Book Review -
Sasquatch: Bigfoot: The Continuing Mystery
By Thomas N. Steenburg
This modest work on Sasquatch in western Canada was first issued in 1990 as 'The Sasquatch in Alberta',
published by the now-defunct Western Publishers of Calgary. Bibliophiles can still obtain copies of that
first edition directly from the author. Hancock House, a larger and better known publisher with offices in a
suburb of Vancouver, B.C. and Blaine, Washington, on the international border, has taken the original plates
and reduced them to approximately 75 percent. Minor changes include redrawing of one figure, and changes
in the front and back matter. Most intriguing is the change in the dedication, perhaps explained on p. 63.
The one major change is the addition of one large chapter, Chapter 7, "B.C.s Hairy Giants." Strangely, the
pagination in the original was more traditional and professional than in this reprint. Both editions lack a list
of illustrations, numbers for the illustrations, or any consistent reference to them in the text. Someone at
Hancock House seems to like strange titles with multiple colons, as evidenced also by Wilson Duff's well
known Images: Stone: B.C. The work begins with a foreword by the late Vladimir Markotic. One interesting
point made concerns the smell of sulphur reported by some Sasquatch informants. The possible relationship
of this to the medieval European concept of the devil smelling like sulphur is proposed by Markotic.
The introduction which is not Chapter 1 is a generalized history of the Sasquatch in the manner of John Green, with the usual doubts and their answers in the manner of Grover Krantz. Chapter 1 is the story of a then 13-year-old girl who confronted a Sasquatch in 1972 near Big Horn Dam. The area is better known for a 45-minute sighting by five construction workers at the dam site. Steenburg's' acceptance of the girl's story would actually appear stronger if he had qualified his statements. For example, his first bullet (p. 16) would have been stronger if it had read "Prior to 1972, Debra apparently had no knowledge ..." This aside, her story has a naive ring of truth to it.
Chapter 2 is largely firsthand experiences in showing the difficulty of seeing or finding anything in the wilds of Alberta. Chapter 3 is a very detailed account of the experience of two couples (at one point, the couples seem to get strangely switched) in Waterton Lakes National Park. Steenburg quotes his interviews conducted separately with each of the four. It is interesting that they seemed more concerned about finding out from him what they had seen than about presenting their stories.
Chapter 4 is a brief review of the wide range of heights reported, and a layman's discussion of how morphological variation and sexual dimorphism might be the cause of this. Chapter 5 recounts two different episodes that resulted from Steenburg's newspaper ad requesting information. He essentially rejects one, and has serious doubts about the other. This should increase the value of those sources he does accept, or it could be clever writing. I would accept the former as the more likely.
The next chapter, with the title "Sasquatch Drinks Coors," is a brief review of "nut cases," such as Sasquatch being intergalactic travelers using UFO's, or the use of ESP to communicate with Sasquatch. This is a phenomenon that too many serious researchers pass over quickly to avoid contamination. I have long urged the study of this phenomenon, and consider it a legitimate field of study in and of itself. Steenburg is to be congratulated for not avoiding it.
Chapter 7, the new chapter on sightings in British Columbia, is by far the longest chapter, comprising 27 percent of the book. This is not a rehash of John Green, but new sightings with abundant personal interviews by the author. It begins with a brief review of the term "Sasquatch," but quickly moves into the sightings. As with the Alberta material, Steenburg first gives the facts, and only then gives his own evaluation.
Chapter 8 is a summary of the evidence giving a generalized description of the creature and its habits, and listing some of the possibilities of its origin, largely paralleling Krantz. The next three chapters (9, 10, 11) seem strangely out of place; they should have followed Chapter 5. They are a listing of sightings in Alberta that Steenburg seems to consider valuable. Like so many sightings, including the British Columbia material, they add more weight to a certain kind of evidence personal accounts that unfortunately is not accepted by the scientific world.
The last, unnumbered chapter, "Conclusions," is subtitled "To Shoot or Not to Shoot." Steenburg (p. 124) has logically and bravely taken what I would call the Krantz position on shooting: "I am persuaded that at least one must be shot in order to prove its existence and bring it into the historical, environmental, and scientific realm. Without proof of its existence the animal cannot ever be properly protected from possible extinction." Equally bravely, he says on the same page: "My personal opinion is that the animal does exist." Steenburg has put together a handy and highly readable account of new evidence from western Canada, added some firsthand interviews, and told us exactly where he stands. The work is weakened by a lack of footnotes or cited references, but it has excellent maps showing sighting locations in Alberta and British Columbia. The work is well bound and virtually free of typographical errors. In a field where a lot of duplication and out-and-out junk has recently appeared, this is a pleasant exception. I strongly recommend it to anyone building a library of serious Sasquatch material.