Bigfoot Encounters

The Story of Jacko 1884

A local newspaper call The Colonist in Victoria, British Columbia, published the following extraordinary story in it 4th of July issue, 1884, under the headline, "What is it?"   

A strange creature captured above Yale. 
A British Columbian Gorilla 

"In the immediate vicinity of No. 4 tunnel, situated some twenty miles above this village [Yale] are bluff of rock, which have hitherto been insurmountable, but on Monday morning last were successfully scaled by Mr. Onderson's employees [sic] on the regular train from Lytton.   

Mr. Costerson, the British Columbia Express Company's messenger and number of men from Lytton and points east of that place succeeded in capturing a creature, which may be truly half man and half beast. 

"Jacko" as his captors have called the creature is something of the gorilla type, standing about four feet seven inches in height and weighing 127 pounds.  He has long black strong hair and resembles a human being with one exception, his entire body, excepting his hands or paws and feet is covered with glossy hair about one inch long.  His forearm is much longer than a man's forearm and he possesses extraordinary strength, as he will take a hold of a stick and break it by wrenching it or twisting it, which no man living could break in the same way. 

Since his capture he is very reticent only occasionally uttering a noise, which is half bark and half growl.  He is, however, becoming daily more attached to his keeper, Mr. George Tilbury, of this place, who proposes shortly starting for London, England to exhibit him.   

His favorite food so far is berries and he drinks fresh milk with evident relish.  By advice of Dr. Hannington raw meats have been withheld from Jacko, as the doctor thinks it would have a tendency to make him a savage. 

The mode of capture was as follow:  Ned Austin, the engineer on the coming in sight of the bluff at the eastern end of the No. 4 tunnel saw what he supposed to be a man lying asleep in close proximity to the track and as quick as a thought blew the signal to apply the brakes.  The brakes were instantly applied and in a few seconds the train was brought to a standstill. 

At this moment the supposed man sprang up and uttering a sharp quick bark, began to climb the steep bluff.   

Conductor R.J. Craig and express messenger Costerton followed the baggage man and brakemen, jumped from the train and knowing they were some twenty minutes ahead of schedule immediately gave chase. 

After five minutes of perilous climbing the supposed demented Indian was corralled on a projecting shelf of a rock where he could neither ascend or descend.  The query now was how to capture him alive which was quickly decided by Mr. Craig who crawled on his hands and knees until he was about forty feet above the creature.   Taking a small piece of loose rock he let it fall and he had the desired effect of rendering poor Jacko incapable of resistance for a time at least.  The bell rope was then brought up and Jacko was now lowered to terra firma. 

After firmly finding him and placing him in the baggage car, "off brakes" was sounded and the train started for Yale.  At the station a large crowd who had heard of the capture by telephone from Spuzzum Flat were assembled and each one anxious to have the first look at the monstrosity.

They were disappointed as Jacko had been taken off the machine shops and placed in charge of his present keeper.   The questions naturally arises, how came the creature where it was first seen by Mr. Austin?

From bruises about it's head and body, and apparent soreness since it's capture it is supposed that Jacko ventured too near the edge of the bluff, slipped, fell and lay where found until the sound of the rushing train aroused him.   Misters Thos. White, C. E. Gouin as well as Mr. Major (who kept a small store about half a mile west of the tunnel during the past two years) have mentioned having seen a curious creature at different points between Camps 13 and Camp 17 but no attention was paid to their remarks as people came to the conclusion that they had seen either a bear or a stray Indian Dog.   

Who can unravel the mystery that now surrounds Jacko? Does he belong to a species hitherto unknown in this part of the continent or is he really what the trainmen first thought he was, just a crazy Indian? 

 An old man named August Castle who was a child in the town at the time subsequently confirmed newspaper accounts of Jacko. 

The fate of the captive is not known, although some said that he was shipped east by rail in a cage on the way to be exhibited in a sideshow but died in transit.  The same paper recorded a consistent stream of other sightings from then on.

© Myra Shackley, 1983 pg 35 -"Still Living, Yeti, Sasquatch and the Neanderthal Enigma" 

Other comments concerning Jacko:

John Green and Sabrina Sanderson  (Mrs. Ivan Sanderson) wrote about the Jacko story being
"a newspaper hoax" in an article entitled, "Alas, Poor Jacko," in Pursuit 8: 1 (Jan 1975), pages 18-19. Pursuit was a Journal published by Ivan T. Sanderson's “Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained,” long defunct.  

Looking at other contemporary (i.e. 1884) news articles, Green was able to discover that other newspapers had looked into the report of the "What Is It" (Jacko) and had concluded that no such animal was caught.

Green, at the time, felt The Jacko Story was a piece of fiction and unknown persons fooled the news
paper, The Colonist into printing it.
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In response, John Kirk wrote: "I therefore must ask the question: why did people like Chilco Choate, who is quoted in Green's own book, "Sasquatch Apes Among Us" Hancock House 1978 (note this is three years after The Pursuit article was published), relate that his grandfather was there at the time and described Jacko as an ape? 

There is also the letter to John Green from Adela Bastin whose mother remembered the stories of Jacko as they were still being discussed by the people of Yale. I am very curious to know why the so-called contradictory reports in other papers accusing The Colonist of hoaxing do not occur in John's book?

If this was hoax and John and Mrs. Sanderson exposed it in The Pursuit in 1975, why was this not clearly stated in the book?  I don't really care one way or the other if Jacko was a Sasquatch. I am just puzzled by the contradictory statements that have arisen over this whole episode. Let's please ask John Green to clarify this here once and for all. Over to you JG." Comment by John Kirk
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John Green's reply:
"There is evidence on both sides of the question of Jacko. Unless something new comes to light there is no way to be sure whether the story was genuine or a hoax. John Green" 
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Rene Dahinden's response: "Green always straddles the fence. For years he said the Jacko story was true and had excellent sources, even published the piece in his own 'Advance' newspaper. Now Green claims otherwise. For 35 years, this has been John Green; says one thing one day and another the next, you can't always trust Green's word." ...Rene Dahinden
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Grover Krantz on Jacko: "I tend to agree with Shackley, she mounted a huge investigation into the subject." Grover S. Krantz, Ph.D.
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The Frazer River Canyon is where the strange creature, and by some people - thought to be a young Sasquatch, (called Jacko) was captured in 1884, all the rhetoric and speculation in the world won't resolve the Jacko story,  we will never know the truth of it. Still, the most
exhaustive investigation was launched by Dr. Myra Shackley, Ph.D.
..... Bobbie Short 1994
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