Here is a story run as a series of articles in some small weeklies, melded into one post
Part 1 April, 1987 was a disastrous month for the Fisher family. Our farm was visited by a Sasquatch, with the result that our teen-age children were all bullied, ridiculed, marginalized, and we were branded hoaxers in search of publicity for some undescribed purpose. First some background, then the story.
Our pasture was a fence around 80 acres of bush, with miles of trails made by a bulldozer willy-nilly all over it. The cows made a cowpath, a foot or two wide, worn down to bare earth, down the centre of all these trails. Our animals were free to wander this pasture, but of course in winter they stayed around the barnyard, so in April these paths were undisturbed sloppy mud.
My wife Louise had no problem going back to sleep if disturbed in the night, while I did, so at lambing time I would check the sheep before bedtime, and she would get up at 3 am or so and go check again – lambs born outside in March do not survive for long. One night in late March, 1987, she had the sensation of being watched while wandering around the barnyard at 3 am, so strongly that she fled to the house, and I had to take up the night inspection from then on, sleep-deprived or not.
On April 7, 1987, a beautiful evening, snow mostly gone, I decided to go spread some granular fertilizer by hand along those trails making up our pasture, and in doing so came across a procession of very unusual tracks. With cattle and horses and sheep and kids out there, and remembering my wife’s experience a few weeks before, I felt I had to take the matter to the MNR.
The game wardens response was that it was probably just a bear; still, not one but three of them came out to look, carrying a 12 gauge shotgun just in case. They were able to trace the creatures’ trail for about a quarter of a mile on those muddy cowpaths until he went into heavy bush. After consultation, their spokesman said to me “this is not any animal known to us, therefore it is a police matter, and we will leave it in your hands.” That implies a hoax of course, but we both knew that was not the case – it was obviously impossible for a hoaxer to make such a trail and leave no sign. After a bit of silence he added under his breath “I wouldn’t say the word ‘sasquatch’ if there was one lying dead at my feet.”
With what I know now, I would have taken the same tack, it could have been worth his job and certainly his reputation. So that was no help with my concern that a strange creature was hanging around my pasture, but as matters developed we had a lot more concern about people than about strange critters in the next weeks.
My wife’s coffee group inspected the tracks the next day, and took a plaster cast of one. It is sort of like a human foot, but flat, no instep, and very wide, with big strong toes. It had flat toenails, not claws, and the cast even showed a fingerprint pattern.
Part 2 Part one told of the appearance of about a quarter mile of Sasquatch tracks on the Fisher farm. Word spread like wildfire, and within a couple of days literally hundreds of people came to look at the tracks. Many more stayed away and scoffed at us, our whole family was scarred by the ridicule we took.
The Observer even sent out a reporter, a nice young lady fresh from the city journalism school, wearing white jeans and running shoes, with her yellow sweater tied by the sleeves around her neck, and her sunglasses pushed up into her hair. My wife was one of the nicest people you would meet; unlike me, she never argued with anyone (if she disagreed with what you said, she would just smile and say “that’s nice”). After some conversation, she offered to lend the young lady a pair of farmer’s high rubber boots to go see the tracks. She refused, obviously such footwear would not go with her image, even after my wife reminded her they would be going through a barnyard in April (!), then wading through shallow mud and water out to the site.
To avoid the manure, Louise took her around the barnyard where they had to cross a substantial fence. Louise explained we needed such a fence to keep the wolves out of the sheep, and even so occasionally one gets killed by wolves. “So, what do you do when that happens?” from the young lady. From Louise “Oh, we just call the trapper whose territory this is, but he doesn’t have much luck – “ interrupted by “What kind of trap does he use?”. Louise kind of lost it then, and answered “I am sure he follows the law, but I really don’t care, if you saw one of your pet lambs torn apart and half-eaten you probably wouldn’t either!”
The reporter, by now her white jeans spattered with mud and her running shoes a mess, said “Well, I think you are a horrible person if you don’t care about the wildlife, and anyway this is obviously a hoax!” and she started back. Louise trudged back the shorter route through the barnyard; she thought she heard a wail “How will I get back” and ignored it, and after a while the car drove away. Good thing, the last thing we needed was more publicity.
The above is a bit of fun at the expense of the green reporter from the city, but I do not fault her, the majority of people would agree with her. We were astonished that people we thought were friends suddenly became distant. People instinctively dislike and avoid the unknown.
Part 3 Here are some comments which came to us from assorted people after our unfortunate Bigfoot encounter.
“I have been a trapper all my life, but I never saw anything like those tracks. I figure the creature walked on its hind legs with about a 3 foot stride, but in a slouchy way, flat-footed and pigeon-toed with each step directly in front of the last, which is not how people walk (here he demonstrated his idea of the stride). He must have weighed at least 500 pounds by the way he sunk in the mud of the cow-trails he was following. It was definitely not human.”
“We live about a mile west, across the river. About the time of the Fisher’s event, our (pretty big) dog went roaring off into the bush one evening, then we heard a loud scream, then a heavy thump as something struck the house. When we looked out, there was the dog, laying there unconscious as though he had been picked up and thrown against the door.”
(a neighbour) “I was out in the back yard when my neighbour up on her elevated deck hollered ‘look at that, there is a bear running on his hind legs across the big field behind our places’. By the time I got up there it was gone. That was a day or two after the Fisher’s encounter”
“About 1975 I was riding along a country road south of Minnitaki on my old Scorpion snowmobile, when a big cat jumped over the snowbank in front of me, I think he was just crossing the road and surprised to see me, he ran alongside for a bit before he jumped the other snowbank and went on his way. He had a long tail, clearly a cougar and not a Lynx or Bobcat, but the Ministry just laughed at me, ‘no cougars here’, they said. Of course now they accept we do have cougars. So maybe one day they will stop laughing at your Sasquatch”.
(A couple of years later) “I stopped at Max Nauman’s store at Dinorwic on my way to Sioux Lookout, and there was a car in the yard full of an American family. They were all excited; they said they were on their way down from Sioux Lookout when they got pictures of a black hairy creature bigger than a man or bear, walking on its hind legs. They said it crossed the highway just ahead of them, so they got some good pictures. I figure that would have been in the summer of 1987.”
A final note on local Sasquatch stories, there was a well-publicized sighting of a very large such creature near Waldhof, I think back in the 20’s.
Part 4, a sequel The world has changed in the past 30 years, and apparently it is no longer socially unacceptable to talk about unexplained things like the Sasquatch. I got no scornful commentary on my Bigfoot story after it appeared in nespapers, and feel emboldened to add a subscript.
You might recall Louise’s ladies circle made a plaster cast of one of the Sasquatch footprints. As previously noted, many people were very skeptical of our story, and would ask to see the cast. They would say “Oh, look, it even has fingerprints”, while rubbing same so the fingerprints gradually disappeared. One even said “Ooops”, as he dropped it and it broke into several pieces. So I made a display case for it, gluing it to the back of the case, so folks could see but not touch.
Some twenty years after our event, my brother sent me his Alumni Journal from Western University, which featured a paper on “Cryptobiology”, by John Bindernagel, Professor of Cryptobiology from UBC. Cryptobiology is the study of evidence of unknown species; I didn’t know there was such a thing till then. I thought Professor Bindernagel would appreciate knowing about our experience, and I sent him a copy of the report I had sent MNR at the time of our incident. He was very interested, and after some correspondence we agreed that I would send him our plaster cast, for his evaluation and to add to his rather large collection of Bigfoot casts.
Unfortunately the cast came loose and rattled around in its case while in transit and was broken into a number of pieces. It was so damaged that the good professor did not want to add it to his collection, but at the same time he was reluctant to send it back in case of more damage. As it happened I was travelling to Vancouver Island a year or two later, so I brought it home. It is in several pieces, the fingerprints are barely to be found, and even the toenails (not claws) are not as easily seen, so it is much less dramatic because of its travel misadventures.
I had a long conversation with Professor Bindernagel at his house when I picked up the cast, and I have since bought a copy of his book “North America’s Great Ape – The Sasquatch” – a good, factual, not evangelical read. He pointed out that my cast is like the others he has in that it is less like a human foot than like a human hand with an elongated palm and toes instead of fingers and thumb. There is a pronounced crease across it like that on your palm, no arches, and no ‘ball’ like the ball of your foot. Also it is very coarse and heavy, definitely not a ballet dancer.
Otherwise, he said it is unusual, being much smaller than others in his collection, perhaps indicative of an immature animal (we have all seen how adolescent beavers and skunks are kicked out of their home and get killed on our highways as they search for a new one; perhaps that was what was happening here). It is much more tapered than most; the toe portion is much bigger in proportion to the heel. This could just be reflective of the particular track the ladies selected to make the cast, or maybe we have our own Northwest Ontario species; his other casts are all from the west. Anyway, I still have the cast, still in its case but broken up some. Enough Sasquatch.