Sasquatch Devotee Says The Truth Stinks
Sasquatch Devotee Says The Truth Stinks By: Larry Pynn/Vancouver Sun
COPIED FROM: VANCOUVER SUN (on line - the web)
Last Updated: Friday 24 September 1999
Article Forward By: firstname.lastname@example.org (nelke)
A true believer believes the great unwashed -- the skeptics -- have low IQs.
John Kirk is so close to finding the sasquatch he can smell it.
In fact, he says, he did smell the Pacific Northwest's legendary ape-man two years ago while he was attending a group picnic in the Seymour Demonstration Forest in North Vancouver.
"I went for a walk in the forest and there it was -- two prints, 14 inches long by six inches wide," recalls Kirk, a Burnaby writer and president of the B.C. Scientific Cryptozoology Club.
And all around him was an equally potent sign. "It smelled like a combination of skunk and rotten eggs. That's a trademark of the sasquatch -- a bad smell."
Kirk is equally familiar with the pervasive air of skepticism that accompanies such stories, an annoyance he attributes to people with "low IQs" who haven't bothered to study the sasquatch literature.
Starting today in Vancouver, Kirk will find a more receptive audience at the third annual International Sasquatch Symposium at the Pacific Space Centre.
About 200 sasquatch devotees and researchers from across North America -- many of whom keep abreast of the latest discoveries on various Internet Web sites -- are expected to attend the five-day event.
There will be testimonials, native oral history, and the results of scientific field studies -- all designed to reaffirm the shadowy existence of the sasquatch, a Canadian name derived in the 1920s from the Chehalis Indian band near Harrison Lake.
In the U.S., however, the popular name for the creature is Bigfoot, a moniker that Kirk finds equally obvious and silly.
"Everything about sasquatch is big," he says with a mischievous tone.
"Why just the foot? You could call it all kinds of weird things."
But labels are just one of the issues that divide the sasquatch community. Kirk explains that "serious" researchers like himself have very little patience for the group that believes the sasquatch is some sort of "paranormal" phenomenon.
That would include the view of Sasquatch as a time-traveller and shapeshifter who's been know to arrive by spaceship and even abduct humans.
"Sasquatch has received a lot of publicity because of the tabloids," Kirk relates. "Headlines like, "I married Big Foot,' or, 'I Had Big Foot's Child.' It seems to capture America's attention. You try to be credible, but you have these idiots come along and tell the most fanciful stories."
To a mocking non-believer, it might seem strange that anyone open-minded enough to actually believe in Sasquatch would so readily dismiss the concept of one having arrived aboard a UFO.
But the division is so vast between these two Sasquatch factions that they will be separated at the weekend conference like fighting hockey players.
The paranormals have their forum on Friday, leaving the remaining sessions to the majority of what organizers call "straight-ahead" researchers.
"It's a funny aspect to human nature," agrees Stephen Harvey, president of the Vancouver Sasquatch Society, the vehicle by which a handful of enthusiasts stage the symposium. "They're not scheduled together. The straight-ahead people consider the paranormals to be way out there, the lunatic fringe."
Harvey got into the whole Sasquatch culture in 1990, when he moved to Harrison Hot Springs, a long-standing hotbed of sightings and interest.
He helped stage the Sasquatch Forum for four years in the small Harrison Lake community before moving it to Vancouver, for logistical reasons, and calling it the International Sasquatch Symposium.
"The goal is to eventually open a museum for Sasquatch and Ogopogo," says Harvey, who delivers Vancouver Sun newspapers for a living. "Somewhere in a tourist area of Vancouver."
The beauty of Sasquatch, Okanagan Lake's legendary Ogopogo serpent, and all the other cryptic creatures of the world's mountains and oceans is that their legends never die, simply because it is impossible to disprove them. Which, it is worth noting, doesn't exactly hurt the sales of books on the subject.
Kirk (by the way, he also claims to have spotted Ogopogo) is currently flogging his new book, In the Domain of the Lake Monsters. "They put it in the occult section," he laments. "It should be in natural history. But whatever sells best."
Paul LeBlond, a retired oceanography professor at the University of B.C. and one of the 100 or so members of Kirk's cryptozoology club, has co-authored, Cadborosaurus: Survivor from the Deep, about a prehistoric relic that supposedly once swam the waters of the Pacific Northwest.
And one of the paranormal speakers at the weekend symposium, Jack Lapseritis, of Trout Lake, Wash., has written Psychic Sasquatch. The list of popular pulp on the subject just goes on and on.
Of course, one cannot leave out Rene Dahinden, author of one of the early books, Sasquatch, in 1973, and, more recently, star of the Kokanee beer commercials.
You know, the one where he's asked if he's ever used Kokanee to lure in a Sasquatch. As he looks at the camera and says, "Do you think I'm crazy or something?," the beast makes off with the beer in the background.
Dahinden, a 69-year-old Richmond resident and Sasquatch researcher for more than 40 years, is also distinguished as owner of the publication copyright to the most famous piece of Sasquatch evidence to date. That's the 16-millimetre film footage shot by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin at Bluff Creek, Calif., in 1967 that purports to show a female Sasquatch walking away from the camera.
Doubters repeatedly try to debunk the film as depicting nothing more than a man in a monkey costume. And one investigator who used a computer to enhance several frames in the film recently claimed to have detected a suspicious fastener around the creature's waist.
But Dahinden, along with Kirk and a host of others, is unconvinced and continues to defend the film as the best visual evidence to date that Sasquatch does indeed roam the wilderness. They argue that the graininess of a 16-mm film simply cannot provide the sort of detail necessary under magnification.
"It's so ridiculous," Dahinden says, concerned about what the persistent rumour is doing to his investment. "It certainly doesn't help, that's for sure."
As for Kirk, he believes that part of the reason no one has come up with a Sasquatch carcass is because hunters are unwilling to shoot something so human-like. As well, he believes that logging and human pressures are forcing the creature farther afield, to remote parts of the Kootenays and central coast.
Still, Kirk has a dream. His fleeting experience two years ago gave him a tantalizing whiff of success. His dream is to ultimately see Sasquatch, a thought that fills him with excitement and more than a hint of trepidation.
Kirk is six feet, five inches tall, and weighs 200 pounds, but even he is daunted by the idea of coming face to face with a biped standing perhaps seven feet tall and weighing 500 pounds.
"I'd really like to see one," he confides. "But I look down on everything I see. To run into something larger physically and so shrouded in mystery. I'd be leery . . . but it would also be a revelation."
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