical dismissal of the phenomena.

Much to his frustration, the media have always given great credence to Wallace's claims that he has faked sasquatch tracks all over North America while pooh-poohing claims to the contrary.

"It is all utter idiocy and I spent months trying to get any media outlet whatsoever to pay any media attention to the plain evidence this was all nonsense and I never succeeded in the slightest," Green said.

And while skepticism about the existence of sasquatch may run much deeper than belief, there are serious and legitimate scientists who continue to have open minds, including Jane Goodall and George Schaller.

- See the Friday Chilliwack Times for part two of when we take a closer look at the scientific evidence as well as the local First Nations perspective.

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