Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 30th, 2009
Winnipeg Free Press
August 24, 1940
Cavemen Roam the Rockies?
By Edgar D. Smith
Canada, despite the advent of the airplane and other modern transportation facilities, remains one of the least known and certainly one of the least explored parts of the world. And in this great dominion the biggest mysteries are still sealed up securely in that vast Canadian enigma – the Rocky Mountains.
Lake Okanagan in British Columbia is reported to be inhabited by a second Loch Ness monster – the Ogopogo. And now, again from British Columbia, comes the strangest and weirdest tale of all – that of the troglodites, the gigantic and prehistoric cave-men who dwell in the loneliest mountain ranges.
A number of years ago, near the town of Agassiz, a young man and his girl were strolling towards their favorite rendezvous. Suddenly the man stopped and listened. He said he heard footsteps as if someone was following them. He turned to look about him. A second later, both he and his companion were almost shocked out of their wits.
Only a few feet behind the two, stood – something. ‘It’ glared at them and snarled from a hideous, gargoyle face. The creature stood about seven feet high. Its arms, dangling from hunched, powerful shoulders, touched the ground. The monster, naked, was covered only with its own heavy rank-smelling hair. It began to shamble menacingly towards them. They ran before it and escaped. But when they told of their experience to the folks in Agassiz, they were not believed. And no wonder.
An Indian was paddling his canoe when a huge boulder hurtled alongside, drenching him. Terrified, thinking it might be an avalanche, he looked up. There, high on the cliff, glaring down at him like some obscene demon, stood a grisly apparition. The monster, with a roar that resounded over pine forest and distant crag, prepared to plunge into the water and grab him. The Indian, reversing his sodden canoe, paddled away in hysterical panic.
More recently, a housewife went out of her tiny cabin beside the railway to hang the washing on the line. Suddenly she heard a deep growl. A bear? But no bear, she knew, growled like that. She turned and almost swooned. A huge, enormous monster was glaring at her from the edge of the clearing. But it made no effort to molest her. Instead, it turned and vanished.
These are all actual witnesses. Many more similar testimonies could be compiled. For according to report, the cave-men have been noticed quite often during the last thirty years. And yet the idea of a Neolithic race of troglodites infesting that region is scoffed at by most people. One explanation given is that the so-called monsters are in reality only bears, bigger brutes than usual, that have come down from some of the remote ranges. And bears, the skeptics point out, often rear up on their hind feet with the front ones dangling. A bear, doing this, might quite easily be mistaken for a huge man under certain circumstances. Especially by impressionable or nervous people.
But, ridiculing this ‘bear theory’ comes the opinion of the archaeologists. They say there is no doubt that such a tribe of semi-human giants could exist. Traces of just such another race of huge monsters have been discovered in other parts of the world, notably in the highest peaks of the Himalayas and in northern Mexico where guides take the curious to caves and point out various and absolutely undeniable proofs. The archaeologist’s task is to prove that a similar race of giants dwell in the Rockies.
According to those who have seen the cave-men, the creatures are enormous, twice the size of the average man and varying in height from seven to nearly eight feet – each monster having the most terrifying, repulsive and savage expression. And so established has the fact of their existence become that they are now referred to as the Sasquatches (Hairy Ones).
The Indians have their own ideas about them. They believe that the Sasquatches are a Neolithic tribe of mountain troglodytes who inhabit only the loftiest and remotest peaks of the Canadian Rockies and who congregate in a vast reunion every fourth year. And they dig back into folk-lore and tell how Chief Calling Loon of the Lonely Pool warned his people, many, many months [moons?] ago, even before the white men came, of the trolls who infest the slimy depths of lonely lakes (might these legends account in part for the Ogopogo?) and of the bad Manitou who dwells on that solitary snow-cap. The presence of these troglodytes has long been a source of pow wow – fact or fable – around Indian teepees. One tribesman, it is said, suggested that a special totem pole should be raised to placate the anger of the creatures.
However, despite the testimony of archaeologists, of the Indians and of those witnesses who swear to having seen the monsters, the Vancouver museum discredits the whole idea and in so doing has aroused much criticism. The scientific staff has been urged to at least make some investigation of the rumors. For many people firmly believe that something should be done. As a popular English magazine once commented about the vast, unexplored regions of Canada, “… the possibility of a Sasquatch tribe living is very great.”
If the tourist should ever visit this part of Canada, he should be sure to look for smoke on the mountains – thin, wraithlike spirals emanating from the summits of the most distant and loneliest ranges. These fires, the guide will inform him, are those of the Sasquatches. Everyone in those parts has noticed them before – often. Another tip. The visitor should not go roaming in certain parts of the forest after night has fallen – not unless he is with someone else who knows the country. And each would be much safer if he carried a high caliber gun.
Men have disappeared in the Rocky Mountains. They have vanished and no trace has ever been found of them again. If marauding animals had attacked them, the question of their fate would be easily answered. Therefore, it is asked, were Sasquatches responsible?
Most of the Rocky Mountains is yet an impregnable barrier, a mighty unsolved secret. What lies in some of those deep gorges, in some of those lonely valleys – awesome abysses, chasms and mist-wrapped mountain peaks? Not to speak of the silent depths of verdant forests. Will their impenetrable mysteries ever be made known to man?
Finally, there is the last witness. The hermit who, cleaning his gun late one night in his mountain shack, heard a weird, wild cry that echoed over precipices and chasm and which brought him hurriedly to the door. But when he looked around, all was quiet and still. Only the last echoes of that fearful howl, ringing bleakly from scarred cliff to towering crag, disturbed the tranquility of midnight.
“It was not an animal,” said the hermit. “No animal could have made a noise like that.”
A Sasquatch then? Only the Rocky Mountains know the answer. And they are strict guardians of a secret.
Thanks to Jerome Clark for passing along this archival contribution.