Researcher Thomas Steenburg on the Canadianness of the Sasquatch

As we welcome our new mascot of Canadian identity, the SESQUATCH, SESQUI wonders about Canadians who take on the serious quest for mysterious phenomena.

A former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, Thomas Steenburg has researched the Sasquatch for four decades and authored several books on the legend.

Chilliwack River Valley

Steenburg’s photo from a 2015 trip to the site of his 1986 investigation.

From his field research into the Sasquatch, one piece of evidence stands out above all others. Following a reported sighting of an eight foot tall, gorilla-like creature near the bank of the Chilliwack River, Thomas Steenburg found 112 footprints and other impressions that he doesn’t believe were faked. Steenburg has determinedly continued the search since that August 1986 discovery.

For the Bancroft, Ontario native who now resides in British Columbia, the search for the Sasquatch combines two of his favourite things: the outdoors and a mystery. Steenburg believes the mystery fuels public interest in the Sasquatch. People are “interested in the mystique of the creature itself and the mystery surrounding Sasquatch,” explained Steenburg. In the search, people find meaning and excitement, and they might not be interested in the creature itself.

Sasquatch field research

Steenburg (right), with colleague John Kirk, conducting field research.

It doesn’t hurt public interest that, as Steenburg put it, “Sasquatch is Canada.” While there are reports of creatures like the Sasquatch worldwide, from the Yeti to the Yowie, Sasquatch is always identified with Canada. Although Steenburg notes, Canadian interest in the Sasquatch is “laid back”. If a Sasquatch story is on TV, Canadians might find it interesting but prefer to watch a hockey game.

As a researcher, Steenburg is prepared to accept that the Sasquatch may not exist, though he hopes he is lucky enough to see the Sasquatch one day. “To me, I think that if the Sasquatch exists, and is proven to exist, it will be the biological discovery of the 20th and 21st century. And if it doesn’t exist, well, it’s a great piece of Western Canadian oral history, folklore, and mythology, and that alone makes it worth cataloguing and studying,” said Steenburg. “It’s part of our Canadian heritage, right?”

At SESQUI, we celebrate the link between the Sasquatch and Canada. Canadian identity is notoriously hard to pin down – much like a Sasquatch. SESQUI invites all Canadians to engage in conversations about Canada and their Canadian identity through the online quiz MEET YOUR SESQUATCH and the film HORIZON – just two of many SESQUI experiences bringing Canadians together in 2017.

Photos used with permission from