Frame 352 of the Patterson-Gimlin Film

In the News

One Gigantic Jogger

Footprints found near a Saskatchewan home are too big to be human

by Shafer Parker Jr. -- Alberta Report / Newsmagazine -- August 24, 1998

In 1812, Georges, Baron Cuvier, the "Father of Paleontology," declared that "there is little hope of discovering new species" of large animals. He was wrong. Since Cuvier's time scientists have discovered numerous large animals, including several species of antelope and the pygmy hippopotamus. In the last 10 years alone, scientists have discovered a new shark, a previously unknown whale and a new octopus. The Vuquang ox, a species of cattle that lives in Vietnam, was described only in 1993.

However, despite Cuvier's error, today's scientists remain sceptical about reports of animals not hitherto known to exist. That is why the anthropology department of the University of Saskatchewan gave Dennis Gamble such a cool reception last month when his wife Janet discovered a trail of huge footprints, each about 14 inches long and seven inches wide, on the access road leading to his home. Mr. Gamble, who lives on the Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation reserve halfway between Saskatoon and Prince Albert, tried to interest U of S anthropologists in the possibility that Bigfoot or Sasquatch had visited his front yard. "They just weren't interested," Mr. Gamble says. "They told us to talk to the RCMP."

Mrs. Gamble first discovered the footprints as she left her yard for a Sunday evening jog. "My two boys and I were just starting to do some yard work," recalls Mr. Gamble, an employee with Corrections Canada, "when my wife came running back yelling at us." She told her husband she had seen a huge footprint in the fine sand of the driveway.

As the family looked more closely, they realized the footprints continued beside the road in the softer grass. "In the sandy area you could see the indentations of the five toes and the heel mark," Mr. Gamble reports. "The footprints were about a half-inch deep in the sand, and two inches deep in the grass where the ground was softer." The footprints indicated a stride of about six feet. He says he also found a handprint in the dirt in his yard with a clearly outlined palm and indentations that looked as if five fingers with a 12-inch spread had been pressed into the earth.

Mr. Gamble compared the footprints to his own-he weighs about 200 pounds-and found he only created a slight impression in the sand and no noticeable sign in the grassy area. "I grew real quiet," he says, "when I thought about who or what was walking close to my house. I'm still quiet whenever I think about it." Mr. Gamble used drywall plaster to make casts of two of the prints, though later one of them was broken. But he decided to keep the hand and fingerprints, located much nearer his house, a secret from the horde of journalists and visitors that descended onto his property.

Though Mr. Gamble doubts that the tracks have any mystical meaning, he reports that elders on his reserve have said the signs are those of a mistysen, translated "big man," a legendary creature that does not go near people and always hides. He says he has never heard of any previous sightings in his lifetime. But Eugene Gardypie, a friend of the Gambles, told the Prince Albert Daily Herald that tracks had been spotted "in at least a square mile around the Gamble's place," and strange droppings, which were neither human nor from any familiar animal. Mr. Gardypie was critical of the RCMP for refusing to investigate in the face of several cattle mutilations in the area and the unexplained absence of a Rottweiler dog.

Rene Dahinden of Richmond, B.C., a Bigfoot researcher since 1956, reports that most Bigfoot sightings in Canada are in B.C. or along the eastern slope of the Rockies in Alberta. There have, however, been reports in northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba "going back quite a while." He remembers reports of a Bigfoot sighting near Norway House north of Lake Winnipeg. And when he did talk-radio programs in Saskatchewan in the early 1970s, "people were calling in saying there had been previous sightings of a Bigfoot-type creature in the Qu'appelle Valley."

Mr. Dahinden understands why "real" scientists are reluctant to accept Bigfoot's existence. Even he has not made up his mind. "The implications involved in admitting the existence of Sasquatch are mind-boggling," he says. "It's hard to accept that an upright, man-like animal is wandering around in our backyards."