If anyone is traipsing through B.C.s backcountry and come across an enormous furry mammal lumbering upright towards them from the woods, it could be one of two things:
Its either shirtless uncle Larry in dire need of a back wax, or the mysterious Bigfoot, or, referencing the term first used by J.W. Burns in the 1920s, a sasquatch.
On Thursday, April 18, a man who has claimed to have had several encounters with sasquatches will present The Art of Sasquatch In British Columbia at the Home Restaurant, 21667 Lougheed Hwy.
Presented by the International Society for Primal People Sasquatch (ISPP), the free event runs 5:30 to 9 p.m. and is being hosted by author and ISPP founder Thom Cantrall.
Maple Ridges Brian Bland, a self-described sasquatch experiencer is also taking part.
Bland, 54, has had a fascination about sasquatches since he was young, but it wasnt until he met area resident and sasquatch researcher Randy Brisson that he trekked into the woods to experience the creatures first-hand.
Bland and Brisson became friends and continue to go on sasquatch-sighting expeditions together.
While he has never seen a sasquatch, Bland said he has heard them knocking on trees, adding that he once heard them conversing amongst each other behind the heavy camouflage of the wilderness.
Were knocking [on trees] and saying, Hello, how are you guys? Bland related. They know him [Brisson]. If they feel comfortable with you and they pick up on somebody else, then theyre more likely to interact. If they dont like you or dont know you, then youll go in there [their habitat] for 50 years and you will never hear a peep from them.
Bland said hes experienced the creatures answering his and Brissons knocks with knocks of their own.
It was kind of funny because they did something that sounded like a machine gun, they were knocking so fast, Bland said. They must have had a stick between two trees or something. There was a humour to it.
Bland said hes sensed sasquatches, adding that theyve done some crazy stuff with me. Ive heard them talking, literally for 10 minutes. Talking.
He continued, Weve had rocks come out from the bush, weve been sitting on a beach and a big boulder would splash right in front of us, weve heard whistles, knocking, [theres been] smell
Believers like Bland can be found around the globe, and in the Pacific Northwest they have a support network in the ISPP, a volunteer organization devoted to fostering greater understanding of the phenomenon known in North America as sasquatch or Bigfoot.
Contacted by the TIMES at his home in Kennewick, Wash., Cantrall said he started the society as an educational tool and a way of protecting sasquatches.
[We need a] law that says, dont kill them, Cantrall said. Make them free from being murdered. We have the same law but it doesnt always work for us.
Cantrall, who celebrates his 70th birthday July 1, ran a logging company and did contract jobs establishing property lines on forest tracts and, during that time, says he had several encounters with sasquatches.
I was a forester for years, and I spent so much time quiet, totally alone, Cantrall said. Theyre very curious and they come around.
From about 1973 through to the mid-80s Cantrall did consulting work for large timber companies. The most common type of work was a bridge site survey on streams used by anadramous fish, salmon, or steelhead.
This activity is where I most often meet my visitors, Cantrall said, referring to sasquatches. Sometimes these were multi-day events and they would get curious as to why I was there.
He estimates that there are approximately 20,000 of these creatures scattered across North America, including B.C. (their prime habitat), Alberta, Washington State, Oregon, Northern California, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Florida.
This is a very rough estimate based on what I know of their lifestyle and clan sizes, Cantrall said. There are creditable sightings reported in all 50 states except Hawaii.
Bland said he doesnt want others to know Sasquatches exact location locally, for the creatures protection.
I dont want them hurt, he said.
Cantrall noted that sasquatches have been in existence for between 30 and 35 millenia.
That would put their origin about contemporary with our own emergence as Cro-Magnon, Cantrall said.
This is a subjective thing and not at all definitive. I think we both emerged about 30,000 to 35,000 years ago.
Sasquatches range from toddler-sized to females that stand between seven and eight feet tall, according to Cantrall.
The largest [male] Ive seen is over 10 feet, he said.
Asked why more people havent seen sasquatches, Cantrall compared them to cougars.
Theyre very elusive and dont want to have a lot to do with humans, he said. Comparing them with cougars, theres probably hundreds of times more [cougars] in North America and how many sightings of them are there?
Cantrall claims to have seen more sasquatches than he has cougars.
Sasquatches, not unlike any animal, wont become aggressive unless theyre provoked, he remarked.
I tell people, if you have a dangerous one, I will stand between you and them every time, Cantrall said. You hear stories of rock throwing and stuff like that but thats just juveniles who are going to get in trouble. Thats no different from juveniles of any species.
The April 18 meeting will focus on the sasquatches artwork and stick communication, and the research being done in that area.
The presentation will be followed by questions and discussion. There is no charge for admission but donations are accepted.
The ISPP can be found on Facebook.
@ Copyright 2013