Bigfoot Encounters

The Hairy Giants of British Columbia


Told by J. W. Burns, Government Indian Agent-teacher, Chehalis Indian Reserve, British Columbia and set down by Mr. C.V. Tench;
Illustrated by T. T. Vuneo.

This challenging article will undoubtedly arouse the derision of skeptics both in Canada and elsewhere. After many years of patient investigation, Mr. Burns, a responsible Government official shares the firm belief of his Indian charges that deep in the unexplored mountain wilds of British Columbia, there still lurk a few scattered survivors of the mysterious "Sasquatch" - primitive creatures of huge stature, covered from head to foot with coarse hair who have figured in Redskin legends for centuries. Mr. Burns recounts a number of seemingly well-authenticated stories of encounters with these uncanny "wild men" who carefully avoid all contact with civilization. Scientific expeditions had sought them in vain and it is generally supposed that - if they ever existed - the giants have long since become extinct - but the Indians remain unconvinced.

Before setting forth Mr. Burns's narrative, I should like to make it clear that he not only holds a highly responsible Government position as an Indian Agent, but is keenly interested in the subject of the "hairy giants," which he has studied for a number of years. He is confident that his charges are perfectly sincere in their beliefs; they are not in contact with tourists and have no reason whatever to "cook up" fables for the benefit of the unsophisticated. Moreover, the Indians are reluctant to talk about the "Sasquatch" even to him a friend of long standing, and absolutely refuse to discuss the matter at all with white strangers. They are simple minded, unimaginative folk; the invention of so many different stories of encounters with the wild men would be quite beyond their powers.

"I am convinced," said Mr. Burns, "that survivors of the Sasquatch do still inhabit the inaccessible interior of British Columbia. Only by sheer luck however, is a white man likely to sight one of them because like wild animals, they instinctively avoid all contact with civilization and in that rocky country it is impossible to track them down. I still live in hope however, of some day surprising a sasquatch and when that happens I trust to have a camera handy. And now for my story!"

Utterly terrified, the Indian raced madly toward the Chehalis River where his dugout canoe was moored. In pursuit lunged a giant of a man at least eight feet in height and broad in proportion. He was stark naked and covered from head to toe by a thick growth of black woolly hair.

In his fright, the Chehalis Indian Peter Williams completely forgot the rifle he clutched; he did not attempt to stop and fight it out. When he suddenly caught sight of the monster standing on the summit of a huge boulder, all reason fled, to be instantly supplanted by sheer panic as the giant growled and sprang toward him.

Heedless of the tangled undergrowth, the Indian plunged wildly on - occasionally jerking his head around to gaze affrightedly at the horror behind. Reaching the riverside he gave a frantic heave and the dugout canoe shot out into the turbulent stream. The water, however did not daunt the giant, he plunged forward in hot pursuit.

The instant the bow of the dugout scraped the opposite bank, Peter Williams leaped ashore. The giant was now almost in midstream swimming strongly. Once more the Red man took to his heels. Well-nigh dazed from exhaustion he finally reached the frame shack that was his home. Frenziedly he herded his wife and children inside, bolted the door and barricaded it with ever article he could lay hands on. Then with his rifle at the ready, he tremblingly awaited the giant's arrival.

Presently there came the sound of a heavy body forcing its way through the brush. Darkness had not yet set and peering through a crack, Peter Williams took a good look at the monster. It was undoubtedly a sasquatch - one of the well nigh fabulous "hairy giants," which according to Indian belief still inhabit the unexplored wilds of interior British Columbia.

Growling deep-chestedly, the huge figure made a circle of the hut. Then putting one shoulder against a wall, he pushed with such tremendous force that the flimsy dwelling shook. The timbers creaked and groaned so loudly under the strain that the Indian feared the roof would collapse and whispered to his squaw and children to crawl under the bed. They promptly obeyed leaving their terrified lord and master to face the monster alone.

To Peter's vast relief, however, the sasquatch failed to force an entry after prowling gruntingly around the house for several minutes he stalked away into the bush. Next morning the Indian found the giant's tracks in the mud outside the shack. The footprints measured 22 inches in length!!

The foregoing is a condensed account of what Peter Williams later told me took place. I have known him for a good many years, he is intelligent, honest and trustworthy. Speaking personally, I do not question the truth of his story for it is only one of many reports concerning the mysterious sasquatch or wild giants that I have heard first hand from Indians under my official care. The incident happened moreover in my own district - the Saskahaua area of British Columbia. The word Saskahaua means: "Place of the Wild men."

Indians won't talk

Before proceeding to relate further incidents connected with the mysterious Sasquatch, I ought to explain that for the past fifteen years I have occupied a Government position as Indian Agent stationed at the Chehalis Indian Reserve, some sixty odd miles from Vancouver British Columbia. My charges are also my friends and because I have always reciprocated their regard, endeavoring to help them in every way possible, the Chehalis Indians gradually took me into their confidence and eventually told me all they knew about the Sasquatch. A subject never previously discussed with any white man. Being naturally of a proud and somewhat aloof nature, they are extremely sensitive to ridicule and so avoid all mention of a topic which experience had shown merely exposed them to derision. If a white stranger inquires about the Sasquatch he is invariably met with the guarded reply: "No! White man won't believe. He make joke of Indian."

Although I have never personally encountered a sasquatch there is ample proof that hairy giants formerly inhabited the Chehalis District in considerable numbers. Its ancient name - "A place of the wild men" - was until recently, accepted as an echo of primitive superstitions, but the accidental discovery a few years ago of two crude cave dwellings confirmed the Indian legend that the later Troglodytic period of this region was the abode of human beings of huge stature. Survivors of this prehistoric race, the Red men believe, still lurk in the interior fastness.

Indian legends tell of two tribes of sasquatches who dwelt in this section of the country. They were deadly enemies and practically exterminated one another, fighting hand to hand with war clubs on the mountain sides.

Skeptics may laugh at the idea of primitive man in the shape of eight-foot giants, still living in British Dominion, but nevertheless I have collected a good deal of evidence tending to prove that the sasquatch may not be extinct.

The Indians are by no means unintelligent, nor are they prone to imaginative lying and when a keen-witted young woman such as Emma Paul declares that she saw one of the hairy giants close to her home one evening last summer, I feel convinced that she was telling the truth. Here is her story:

"I saw the sasquatch a few yards from the house. I was standing by the door at the time. He was watching me closely and I had a good look at his face. He was very big and powerful in appearance. Other members of my family were present and they saw him. We went inside and bolted the door but he prowled around the house for some time. Since then we have often heard the wild men. One of them used to rub his fingers over the windowpanes. Only a few nights ago, a sasquatch tramped loudly around the house. All of us heard him and so did the white carpenter who lives next door."

The Indians stoutly maintain that each summer the remnants of the sasquatch hold a sacred gathering near the summit of Morris Mountain, which commands a wide view of the vast solitudes all around. Prior to this rendezvous, the giants send scouts out to make certain the area is clear. It is these scattered investigators, the Red men believe that individual Indians have encountered.

Anthropologists all over the world are naturally keenly interested in the alleged existence of these hairy giants and about two years ago the University of California sent a party into the British Columbia wilds in search of the sasquatch; they were equipped for a lengthy expedition and knowing of my interest in the subject came to my home and sought my assistance in enlisting the aid of the Indian guides and packers.

The expedition that failed

In spite of the fact that they were offered ten dollars a day and "all found," not one of my Indians would volunteer for the trip, declaring that such a quest was doomed to failure. The sasquatch detecting the approach of so many strangers would immediately go into hiding. The Americans therefore set out without native helpers but in less than a fortnight they returned - gaunt and trail weary. Needless to say, they had discovered no trace of the wildman and they vowed that so far as ordinary white folk are concerned, the route to the top of Morris Mountain was utterly impassable.

They were very disappointed at their failure of course, and a few days after their departure, ironically enough, another of my Indians claimed to have encountered a sasquatch. This Indian - an old man name Chehalis Phillip - had previously told me that in his younger days he often saw the hairy giants. On this particular occasion, he was fishing for trout in Morris Creek, a tributary of the Chehalis River. His canoe was gliding quietly along the sluggish mountain stream, close to the rocky terraced bank when without warning a rock was hurled from the shelving slope above, falling with a tremendous splash within a yard of the canoe, almost swamping the frail craft.

Startled, Phillip hurriedly glanced upward and observed a huge man covered with hair leaping down the steep declivity with the agility of a panther. Under one arm he carried a bulky object that proved to be another boulder. Reaching appoint of vantage, the giant deliberately slung the big stone straight at the now thoroughly scared Phillip, missing the canoe by inches.

Believing that the sasquatch was about to dive into the water and attack him, the old Indian cast off his lines and paddled frantically away. Not all sasquatch are unfriendly however, apparently their individual characteristics are just a strongly developed as those of ordinary mortals as witness what an Indian named Henry Napoleon has to say: "The first time I found out for sure that the wild men do still live around here" Henry told me, "I did not see any of them. Some years ago, three other young men and myself were picking salmon berries on a rocky slope. In our search for fruit we suddenly stumbled upon a large cave in the side of the mountain. This discovery greatly surprised us for we thought we knew every foot of the mountain, but had never heard of a cave in that vicinity. Just outside the mouth of the cave lay a big boulder. We peered inside the opening, but could not see anything."

"Gathering some pitchwood we lighted it and began to explore. Before we got very far from the entrance, however, we came upon a sort of stone house or enclosure. We couldn't make a very thorough examination for out pitchwood torches kept going out. Finally we left intending to return in a couple of days and continue our search."

"Old Indians, to whom we told the story, warned us not to venture near the cave again as it was undoubtedly occupied by the sasquatch. But we paid no attention to them and went off to examine the cave once more. To our great disappointment and surprise we found that the big boulder had been rolled into its mouth, fitting as tightly as if it had been made for the purpose and we were quite unable to move it. Some years later I was out hunting deer in the same neighborhood. Just about dusk I saw something I took to be a big bear standing on it's hind legs but when I stopped and raised my rifle, the creature spoke in a tongue very much like my own. He invited me to come closer and when I did so I saw that he was a man over seven feet tall; his body was very hairy."

"At first I was terribly scared but his eyes looked kind and he asked me to sit down and talk. He told me that during the winter the sasquatch sleep like bears and that their home is on top of Morris Mountain where no Indian or white man could ever find them. The live on roots, fish and meat just like us Indians. Then suddenly it grew dark and he slipped away."

Another of my Indians, Charley Victor by name, tells the following story of personal contacts with the Sasquatch:

The Wild Woman

"There are now only a few of the wild giants of the mountains," said Charley, in his terse Indian dialect. "They are rarely seen and seldom met but some still live in the mountains around here. I have met them on several occasions. Some of the times I saw them nothing happened. We stood and looked at one another, but the last time was not a happy meeting. It happened this way: - "I was hunting in the mountains and had my dog with me. One day I came out on a plateau where there were several big cedar-trees. The dog rushed up to one of the trees and began to growl and bark."

"Looking up to see what had excited him, I noticed a large hole in the trunk about seven feet from the ground. The dog kept jumping at the tree and scratching, looking around to me to lift him up. When I did so, he dropped down inside the hole. Then there was an awful noise; I heard the dog growling and barking and something screaming. I thought my dog must be fighting a bear and holding my rifle ready, called to him to drive the animal out. A moment later something shot out of that hole. I fired and the creature fell to the ground. I looked at it, then I felt sick, for what I had shot looked like a naked white boy about twelve years old!"

"He was bleeding from a bullet wound in his leg but when I stepped forward he twisted away and let our a wild scream. From deep in the trees came a reply. Nearer and nearer came the voice and every now and again the wounded boy would cry out as if calling directions. Then out of the forest came a sasquatch woman. She was about seven feet tall, big built all over and her skin was as dark as mine; her long straight hair fell to her knees. She looked so big and strong that I am sure if she had laid hands on me, she could have broken every bone in my body."

"When I saw her I felt scared and instinctively I lifted my rifle in case I had to defend myself. The wild woman ran toward the boy, bent over him and then turned on me savagely, her eyes like balls of fire. In the Douglas dialect she growled: - "You have hurt my friend."

"I explained in the same language - I am part Douglas myself - that I had mistaken the boy for a bear and was very sorry for the accident. Anyway, I pointed out he was not badly hurt."

"She made no reply, but, picking up the boy as easily as if he weight nothing lifted him to her shoulder and strode out into the woods. I do not think the boy belonged to the sasquatch people because he was white skinned and she called him her friend. No, she must have stolen him as a child or run across him in some other way."

Another well-authenticated sasquatch encounter happened last September when Indian hop-pickers were having their annual picnic near Agassiz, British Columbia. It was alleged that a young Indian man and maiden named respectively William Point and Adaline August - both graduates of a Vancouver high school - had walked some distance from the picnic ground when they suddenly came across a sasquatch. Hearing of the occurrence and anxious to verify it, I wrote to William Point for particulars. Here is his reply:

Dear Mr. Burns,
I have your letters asking it true or not that I saw a wild giant at Agassiz last September while with the hop pickers there. It is true and the facts are as follows:

Adaline August and myself started for her parents' house, which is about four miles from the picnic grounds. We were walking on the railroad track when Adaline noticed someone walking along the grade coming toward us. I also saw this person and first thought it another man walking the tracks as we were. But as he came closer we noticed that his appearance was very strange and on coming still closer, we halted in amazement and alarm. We saw that the man wore no clothing at all and was covered with hair like an animal. We were both very frightened, I picked up two large stones with which I intended to use on him if he attempted to molest us, but within fifty feet or so he just stopped and looked at us. He was twice as big as the average man with arms so long that his hands almost touched the ground. His eyes were very large and as fierce as a cougar's. The lower part of his nose was wide and spread over the greater part of his face, which gave him a very repulsive appearance. Then my nerve failed me and I turned and ran. I looked back as I ran and saw that he had resumed his journey. Adaline August had fled first and she ran so fast that I did not over take her until we reached the picnic ground, where we told the story of our adventure. Older Indians who were present said that the monster we encountered was undoubtedly a sasquatch, a tribe of wild hairy giants now almost extinct who live in the district in tunnels and caves.

Assuring you of the truth of this,
Yours Truly,
William Point.

I do not doubt the authenticity, as he is both intelligent and well educated. And now let me illustrate how extremely sensitive the Indians are regarding the sasquatch and how indignantly they resent their word being doubted.

The Old Chief Broadcasts

On May 23rd, 1938 a festival known as "Indian Sasquatch Days" was held at Harrison Hot Springs, B.C. Having obtained special permission from the Department of Indian Affairs at Ottawa, I took several hundred of my charges to the event. Unfortunately, in his opining speech over the radio, a very prominent official of the British Columbia Government made a bad slip, thus offending all the Indians present who understood English. After a few preliminary remarks, this personage went on: "Of course, the sasquatch are merely legendary Indian monsters. No white man has ever seen one and they do not exist today in fact……"

Thereupon his voice was drowned by a great rustling of buckskin garments and the tinkling of ornamental bells as, in response to an indignant gesture from old Chief Flying Eagle, more than two thousand Red men rose to their feet in angry protest. Chief Flying Eagle then stalked across to the open space where the speaker stood, surrounded by important dignitaries and others. Absolutely ignoring the entire groups, Chief Flying Eagle turned to the microphone and thundered in excellent English:

"The white speaker is wrong! To all who now hear I say: Some white men have seen sasquatch." Many Indians have seen them and spoken to them. Sasquatch still all around here. I have spoken!"

The chief then strode back to his place and signed to the other Indians to sit down leaving behind him the Government spokesman whose face was exceedingly red! I was one of the party gathered about the microphone and immediately said a few words over the loud speakers to appease the angry Indians. I corroborated Chief Flying Eagle's statement that white men have seen sasquatch adding that, although in sadly reduced numbers, sasquatches are still believed to inhabit the vast mountain solitudes of unexplored British Columbia.

During the many years I have been delving into this fascinating subject of the hairy giants of British Columbia, I have come into possession of much well authenticated data. The oldest written record I have so far discovered is that of the late Alexander Caulfield Anderson. He was a noted explorer and pioneer adventurer and Caulfield, a suburb of West Vancouver, is named after him!

In the year 1846, then an inspector for the Hudson's Bay Company, Anderson was sent out by that company to establish a post in the then virgin wilderness in the vicinity of Harrison Lake. There was no doubt that he frequently encountered sasquatches because he mentions the wild giants of the mountains several times in his official reports. For the most part, he writes they were as wary as wild animals but on one occasion he and his party had to retire before a bombardment of rocks hurled by a number of sasquatches entrenched on a hillside.

Not until three years ago however, did I actually meet and talk with a white man who had seen a sasquatch with his own eyes. That man was a young mining engineer named Roy King. At first Mr. King was reluctant to relate his experience, fearing ridicule, but after I had convinced him of my own firm belief that the hairy men still inhabit certain sections of British Columbia's wildest regions he told me the follow:

The White Man's Story

Some two weeks previously, entirely alone he had been prospecting in the mountains adjacent to Harrison Lake. He had established his solitary camp beside a likely looking creek that churned it's turbulent way through rocky walls several hundred feet in height.

One evening on his way back to camp after a day of prospecting he was walking along the top of one of the walls. As he came within view of his campsite, he looked down and was surprised to see something moving. Thinking that it was probably a thieving grizzly bear, King stopped and unslung both his rifle and binoculars. Focusing the powerful glasses he was startled by the image they brought clear and close to his eyes - a giant of a man entirely naked and excepting for a small space around the eyes, covered from head to foot with black fuzzy hair. The monster was interestedly examining the prospector's personal belongings.

The young man admitted that at first he thought he had been too long alone in the wilderness and that he was seeing things. Then it slowly dawned upon him that through the glasses he was actually getting a close-up of the supposedly mythical sasquatch.

There upon he did the most sensible thing he could think of; stood perfectly still and quiet watching through his binoculars until a few minutes later, the giant strode off. Roy King then made his way slowly and cautiously down to his camp. He found that most of his possessions had been moved, but nothing had been taken away.

Mr. King's story bears out what the majority of the Indians maintain - that, the wild giants are neither belligerent nor thieves. On occasion, however they will purloin food when hungry.

Last fall, an Indian named Paul and his squaw were returning from a duck hunt carrying some half dozen waterfowl they had bagged. Suddenly a sasquatch stepped quietly out of the thick bush on one side of the trail and stood directly in their path. Utterly terrified, Paul and his wife dropped the birds and took to their heels. Some time later, accompanied by other Indians, they cautiously returned to the spot. But the sasquatch had gone - and so had the ducks!

Another Indian named Frank Dan, who asserts that he has seen the sasquatch on many occasions, told me that one night peering half-hidden from a window, he watched a sasquatch take two salmon from the branches of a small tree beside the house where he (Dan) had hung them to keep fresh until morning.

Again on a Sunday about a year ago, when most of the natives were at church, a sasquatch entered the village and seeing that all was quiet and nobody apparently about, went into one of the houses. An Indian who had stopped at home saw the wild man come out burdened with loaves of bread and smoked salmon.

Perhaps the strangest and most terrifying experience any Indian has had with the sasquatch is that related by an Indian woman named Serephine Long. Now very old, Serephine claims that many years ago when she was a young girl, she was kidnapped by a wild giant and lived in the haunts of the hairy monsters of the mountains for close on a year! She has told me the story many times, and I have set it down as nearly as possible in her own words.

What happened to Serephine Long.

Before doing so, however, I should explain that among the natives of Canada - both Indians and Eskimos - there is a shortage of marriageable girls. Probably a similar condition exists among the sasquatch, thus explaining the action of the wild giant in this case. I should also like to add that although her present day photograph hardly bears this out, the evidence of her contemporaries goes to show that in her girlhood, Serephine Long was considered one of the most comely girls in her tribe. Here is the story:

"I was walking toward home one day many years ago carrying a big bundle of cedar roots and thinking of the young brave Qualac (Thunderbolt), I was soon to marry. Suddenly, at a place where the bush grew close and thick beside the trail, a long arm shot out and a big hairy hand was pressed over my mouth. Then I was suddenly lifted up into the arms of a young sasquatch. I was terrified, fought, and struggled with all my might. In those days, I was strong. But it was no good, the wild man was as powerful as a young bear. Holding me easily under one arm, with his other hand he smeared tree gum over my eyes, sticking them shut so that I could not see where he was taking me. He then lifted me to his shoulder and started to run.

He ran on and on for a long long time - up and down hills, through thick brush, across many streams never stopping to rest. Once he had to swim a river and then perhaps I could have gotten away, but I was so afraid of being drowned that I held on tightly with my arms about his neck. Although I was frightened I could not but admire his easy breathing, his great strength and speed of foot. After reaching the other side of the river, he began to climb and climb. Presently the air became very cold. I could not see but I guessed that we were close to the top of a mountain."

"At last the sasquatch stopped hurrying, then he stooped over and moved slowly as if feeling his way along a tunnel. Presently he laid me down very gently and I heard people talking in a strange tongue I could not understand. The young giant next wiped the sticky tree gum from my eyelids and I was able to look around me. I sat up and saw that I was in a great big cave. The floor was covered with animal skins, soft to touch and better preserved that we preserve them. A small fire in the middle of the floor gave all the light there was. As my eyes became accustomed to the gloom I saw that beside the young giant who had brought me to the cave there were two other wild people - a man and a woman. To me, a young girl, they seemed very very old, but they were active and friendly and later I learned that they were the parents of the young sasquatch who had stolen me. When they all came over to look at me I cried and asked them to let me go. They just smiled and shook their heads. From then on I was kept a close prisoner; not once would they let me go out of the cave. Always one of them stayed with me when the other two were away."

"They fed me well on roots, fish and meat. After I had learned a few words of their tongue, which is not unlike the Douglas dialect, I asked the young giant how he caught and killed the deer, mountain goats and sheep that he often brought into the cave. He smiled, opening and closing his big hairy hands. I guessed that he just laid in wait and when an animal got close enough, - he leaped, caught it and choked it to death. He was certainly big enough, quick enough and strong enough to do so."

"When I had been in the cave for about a year I began to feel very sick and weak and could not eat much. I told this to the young sasquatch and pleaded with him to take me back to my own people. At first he got very angry, as did his father and mother but I kept on pleading with them, telling them that I wished to see my own people again before I died. I really was ill and I suppose they could see that for themselves because one day after I cried for a long time, the young sasquatch went outside and returned with leaf full of tree gum. With this he stuck down my eyelids as he had done before. Then he again lifted me to his big shoulder."

"The return journey was like a very bad dream for I was light headed and in much pain. When we re-crossed the wide river, I was almost swept away; I was too weak to cling to the young sasquatch but he held me with one big hand and swam with the other. Close to my home, he put me down and gently removed the tree gum from my eyelids. When he saw that I could see again he shook his head sadly, pointed to my house and then turned back into the forest.

"My people were all wildly excited when I stumbled back into the house for they had long ago given me up as dead. But I was too sick and weak to talk. I just managed to crawl into bed and that night I gave birth to a child. The little one lived only a few hours, for which I have always been thankful. I hope that never again shall I see a sasquatch."

That is Serephine Long's story, the only one on record of a sasquatch ever abducting an Indian girl. I could relate more instances concerning the wild giants of British Columbia - seemingly well-attested cases that I have collected over a period of many years - but in this article the few I have recounted must suffice.

Is it possible that primitive hairy giants still inhabit the mountain solitudes of British Columbia? Scientists and others may scoff at the very idea, but many Indians are sincerely convinced that sasquatch - or at least a few of them live to this day in the vast, unexplored interior. And like my Indians, I also believe.

© J.W. Burns, Indian Agent Chehalis Indian Reservation.
- ---
Published in "The Wide World, a Magazine for Men" January 1940. Vol 84 No. 502
The illustrations and photographs of the witnesses and area were not such that I could scan them.

My Note: A similarly worded article was published earlier in MacLean's Magazine dated April 1929. In that account, it says the Agassiz Indian hop-picker story occurred in September 1927. Other minor notations: Charley Victor belonged to the Skwah Reservation near Chilliwack not the Chehalis Reservation. The article was published in such tiny print that I was unable to scan it. I tried copying it after enlarging the font, but it only blurred it enough to make reading it impossible in places. Rather than go blind, I opted to hand word process the above article, which is almost the same stories with slight rewording. The one I couldn't read was shorter, this one was eleven pages of the same tiny print, but I was able to read it and word process it by hand through magnifying sheet-glass. ...Bobbie Short, 1995

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