It’s big. It’s hairy. And if you’re lucky enough, you might just catch a glimpse of it in the Yukon.
The elusive sasquatch has intrigued Whitehorse resident Red Grossinger for the last 25 years, so much so that he’s compiled a book about it.
Grossinger, who identifies as Métis with Algonquin-Huron ancestry, is a retired Canadian army officer originally from Quebec. His interest in sasquatch was sparked after spotting an unusually tall, two-legged creature while fishing on the Takhini River in 1997.
“It looked strange to me,” Grossinger recalls. “I mentioned it to one of my friends from the Teslin Tlingit (Council), and the lady mentioned quite clearly, ‘Well, that’s a sasquatch, a wild man.’”
Others believe sasquatch is a big hairy, ape-like creature.
Grossinger has written extensively about sasquatch and investigated numerous sightings in Yukon and northern B.C. over the years.
Many of those reports have been compiled into his new book Nahganne: Northern Tales of the Sasquatch that was released earlier this month.
Nahganne is the Dene word for sasquatch. Grossinger says there are many names for the creature, although he takes issue with one name in particular.
“A lot of people call it Bigfoot which I despise. It’s the same as calling someone big ears, big nose.”
Grossinger says he’s personally investigated many of the reports featured in the book, including one encounter that still puzzles him to this day.
He says, in 2011, a man witnessed a tall, sasquatch-like figure walking down the street in a Whitehorse neighborhood.
Then something unexplainable happened.
“(The sasquatch) became somewhat translucent and gradually became transparent. (The man) said, at one time, he could see the outline, he could see right through, see the bush behind (it). Soon after there was nothing left.”
Grossinger says there have been reports of sasquatch tracks ending seemingly out of nowhere in B.C. and the Northwest Territories.
“What happened to the track maker?” Grossinger asks. “Who the hell was walking there?”
Tahltan Nation member Grant Pauls had a similar experience that is shared in the book.
Pauls says in the fall of 1995, while moose hunting near his home community of Ross River, Yukon, he fell asleep in the bush and awoke to strange, heavy noises.
He returned near the area two days later and claims he saw two figures on the side of the road. Unable to see them clearly, Pauls assumed they were other people camping in the bush.
“I was kind of embarrassed because I had been calling using a moose call and decided that I’d go see them and ask how my call was and have a good laugh,” he recalls.
But upon getting closer Pauls says there was no sign of a camp.
“My mind started racing, ‘What did I actually see?’ Because in the moment of initially seeing them, these people are big, they’re quite big,” he says.
“There was no sign of them, so, in my mind, I was like, ‘I got to get out of here.’”
Pauls estimated the size of the figures to be around eight- or nine-feet tall with shoulders of four- to five-feet wide. He says the incident scared him enough that he didn’t go hunting in the bush for a few years afterwards.
Pauls says he decided to share his story as a warning to others to be respectful and have good intentions when going into the bush.
“I don’t know if they would harm you or not, but it’s very disturbing,” he says.
While Pauls has been open in sharing his story, Grossinger says most First Nations people in the territory have been reluctant to speak about their encounters.
“That has to be respected,” he says, “but they know a lot more than we do.”
As for proving sasquatch’s existence, Grossinger says bones or a body would help solve the mystery.
Until then, he’ll leave it to his readers to decide if they believe in Nahganne.
“I’m not trying to convince anybody at all. I’m presenting what it is and that’s it, if you want to believe it OK, if not – too bad.”