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It is a common fallacy to believe Bigfoot sightings had a beginning and an ending in some presumedly hoaxed footprints in California in 1958. The press had a field day a few years ago, when the man suspected of making the prints died. One would have thought that was all there was to it. Nothing could be further from the truth. In my home province of Alberta, for example, sightings go back to at least 1938 in modern times, and to 1811 when explorer David Thompson spotted some prints near present-day Jasper on the Athabaska River.
One notable encounter involved a ten-year-old girl who was a member of the Stony tribe back in 1944. Together with her aunt, uncle, and various cousins, she was traveling west of Rocky Mountain House in a horse-drawn wagon on a dirt road, now the David Thompson Highway between Red Deer and the Columbia icefields. When the wagon came to an abrupt halt, all the children in the back stood up and observed a seven- or eight-foot-tall manlike creature covered with hair standing in the road about 100 yards in front of them. The girl’s aunt told the children to lie down in the back of the wagon while she threw a blanket over them, while her uncle exclaimed “Msnapeo!” and turned the wagon around for home.
The United States had a wave of sightings of Bigfoot-like creatures in the late 1860s. There may have been some in Canada as well during this period, although the only direct reference I could uncover was somewhat ambiguous. It appeared in the Victoria, British Columbia, Daily Colonist on October 6, 1860.
The piece, titled “An Indian Tradition,” tells of the Sim-moqui. It is unclear whether the reference is to a forgotten race of hairy humans or to a Sasquatch gathering. The creatures were described as having heavy black whiskers and matted hair, but without knee or elbow joints. It was said that they never traveled in the daytime, as the sunlight rendered them as blind as bats. They were said to have red eyes (this is a common Bigfoot feature when one is caught in car headlights).
The legend says that a group of Sim-moqui seized some Indian women and were eventually hunted down by the Planimooches tribe. Over a dozen were brought down by rifle fire, and the women were rescued. When asked, the narrator of the tale stated they continued to exist in the 1860s, saying that lots of them were still around: “They live by the side of a lake on a big mountain, and the shores of the lake are covered with gold.”
Were the Sim-moqui merely members of a rival tribe, or something else? You be the judge.
Meanwhile, far to the south and east, Bigfoot sightings in the U.S. were kicked off in 1855 by what may have been a baby specimen in Waldorboro, Maine. A man chopping wood encountered an object standing between two trees. He chased it and succeeded in capturing it. The creature was male, about 18 inches in height and readily consumed water and beechnuts. With the exception of his face, hands, and feet, he was covered with jet-black hair. The man chopping wood, J. W. McHenri, offered in his letter to the editor to show the creature to anyone who was interested.
The Milwaukee Sentinel presented a story which was later picked up by the Halifax Morning Chronicle on September 9, 1867. Titled “A Milwaukee Mystery: A ‘What-Is-It,’” at first blush it seems to be yet another tale of a feral human being. Nevertheless, there are elements, such as a piercing shriek, that appear to place it squarely in the Bigfoot camp. ...read the rest of this article exclusively in the September-October 2008 issue of FATE. Click here to buy this issue now!