Trail Ends For Legendary Bigfoot Researcher
(August 22, 1930 – April 18, 2001)
Mr. Dahinden, who was 71, collected hundreds of footprint casts and traipsed all over the
"His quest, his mission, was to have the government put some money into research and to convince the scientific community to do something about finding it and protecting it," Christopher Murphy, a friend of Mr. Dahinden's, said yesterday. "It never came about, because nobody ever found any proof, other than footprints. He thought most of the footprints were fake, the vast majority, but he believed in some of them. He put faith in the footprints because he said, 'They couldn't be left by the imagination.'
His pursuit of Sasquatch made him so famous that a few years ago the brewers of Kokanee beer asked him to play himself in a television commercial. Even then he didn't get to see the Sasquatch. Facing the camera, with the modest trailer he lived in as a backdrop, an off-camera voice asks if he ever used B.C.-made Kokanee beer to lure a Sasquatch.
"Do you think I'm crazy or something?" asks Mr. Dahinden, unaware that behind him a Sasquatch is sneaking into his trailer to make off with a case of beer. If it had happened as depicted, you can be sure Mr. Dahinden would have poured a puddle of plaster goop on the ground to make a cast of the footprint. Wherever he travelled, Mr. Dahinden had a collection of footprints with him. They were his touchstone to reality in a world where people armed with little more than absolute faith try to prove the existence of a mythical creature.
Dmitri Bayanov, in his book,
The film, shot by Sasquatch hunters Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin in 1967, was called a fake by many. But Mr. Dahinden, who bought the rights to some of the footage shortly after it was shot, believed in it. In
"As the meeting at the Institute began, over one hundred scientists and technicians, wearing white coats, assembled to watch the film. In Dahinden's words, 'the whole joint came to a standstill,' " wrote Mr. Bayanov. Mr. Murphy, who is writing a book about the film titled Circumstantial Evidence, said Mr. Dahinden was skeptical of many Sasquatch sightings, but he defended the film, even after it was widely dismissed as a hoax.
"For a long time I was never really able to nail him down on his view of the film. But towards the end he said: 'It's definitely real,' " said Mr. Murphy. Mr. Dahinden sold rights to the film several times to television producers, and used stills to produce Sasquatch posters, but he never made much money. To support his Sasquatch expeditions, Mr. Dahinden worked on the grounds of the Vancouver Gun Club, where he collected lead shot from spent shotgun shells.
"He worked really hard," said Mr. Murphy. "He'd go out and salvage the lead. He'd clean it off. He'd end up with hundreds of pounds of lead. He worked with his bare hands ... I don't think it could have been too healthy. He'd put it in bags and sell it back to the people who manufacture shotgun shells."
Mr. Dahinden was born in
Don Hunter, who in 1973 co-wrote the book Sasquatch, said that on hearing the report, Mr. Dahinden turned to the
And so the mission began. He promptly moved to B.C. and began his life's quest.
Mr. Hunter said Mr. Dahinden "investigated with an exhaustive thoroughness countless stories of Sasquatch sightings, thousands of footprints -- and not a few Sasquatch hunters themselves. He has badgered every branch of science in
He never did find out -- but his unwavering belief inspired others to take up the cause.
"He got calls from absolutely everywhere," said Mr. Murphy. "And he went everywhere. He spent years and years in the bush," he said. "He never, ever found anything when he was out on his own. But when he responded to others, to reports, he'd scout the area, and he'd find footprints. He'd take statements from people, he'd interview everyone.
"His passion overwhelmed him. But one day he said to me: 'You know, I've spent over 40 years -- and I didn't find it. I guess that's got to say something.' "
That's as close as he ever came to admitting defeat.
Mr. Dahinden died last week after a two year battle with prostate cancer. His memorial will be held at the Vancouver Gun Club, in
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