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Are there sasquatches on the back roads? (4 photos)

This week in part one of two stories, Back Roads Bill gets us ready for sasquatch in northern Ontario

Going back to the late 1980s, two interesting interviews stand out for Back Roads Bill. You should know this because the next two weeks of stories are about sasquatch, particularly in northern Ontario.

One occurred in Iceland with Jon Gnarr, actor, comedian, and politician who served as the Mayor of Reykjavik where the vast majority of the country’s people reside. He formed the Best Party, a political party that began as a political satire but the punch line was that he got elected quickly as a response to the country’s financial crisis. He turned into a real international celebrity. See the photo in the gallery above, it was a fun time.

The second was with John Bingernagel a Ph.D. researcher. Some scientists consider sasquatch to be the result of folklore, misidentification and a whole lot of hoaxes but not John. Sasquatch or bigfoot, many people still believe these humanoid creatures exist around the world, just like the yeti of the Himalayas.

Sasquatch expert interview

John Bingernagel has written two books and delivered many lectures on sasquatch with a serious interest in the North American sasquatch, both go beyond the debate. His first book, North America’s Great Ape: The Sasquatch - A Wildlife Biologist looks at the continent’s most misunderstood large mammal, was published in 1998.

After seven years of research, his second book, ‘The Discovery of the Sasquatch - Reconciling Culture, History, and Science in the Discovery Process, was published in 2010.

His wildlife research is now almost entirely focused on sasquatch anatomy, behaviour, and ecology, and on the discovery process as it applies to this subject. His videos can be found on YouTube by searching for 'Sasquatch Illustrated Lecture'.

John holds a B.S.A. degree from the University of Guelph and an MS and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.

For 30 of his 45-year-long career, he was an international wildlife biologist with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and with the United Nations, living and working in Uganda, Tanzania, Iran, and Trinidad and Tobago.

His work consisted of wildlife surveys, the preparation of wildlife conservation and wildlife management plans, and the training of wildlife technicians.

The first question to John, why is this is a taboo subject?

He said it was a long story.

If the sasquatch exists then a 7 foot tall, 800-pound upright primate has somehow missed becoming catalogued and included in the North American mammal lists and in North American mammal field guides.

This sounds preposterous. I have been Illustrating evidence that contradicts the widely held perception of the sasquatch as merely a cultural phenomenon-a myth, hallucination, imaginary being, misidentified bear, or hoax. 

Throughout the interview, he explains why criteria such as testability and predictive power actually support an alternative hypothesis:

The sasquatch as an extant mammal.

If the sasquatch exists then there is an uncatalogued primate species, likely a great ape in North America. This would extend global ape distribution beyond current accepted knowledge of great apes as only in Asia (orangutan) and Africa (chimpanzees, gorillas, and bonobos.)

This also appears preposterous.

Unlikely discovery claims (such as the sasquatch as existing) are treated as far-fetched claims and treated with scientific resistance.

He said because the sasquatch remains essentially unstudied by credentialed relevant scientists, the vacuum has been filled by amateur investigators,

Many of whom are dedicated and disciplined. But many extraordinary claims have been made for the Sasquatch as a paranormal being.

In addition, Sasquatch research as depicted in some television shows is a near-mockery of actual research. Scientists are, not surprising, repelled by such depictions and mistakenly ignore or even dismiss the entire subject.

It is simply a North American great ape, behaving like other great apes, but most often out of sight in the wilderness-and occasionally the back yards of North America.

Northern Ontario evidence

He recalled accounts of encounters near Timmins, tracks near Sudbury, eyewitness descriptions from near Geraldton and an excellent report from near Wildgoose Lake (west of Greenstone) below as cited in his book.

William (Bill) Webster is a retired dairy farmer who, while moose hunting near Wildgoose Lake in northern Ontario in 1982, had a sasquatch in the cross-hairs of his rifle scope but refrained from pulling the trigger.

His experience began when he grunted into his moose call from a small knoll, eliciting an unusual response: a 'club' being swung downwards by a large animal hidden in the adjacent bushes.

'This huge club came smashing down through the brush and you can imagine how amazed I was. It was a good-sized limb. If it had hit me I sure would not be here. I could see a small amount of black hair through the brush, black hair like a bear, but it was higher than my head. I took the safety off my .308 and held it where his chest would be if required to shoot. I stood frozen.

The animal left quietly but, following its silent departure, it threw five large rocks in Bill’s direction.

'I counted them: one, two, three, four, five — some big. I said to myself, ‘Billy, you better get out of here or you’re going to be killed.’ I had to retreat to the road.'

Leaving the knoll, Bill began walking along the logging road. By now the day was getting warm and, just as he reached up to unbutton the top button on his shirt, out he came right in front of him.

'I had the telescope of my rifle sighted at his vertebrae and could have downed him easily, but couldn’t do it. I hollered at him because I wanted to see his face but he just walked away.

'It was big—seven or eight feet tall. Its legs were short, but its arms were long. They hung down to its legs. Its shoulders were wide. The sides of the neck went straight up to the head. Its head was rounded. Its hair was dark, not jet black but sort of a brownish-black. The hair was not real long—one or two inches, like a dog, not shaggy.

'It walked on two feet, upright, just like a man. I couldn’t see its face because it was walking away from me. It walked slowly as if it wasn’t in a hurry.

Although he had his crosshairs on what he later referred to as its spine, Bill said that he was not a savage, and felt that the animal had 'more right to be here than I did.' Consequently, he decided not to shoot it.

He later backtracked the animal from where it had come out of the bush. The tracks were big, at least a foot long, and had five toes just like a human.

'I noticed they were square across the toes, not slanted towards the little toe like in a human foot. They were straighter across. The heel and toes made an imprint, even in the dry ground.'

John said Bill Webster’s report is of particular interest because it describes two unique elements of Sasquatch behaviour: the brandishing of a tree limb as a club and the throwing of rocks in his direction.

And finally, “The remarkable consistency of eyewitness reports and drawings across time and especially across geographical distance is compelling. It really does appear that the same species of upright, human-shaped mammal has been observed by eyewitnesses of varying backgrounds and circumstances across North America.”

A fan

Christine Byrnes is a Sasquatch investigator and is a member of Ontario Sasquatch (see Facebook). She met John and has an appreciation for both.

I investigated for evidence of Sasquatch on Vancouver Island.

The landscape looks formidable and does lend itself for soft footprints; unfortunately, I didn't find any!

River beds give more chances of finding some likely crossing potential. Our group of investigators did receive audible responses to our calls. High mountain ridges (for knocks and screams) using triangulation have each time there produced return responses.

When I met him it was because I was looking for books written by investigators using and presenting scientific evidence for the truth of Sasquatch.

My late husband being a forensic police officer was a major reason.

Many testimonials and books are written about visual contact. I began my search through researching for such an advocate for Bigfoot evidence and determined that John was indeed the 'real' thing as he, in his books, reports on documented and forensically proven evidence. John for this reason does not 'join' any group as his evidence is available to all who seek to find the truth and remains open-minded as like-minded cryptozoologists are.

He is an animated man when he discusses his findings and was very keen to listen to my investigation and personal history.

I told him that I brought bright coloured balls and left them around my tent (what doesn't like to play with bright attractive balls) and hung sparkling spinners above my tent to shine in the wind at night.

He did not suggest that this was something ridiculous and actually thought the ball ideas were innovative. So what I am saying, he is a great inspiration for all investigators and any event that he would give a speech and share his findings with would be proof to many doubters.

He has casts of many footprints he has personally found and also a copy of the Patterson-Gimlin bigfoot evidence. Amazing to really see this finding.

John brings back fond memories of meeting him several times. He gave Peter (Smith – Ontario Sasquatch) and me a casting that we cherish and re cast for investigations.

The world lost a great advocator for accepting the scientific proof of Sasquatch. His books are a testament to logical conclusions.


The reference above is to the infamous Patterson-Gimlin footage shot in 1967 in Northern California and has since been subjected to many attempts to authenticate or debunk it. The film runs for less than one minute, but one frame — 352 — has pretty much turned Sasquatch or Bigfoot into a household name. Have a look and the photo attached to this story; a worthy view of just more than one minute in length.

John passed away in 2018 and you can find his books here.

This interview has stuck with me because of the uniqueness of the content and my encounters with those who believe. Even the FBI has investigated, in 2019, the FBI released its four-decade-old file on a Bigfoot inquiry.

Next week we will look at Sasquatch encounters in Northern Ontario through a variety of resources.

To create the context have a look and listen at these two, short YouTube clips, one is an NBC national television report via a trail cam story and the other is courtesy of National Geographic. And just in from the organization Ontario Sasquatch, a notification that Bigfoot Quest Magazine - Winter 2022 edition is now available.

As Christine and many others say: “The truth is out there.” Stay alert out there on the back roads and “back yards,” as John says. You may be the one being watched!

Bill Steer

About the Author: Bill Steer

Back Roads Bill Steer is an avid outdoorsman and is founder of the Canadian Ecology Centre
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