Sasquatch Classics

Ruby Creek

by Ivan T. Sanderson

Mr. Ostman's story was related to Queen Elizabeth II when she visited British Columbia in 1959. The story is said to have been submitted to Her Majesty by an official, along with other Sasquatchery, in a remote vacation cabin at a lake near Kamloops on August 28. By coincidence, I was on that same day closeted in a small railroad shack with a charming Amerindian couple named Mr. and Mrs. George Chapman, at Jacko's old retreat of Yale, some miles lower down the Fraser River. I also was hearing a story, but firsthand, and in what turned out later to have been rather extraordinary circumstances.

We had crossed the log-filled Fraser in a small boat, rowing first away upstream, then very rapidly a long way downstream broadside, and then finally a long way back upstream again on the other side in the lee of a tall bank. Scrambling to the top of this we struck a railroad along which an Amerindian family were straggling in from the hills. By some strange quirk of fate, this turned out to be the Chapman family for whom we were looking. They hospitably invited us in to the freight office, behind which they had a small house.

That could have been a very tense or even profitless interview for several reasons. Here we were, two palefaces with locally odd accents — Robbie Christie, though born in New Jersey, has ranched in Colorado, wears a Texan-type hat, and has a vaguely British accent; while I talk a sort of bastardized Anglo-Saxon with an American intonation and a British accent, neither of which are popular in Canada — who had met up with a reticent Amerindian couple, apparently quite by chance on a railroad track, and who now had suddenly demanded to hear the facts of a series of incidents that had happened to these good people 18 years before. Somehow, however, and perhaps due mostly to a kind of mild shock, we all got off on the right foot and within a surprisingly short space of time Mrs. Chapman was recounting those terrible hours with complete clarity, only every now and then being mildly corrected by her husband, or having her account augmented by details which she had not witnessed.

We had heard their story from several sources and had read it in several printed versions, but I wanted to get it firsthand and I wanted to be able to shoot my particular glossary of awkward biological questions at principals, who were alleged eyewitnesses of a living Sasquatch in daylight. It is just as well that we crossed the Fraser River just when we did, and so met the Chapmans, because about a month afterward they were drowned crossing at the same spot late one night. The irony and tragedy of this event upset me greatly for, as I have said, I have a great liking and respect for the Amerindian peoples and I not only found this couple graciously natural and friendly but they also impressed me, as very few other people have ever done, with their sincerity and honesty. The Chapman family at the time of the incident consisted of George and Jeannie Chapman and three children. Mr. Chapman worked on the railroad. They lived near a small place called Ruby Creek, 30 miles up the Fraser River from Agassiz. It was about 3 in the afternoon of a cloudless summer day when Jeannie Chapman's eldest son, then aged 9, came running to the house saying that there was a cow coming down out of the woods at the foot of the nearby mountain. The other kids, a boy aged 7 and a little girl of 5, were still playing in a field behind the house bordering on the rail track.

Mrs. Chapman went out to look, since the boy seemed oddly disturbed, and then saw what she at first thought was a very big bear moving about among the bushes bordering the field beyond the railroad tracks. She called the two smaller children who came running immediately. Then the creature moved out onto the tracks and she saw to her horror that it was a gigantic man covered with hair, not fur. The hair seemed to be about 4 inches long all over, and of a pale yellow-brown color. To pin down this color Mrs. Chapman pointed out to me a sheet of lightly varnished plywood in the room where we were sitting. This was of a brownish-ocher color.

This creature advanced directly toward the house and Mrs. Chapman had, as she put it, "much too much time to look at it" because she stood her ground outside while the eldest boy — on her instructions — got a blanket from the house and rounded up the other children. The kids were in a near panic, she told us, and it took 2 or 3 minutes to get the blanket, during which time the creature had reached the near corner of the field only about 100 feet away from her. Mrs. Chapman then spread the blanket and, holding it aloft so that the children could not see the creature or it them, she backed off at the double to the old field and down on to the river beach, out of sight, and ran with the kids downstream to the village.

I asked her a leading question about the blanket. Had her purpose in using it been to prevent the children seeing the creature, in accord with an alleged Amerindian belief that to do so brings bad luck and often death? Her reply was both prompt and surprising. She said that, although she had heard white men tell of that belief, she had not heard it from her parents or any other of her people, whose advice regarding the so-called Sasquatch had been simply not to go farther than certain points up certain valleys, to run if she saw one, but not to struggle if one caught her, as it might squeeze her to death by mistake.

"No," she said, "I used the blanket because I thought it was after one of the kids and so might go into the house to look for them instead of following me." This seems to have been sound logic as the creature did go into the house and also rummaged through an outhouse pretty thoroughly, hauling from it a 55-gallon barrel of salt fish, breaking this open, and scattering its contents about outside. (The tragic irony of it is that all those original three children did die within 3 years, while, as I have said, a month after we interviewed them, the Chapmans and their new children drowned as well.)

Mrs. Chapman told me that the creature was about 7 feet tall. She could easily estimate the height by the various fence and line posts standing about the field. It had a rather small head and a very short, thick neck; in fact really no neck at all, a point emphasized by William Roe and by almost all others who claim to have seen one of these creatures. Its body was entirely human in shape except that it was immensely thick through its chest and its arms were exceptionally long. She did not see the feet which were in the grass. Its shoulders were very wide and it had no breasts, from which Mrs. Chapman assumed it was a male, though she also did not see any male genitalia due to the long hair covering its groin. She was most definite on one point: the naked parts of its face and its hands were much darker than its hair, and appeared to be almost black.

George Chapman returned home from his work on the railroad that day shortly before 6 in the evening and by a route that bypassed the village, so that he saw no one to tell him what had happened. When he reached his house he immediately saw the woodshed door battered in, and spotted enormous humanoid footprints all over the place. Greatly alarmed — for, like all of his people, he had heard since childhood about the "big wild men of the mountains," though he did not hear the word Sasquatch till after this incident — he called for his family and then dashed through the house. Then he spotted the foot-tracks of his wife and kids going off toward the river. He followed these until he picked them up on the sand beside the river and saw them going off downstream without any giant ones following.

The abandoned Chapman house at Ruby Creek

The abandoned Chapman house at Ruby Creek

Somewhat relieved, he was retracing his steps when he stumbled across the giant's foot-tracks on the river bank farther upstream. These came down out of the potato patch, which lay between the house and the river, milled about by the river, and then went back through the old field toward the foot of the mountains where they disappeared in the heavy growth.

Returning to the house, relieved to know that the tracks of all four of his family had gone off downstream to the village, George Chapman went to examine the woodshed. In our interview, after 18 years, he still expressed voluble astonishment that any living thing, even a 7-foot-6-inch man with a barrel-chest could lift a 55-gallon tub of fish out of the narrow door of the shack and break it open without using a tool. He confirmed the creature's height after finding a number of long brown hairs stuck in the slabwood lintel of the doorway, above the level of his head. George Chapman then went off to the village to look for his family, and found them in a state of calm collapse. He gathered them up and invited his father-in-law and two others to return with him, for protection of his family when he was away at work. The foot-tracks returned every night for a week and on two occasions the dogs that the Chapmans had taken with them set up the most awful racket at exactly 2 o'clock in the morning. The Sasquatch did not, however, molest them or, apparently, touch either the house or the woodshed. But the whole business was too unnerving and the family finally moved out. They never went back.

After a long chat about this and other matters, Mrs. Chapman suddenly told us something very significant just as we were leaving. She said: "It made an awful funny noise." I asked her if she could imitate this noise for me but it was her husband who did so, saying that he bad heard it at night twice during the week after the first incident. He then proceeded to utter exactly the same strange, gurgling whistle that the men in California, who had told us they had heard an Oh-Mah (or "Bigfoot") call, had given. This is a sound I cannot reproduce in print, but I can assure you that it is unlike anything I have ever heard given by man or beast anywhere in the world. To me, this information is of the greatest significance. That an Amerindian couple in British Columbia should give out with exactly the same strange sound in connection with a Sasquatch that two highly educated white men did, over 600 miles south in connection with California's Bigfoot, is incredible. If this is all a hoax or a publicity stunt, or mass hallucination, as some people have claimed, how does it happen that this noise — which defies description — always sounds the same no matter who has tried to reproduce it for me?

From: Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come To Life by Ivan T. Sanderson.