Tales of Bigfoot, an enormous, hair-covered creature of the forest, have long gone hand-in-hand with the Sts’ailes traditional territory on which Harrison Hot Springs sits. His wood-carved figure guards the entrance to the Village and his big-footed saunter graces the logo for the Sts’ailes Band.
But how much do we really know about Sasquatch outside of its mysterious and hotly-debated existence?
Located in a rear room of the Visitor Information Centre is a hub of Sasquatch information. Everything from origin stories to the numerous alleged “sightings” of Sasquatch are detailed in the many articles, documents, foot prints and masks collected by Tourism Harrison, which spent the summer collecting them from the Sts’ailes Band and local Sasquatch investigators.
Tourism Harrison executive director Robert Reyerse says the Sasquatch Museum has been in the works for a few years and while a separate Sasquatch Museum building wasn’t feasible, the Visitor Centre’s existing space did the trick.
“Even though it’s a little bit on the small side, it still gives us enough room to really provide a pretty good overview of what the sasquatch is and what it means to the Harrison area,” he says. “We really got serious about it this year and spent the last four months or so pulling it all together.”
Reyerse says the Sasquatch’s history with both First Nations and settlers is part of what makes it so unique.
As the anglicised pronunciation of the Sts’ailes word, Sa:sq’ets, the Sasquatch is the “primary caretaker who watches over the land” and is integral to the Sts’ailes people. The supernatural mystery of “Bigfoot” has led thousands to search for signs of the ape-like beast, including late Canadian journalist John Green, who conducted interviews and extensive research into the Sasquatch phenomenom and dedicated much of his professional life to finding him.
“It’s amazing to me how many people are out there that are just really, really interested in this,” he says. “We’ve got lots of footprints, interactive screens, all sorts of information including a Sasquatch scream.”
The Sasquatch Museum will have an official opening in spring, 2018 but Reyerse encourages both visitors and locals to have a look over the winter. The Visitor Information Centre’s winter hours are Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.