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Media Article # 394

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

A really big foot story

By Mike Howell
Vancouver Courier

Dressed in a three-quarter length black leather jacket, black pants, black shirt and black shoes, Chris Murphy seems out of place as he stands among the T-shirt and shorts crowd outside the Vancouver Museum on a hot June day.

Carrying a thick black binder, which contains the draft of his book on the history of the Sasquatch, the 63-year-old retired B.C. Tel employee is all business as he escorts the Courier into the museum.

Inside, harried staff are putting the finishing touches on Sasquatch, a one-of-a-kind exhibit that traces the history of the creature, which some believe lurks in the B.C. wilderness.

The exhibit, which runs until next March, opened last week in conjunction with the release of Murphy's book, Meet the Sasquatch. Murphy, the exhibit's co-curator, wrote it with the help of fellow Sasquatch investigators John Green and Thomas Steenburg.

"We have enough evidence here to warrant a government investigation into this creature -- we've got Sasquatch hair, footprints, photos, sightings and even Sasquatch feces," Murphy said.

Sasquatch feces?

"Yes, but it's not in the exhibit or in my book because people just make jokes about it. I don't have any, but I know people who keep it in their freezers."

What Murphy does have is an amazing collection of Sasquatch artifacts, memorabilia, footprint casts and a copy of the famous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film, which shows a tall, hairy, ape-like creature walking through the woods in Bluff Creek, Calif.

Also on view is a plaid jacket and pipe belonging to the late Rene Dahinden, who became famous when Kokanee beer featured the Sasquatch hunter in several television ads in the late 1990s.

For several years, Dahinden lived in a trailer at the Vancouver Gun Club in Richmond. There, he collected the lead shot from spent shells and sold it to help fund his trips to Northern California, where he would track the creature.

Murphy befriended Dahinden in 1993 when his son Dan contacted the legendary Sasquatch hunter about a paper he was writing on the elusive beast for a Capilano College course.

After that, the senior Murphy became obsessed with the Sasquatch, attending symposiums and accompanying Dahinden on excursions into the bush.

"That's it -- that's the story of how I got started in the Sasquatch business."

Much of the collection belongs to Murphy, but he has borrowed maps, books, native masks and sculptures from university collections and Sasquatch enthusiasts.

Part of the exhibit honours his friend Green, a former Globe and Mail reporter, who's been hunting Sasquatch for decades from his home near Harrison Hot Springs.

Filing cabinets filled with books and wall maps surround a desk that is supposed to give the visitor a taste of Green's home office, in which he studies the creature.

Museum walls are also adorned with enlarged newspaper stories about Sasquatch, including the tale of bulldozer operator Jerry Crew, who is pictured in 1958 with casts of Sasquatch footprints he made after locating tracks in Bluff Creek, Calif. -- the same area where Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin shot their famous 1967 film.

Murphy gets excited when museum staff roll the film, shifting from foot to foot and pointing at the large screen. "See, see, this is Patterson running and he trips and falls -- bango. He gets back up, and there it is -- right there, can you see it?"

The credibility of the footage of the creature, however, has even been questioned by Murphy, who talked about it only reluctantly in a later telephone interview.

As the story goes, Murphy said when he enlarged frames of the film, he noticed something near the creature's waist that seemed foreign, possibly a belt buckle.

"Everybody says I say it was man-made. All I said to the newspapers is that it was an unusual object, and not identifiable. But when reporters ask, 'Is it possible that it's a hoax?' Don't forget that anything is possible. If you ask the question, 'Is it probable?' That's better, now I can say 'No, it's not probable.' But if you ask me if it's possible, well, it's possible that the Sasquatch is made out of cheese."

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