The Hairy Giants of British Columbia
Told by J. W. Burns (Government Indian Agent-teacher, Chehalis Indian Reserve, British Columbia, Canada) and Set Down by Mr. C.V. Tench
An original version of this article appeared under a slightly different name in the April 1, 1929 issue of MacLean’s Magazine. It later appeared in Wide World, The Magazine for Men, Vol. 84 No. 502, in January 1940.
“Presently there came the sound of a heavy body forcing its way through the brush. Darkness had not yet set and peering through a crack, Peter Williams took a good look at the monster. It was undoubtedly a sasquatch—one of the well nigh fabulous ‘hairy giants,’ which according to Indian belief still inhabit the unexplored wilds of interior British Columbia.”
This challenging article will undoubtedly arouse the derision of skeptics both in Canada and elsewhere. After many years of patient investigation, Mr. Burns, a responsible Government official shares the firm belief of his Indian charges that deep in the unexplored mountain wilds of British Columbia, there still lurk a few scattered survivors of the mysterious “Sasquatch” – primitive creatures of huge stature, covered from head to foot with coarse hair who have figured in Redskin legends for centuries. Mr. Burns recounts a number of seemingly well-authenticated stories of encounters with these uncanny “wild men” who carefully avoid all contact with civilization. Scientific expeditions had sought them in vain and it is generally supposed that—if they ever existed—the giants have long since become extinct – but the Indians remain unconvinced.
Before setting forth Mr. Burns’s narrative, I should like to make it clear that he not only holds a highly responsible Government position as an Indian Agent, but is keenly interested in the subject of the “hairy giants,” which he has studied for a number of years. He is confident that his charges are perfectly sincere in their beliefs; they are not in contact with tourists and have no reason whatever to “cook up” fables for the benefit of the unsophisticated. Moreover, the Indians are reluctant to talk about the “Sasquatch” even to him a friend of long standing, and absolutely refuse to discuss the matter at all with white strangers. They are simple minded, unimaginative folk; the invention of so many different stories of encounters with the wild men would be quite beyond their powers.
“I am convinced,” said Mr. Burns, “that survivors of the Sasquatch do still inhabit the inaccessible interior of British Columbia. Only by sheer luck however, is a white man likely to sight one of them because like wild animals, they instinctively avoid all contact with civilization and in that rocky country it is impossible to track them down. I still live in hope however, of some day surprising a sasquatch and when that happens I trust to have a camera handy. And now for my story!”
Utterly terrified, the Indian raced madly toward the Chehalis River where his dugout canoe was moored. In pursuit lunged a giant of a man at least eight feet in height and broad in proportion. He was stark naked and covered from head to toe by a thick growth of black woolly hair.
In his fright, the Chehalis Indian Peter Williams completely forgot the rifle he clutched; he did not attempt to stop and fight it out. When he suddenly caught sight of the monster standing on the summit of a huge boulder, all reason fled, to be instantly supplanted by sheer panic as the giant growled and sprang toward him.
Heedless of the tangled undergrowth, the Indian plunged wildly on – occasionally jerking his head around to gaze affrightedly at the horror behind. Reaching the riverside he gave a frantic heave and the dugout canoe shot out into the turbulent stream. The water, however did not daunt the giant, he plunged forward in hot pursuit.
The instant the bow of the dugout scraped the opposite bank, Peter Williams leaped ashore. The giant was now almost in midstream swimming strongly. Once more the Red man took to his heels. Well-nigh dazed from exhaustion he finally reached the frame shack that was his home. Frenziedly he herded his wife and children inside, bolted the door and barricaded it with ever article he could lay hands on. Then with his rifle at the ready, he tremblingly awaited the giant’s arrival.
The January 1940 article by J. W. Burns, “The Hairy Giants of British Columbia”—which was published in The Wide World Magazine Vol. 84, No. 502–was actually a revised version of an earlier article Burns had published in the April 1, 1929 issue of Maclean’s Magazine. The 1929 article is included below in its entirety. Click thumbnails to enlarge…