Red foxes have been spotted wandering the city streets of Ashkelon, Israel, a young puma has been seen roaming the roads of Santiago, Chile, and wild turkeys have been caught strutting through Montreal’s East End. With the world hunkering down at home to slow the spread of COVID-19, wildlife is emerging in unexpected places around the globe, and in the small B.C. town of Harrison Hot Springs, things are getting a little wilder as well.
Long before the 1987 family movie Harry and the Hendersons introduced viewers to the mythical Sasquatch — towering bi-pedal mammals covered in hair from head to toe — Bigfoot was a legend in the Pacific Northwest. Sightings date back as far as 1811, when British explorer David Thompson discovered a set of mysterious footprints in the woods that some true believers allege could only have belonged to Sasquatch.
Since then, Harrison Hot Springs has become the Sasquatch hub of B.C. For the local Sts’ailes people of the Harrison area, the Sasquatch (or Sasq’ets) is a supernatural being of great power, recognized as the “primary caretaker who watches over the land.” The town is also home to the legendary “Mr. Sasquatch,” John Green — the first researcher to investigate the 1967 site of the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film shot at Bluff Creek. Today, the area remains a hotspot for contemporary Bigfoot hunters like Bill Miller and Thomas Steenburg, who have spent years researching and tracking the mysterious creature while operating Sasquatch Country Adventures.
Combining First Nations oral traditions with modern folklore, the lakeside community of Harrison Hot Springs has embraced the Sasquatch as a symbolic figure, and potential encounters with the legendary being lie around every corner in the popular lakeside resort town. From trekking along the “Sasquatch Trail” to snapping selfies with towering statues of “Harrison Harry,” to participating in guided adventures to track the mysterious creature deep in the surrounding forest, there are many ways to connect with the history of this B.C. beast. In 2017, a museum even opened up in the area to showcase artifacts, eyewitness accounts, science and lore of the local Bigfoot.
Now that the town is quiet, “Harrison Harry” has emerged from his hiding place and has been appearing in unexpected places. The Harrison Beach Hotel has been documenting Harry sightings on their Instagram account, with posts showing him dancing around the empty village streets, wandering hotel halls, and enjoying the beautiful views of Harrison Lake while pointing out rare sightings of people spotted in his natural habitat. A highlight: the “real” Harry dancing away from one of the town’s iconic Sasquatch statues to the tune of “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” by The Police.
B.C. hospitality company True Key Hotels & Resorts, which owns the Harrison Beach Hotel, thought the community could use some levity amidst the endless pandemic news cycle. So, they decided to showcase the return of the Sasquatch to the village that has always wholeheartedly embraced its existence. “With Harrison Beach Hotel closed for all non-essential travel, we wanted to bring joy and a little bit of humour to keep our past and future guests engaged while they are unable to visit us in person,” says hotel general manager Jenn Buerge.
While the debate over whether the creatures are myth or reality rages on, one thing is for certain: the emergence of Harry in Harrison Hot Springs is bringing smiles to the faces of those of us who are waiting patiently to visit once more.
Interested in learning more about how you can spot a Sasquatch in Harrison Hot Springs? Check out the destination’s dedicated page.
Related from Canadian Geographic: Searching for Sasquatch, finding ourselves