The Current

Is a sasquatch loose in Ontario? Maybe not, but there's no harm believing it, says author

A hunter in northern Ontario has shared a video of screams he heard in the woods, igniting a debate about whether the bellows came from a sasquatch. Whether it's true or not, writer John Zada says these creatures have played an important role in human cultures throughout history.

Video of unusual 'screams' in the woods sparks sasquatch debate online

A still from a 1967 film made by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin, which allegedly depicts a female sasquatch. (Bob Gimlin/YouTube)
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There's nothing wrong with believing in the sasquatch, according to a writer who has tracked the mythical beast's role in human culture.

In fact, he argues, there's almost a beauty in it.

"You have this creature, or this species of beings that are out there living wildly — and in a sense they're kind of free of the nettlesome, cumbersome dictates of our civilization," said John Zada, author of In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond: In Search of the Sasquatch.

"I don't necessarily think that it's a harmful thing to have these sorts of stories in our culture and in our society," he told The Current's interim host Laura Lynch.

Debate over the existence of the sasquatch was reignited after a hunter in northern Ontario captured some strange screams in the forest last month, and posted the footage online.

Gino Meekis was out in the woods with his wife and grandson, about 45 kilometres north of his home in Sioux Lookout, Ont.

Meekis told The Current that at first he thought it was a moose mating call, but as he listened more closely he couldn't match the sound to any animal.

After a few moments, he decided to leave because he could "hear something walking in the woods, quite a distance away."

"I'm still wondering what I heard. I listen to that video every day," he said.

According to Zada, people online have theorized that the sound may have come from wolves or moose, or it could have been another sound that had been echoed or distorted beyond recognition.

"There could be some kind of a more mundane explanation for it, because sound can behave in strange sorts of ways," he said. 

I don't really believe, but I'm open to the idea ... and that's good enough for me at the moment, I think.- John Zada, author

But he added that the area Meekis was in — and the area from northern Ontario into Manitoba — is "certainly known for sasquatch reports."

People have reported hearing a "hybrid of roar-scream-howl that shows some kind of really, really powerful lung capacity, and strength and volume," he said.

Sasquatch-like creatures in ancient cultures

Zada explored the history of the sasquatch when he travelled to the Great Bear Rainforest on the B.C. coast.

He described it as "a fairly remote area ... of unfathomable beauty, pristine, forest-mountain ecosystem, and it's also the home of a number of First Nations communities."

John Zada says Indigenous communities in B.C.'s rainforest region have stories of sasquatch-like creatures that date back centuries. (Credit: Andrew Bruce Lau)

Many of those communities have stories in their culture of supernatural beings that "correspond with these purported animals," he said.

"In the Nuxalk First Nation community of Bella Coola, it is the Sniniq or the Buks; in the Heiltsuk community, it is the Thla'thla."

The creatures are "stewards of nature," which "can be malevolent or benevolent depending on one's relationship" with them, he explained.

While the supernatural tales go back as far as these communities have existed, there are also contemporary sightings of unidentified animals just "living there, essentially."

Zada said the sasquatch appears in similar forms in cultures all over the world, but he acknowledged many sightings may be hoaxes.

"I'm not really a hardcore proponent of the existence of the creature. I'm deeply intrigued by the possibility of the existence of them," he said.

"I don't really believe, but I'm open to the idea ... and that's good enough for me at the moment, I think."


Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Ines Colabrese.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story misidentified the sasquatch-like creature mentioned in stories from the Heiltsuk First Nation. It is known as the Thla'thla.
    Nov 15, 2019 3:00 PM ET

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