There are several accepted definitions of the word classic. One widely used definition is “something of enduring interest, quality or style.” Another meaning is “something honored as definitive in its field.” Still another definition is “something noteworthy of its kind and worth remembering.” When it comes to encounters with large, hirsute bipedal animals, the sighting of one William Roe certainly fits the bill as a classic. In fact, to many who follow cryptozoological matters closely, Mr. Roe’s sighting might very well be the most important bigfoot sighting of all time.
In October of 1955, William Roe, a highway worker and experienced outdoorsman was spending time near Tete Jaune Cache, British Columbia. Roe was part of a crew working on a road in the area. Roe found himself with a day off and decided to take a hike and scout out a good area for a future hunt. Roe carried his rifle but was not really looking to take a shot that day. He decided to visit a rugged and isolated area on Mica Mountain where there was an old abandoned mine. Roe had taken a grizzly bear in this area the year before. What happened next is best described by William Roe himself.
What follows is a sworn affidavit filed on August 26, 1957 by Mr. Roe regarding his experience. The affidavit was drawn up by the legal department of the City of Edmonton, Alberta, made up of Allen F. MacDonald, B.A., L.L.B., City Solicitor, H. F. Wilson, B.A., Assistant City Solicitor and R. N. Saunders, Claims Agent. The affidavit was in response to a request from John Green who had asked Mr. Roe if he would agree to make an account of his sighting while under oath.
I, W. Roe of the City of Edmonton, in the province of Alberta make oath and say,
(1) That the exhibit A attached to this, my affidavit, is absolutely true and correct in all details.
Sworn before me in the City of Edmonton, Province of Alberta, this 26th day of August, A.D. 1957.
(Signed) William Roe
(Signed) by W.H. Clark
Assistant Claims Agent
Number D.D. 2822
Ever since I was a small boy back in the forest of Michigan, I have studied the lives and habits of wild animals. Later, when I supported my family in Northern Alberta by hunting and trapping, I spent many hours just observing the wild things. They fascinated me. But the most incredible experience I ever had with a wild creature occurred near a little town called Tete Jaune Cache, British Columbia, about eighty miles west of Jasper, Alberta.
I had been working on the highway near Tete Jaune Cache for about two years. In October, 1955, I decided to climb five miles up Mica Mountain to an old deserted mine, just for something to do. I came in sight of the mine about three o’clock in the afternoon after an easy climb. I had just come out of a patch of low brush into a clearing when I saw what I thought was a grizzly bear, in the bush on the other side. I had shot a grizzly near that spot the year before. This one was only about 75 yards away, but I didn’t want to shoot it, for I had no way of getting it out. So I sat down on a small rock and watched, my rifle in my hands.
I could see part of the animal’s head and the top of one shoulder. A moment later it raised up and stepped out into the opening. Then I saw it was not a bear.
This, to the best of my recollection, is what the creature looked like and how it acted as it came across the clearing directly toward me. My first impression was of a huge man, about six feet tall, almost three feet wide, and probably weighing somewhere near three hundred pounds. It was covered from head to foot with dark brown silver-tipped hair. But as it came closer I saw by its breasts that it was female.
And yet, its torso was not curved like a female’s. Its broad frame was straight from shoulder to hip. Its arms were much thicker than a man’s arms, and longer, reaching almost to its knees. Its feet were broader proportionately than a man’s, about five inches wide at the front and tapering to much thinner heels. When it walked it placed the heel of its foot down first, and I could see the grey-brown skin or hide on the soles of its feet.
It came to the edge of the bush I was hiding in, within twenty feet of me, and squatted down on its haunches. Reaching out its hands it pulled the branches of bushes toward it and stripped the leaves with its teeth. Its lips curled flexibly around the leaves as it ate. I was close enough to see that its teeth were white and even.
The head was higher at the back than at the front. The nose was broad and flat. The lips and chin protruded farther than its nose. But the hair that covered it, leaving bare only the parts of its face around the mouth, nose and ears, made it resemble an animal as much as a human. None of this hair, even on the back of its head, was longer than an inch, and that on its face was much shorter. Its ears were shaped like a human’s ears. But its eyes were small and black like a bear’s. And its neck also was unhuman. Thicker and shorter than any man’s I had ever seen.
As I watched this creature, I wondered if some movie company was making a film at this place and that what I saw was an actor, made up to look partly human and partly animal. But as I observed it more, I decided it would be impossible to fake such a specimen. Anyway, I learned later there was no such company near that area. Nor, in fact, did anyone live up Mica Mountain, according to the people who lived in Tete Jaune Cache.
Finally the wild thing must have got my scent, for it looked directly at me through an opening in the brush. A look of amazement crossed its face. It looked so comical at the moment I had to grin. Still in a crouched position, it backed up three or four short steps, then straightened up to its full height and started to walk rapidly back the way it had come. For a moment it watched me over its shoulder as it went, not exactly afraid, but as though it wanted no contact with anything strange.
The thought came to me that if I shot it, I would possibly have a specimen of great interest to scientists the world over. I had heard stories of the Sasquatch, the giant hairy Indians that live in the legends of British Columbia Indians, and also many claim, are still in fact alive today. Maybe this was a Sasquatch, I told myself.
I levelled (sic) my rifle. The creature was still walking rapidly away, again turning its head to look in my direction. I lowered the rifle. Although I have called the creature “it”, I felt now that it was a human being and I knew I would never forgive myself if I killed it.
Just as it came to the other patch of brush it threw its head back and made a peculiar noise that seemed to be half laugh and half language, and which I can only describe as a kind of a whinny. Then it walked from the small brush into a stand of lodgepole pine.
I stepped out into the opening and looked across a small ridge just beyond the pine to see if I could see it again. It came out on the ridge a couple of hundred yards away from me, tipped its head back again, and again emitted the only sound I had heard it make, but what this half- laugh, half-language was meant to convey, I do not know. It disappeared then, and I never saw it again.
I wanted to find out if it lived on vegetation entirely or ate meat as well, so I went down and looked for signs. I found it in five different places, and although I examined it thoroughly, could find no hair or shells of bugs or insects. So I believe it was strictly a vegetarian. (TCH note: It was assumed by both John Green and Ivan T. Sanderson that Roe was referring to fecal matter located in the sighting location. In my mind, this is obviously the correct interpretation.)
I found one place where it had slept for a couple of nights under a tree. Now, the nights were cool up the mountain, at this time of year especially, and yet it had not used a fire. I found no sign that it possessed even the simplest of tools. Nor a single companion while in this place.
Whether this was a Sasquatch I do not know. It will always remain a mystery to me, unless another one is found.
I hereby declare the above statement to be in every part true, to the best of my powers of observation and recollection.
Signed William Roe
The sighting of William Roe has, of course, been dissected seven ways to Sunday. Critics most often point to the appearance of the creature’s breasts as reported by Roe and drawn by his daughter at his direction. They point to the fact that no other apes have hair on their breasts. Roe’s description is that the breasts did have hair with the exception of the area immediately surrounding the nipples. It should be pointed out that other primates, including human females, do have hair on their breasts. The hair is typically very thin, downy, short and lighter in color than the hair on the rest of their body but it is there. Some feel that perhaps the hair of the sasquatch remains constant in thickness and color over a higher percentage of its body than does the hair on humans or even other great apes. Why this would be is, of course, subject to speculation. To others, the hair on the breasts is a huge red flag that could indicate a hoax.
The most common criticisms involving the details described by William Roe are actually not criticisms of his sighting at all; rather, they are criticisms leveled directly at Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin and the sasquatch they claim to have captured on film at Bluff Creek in October of 1967. Many who feel that the creature filmed by Patterson that day is nothing more than a man in a suit point to the similarities between Patty, as the Patterson subject came to be known, and the creature described by William Roe. The crowned head, the long arms that nearly reach the knees, the thick torso that does not taper from chest to waist and, yes, the hair covered breasts of the Patterson subject all are reminiscent of the creature described by Roe. Critics feel that it is likely Roger Patterson and any accomplices he might have had modeled their ape suit after the Roe creature. While there is no proof this is what happened (no ape suit has ever been found), it has failed to deter hardcore critics from making this connection.
Of course, there is another possible reason that the Patterson-Gimlin subject and the Roe creature look so similar. Simply, maybe this is what wood apes look like. Entertain the idea for a moment that William Roe, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin encountered female individuals of the same species. Would it not be expected that they would share a great deal of physical characteristics? A female lion looks very much any other female lion. Are there small individual variations? Yes, but each individual lioness is easily identified as just that. Do sow grizzly bears look like other sow grizzly bears? Yes, and they are easily identifiable as such. Female gorillas? Orangutans? Chimpanzees? It is the same no matter the species. Individuals of the same sex and belonging to the same species look very much alike. In my mind, the fact that the subject filmed by Roger Patterson looks so much like the creature described by William Roe could just as easily be turned around and used by supporters as strong evidence that the footage is genuine.
Another aspect of the Roe encounter that fascinates me is the reaction of the creature once it realized it was being watched. Roe stated, “Finally the wild thing must have got my scent, for it looked directly at me through an opening in the brush. A look of amazement crossed its face. It looked so comical at the moment I had to grin. Still in a crouched position, it backed up three or four short steps, then straightened up to its full height and started to walk rapidly back the way it had come. For a moment it watched me over its shoulder as it went, not exactly afraid, but as though it wanted no contact with anything strange.” I have often wondered how the creature interpreted Roe’s grin. Did Roe show his teeth? In the primate world this is often a signal indicating agitation or aggression. Is this why the creature backed cautiously away? Additionally, the way it retreated is of interest to me. After shuffling backwards three or four steps, the creature began to walk, not run, back toward the tree line. The creature even looked back at Roe over its shoulder as it strode away. William Roe described the retreating behavior as “not exactly afraid, but as though it wanted no contact with anything strange.” Sound familiar? Indeed, this statement could have come right out of the mouth of Roger Patterson or Bob Gimlin as it perfectly describes the retreat of their film subject. Critics of the Patterson-Gimlin footage have pointed to the measured and, seemingly, unafraid manner in which Patty walked away as unnatural behavior for a wild animal. To them, this is another red flag. Again, I feel the similarity of the Roe creature’s retreat to that of the Patterson-Gimlin subject could just as easily be used to bolster the claims of the two men that what they filmed that day was genuine.
The physical description given by William Roe of the creature he observed back in 1955 is one that has held up and been repeated time and time again by alleged sasquatch witnesses all over North America. The crowned head, thick non-tapering torso, incredibly broad shoulders, abnormally long arm proportions, wide feet and more continue to be described by witnesses today. Most of these people have never heard of William Roe. These similarities, reported over many decades, would seem to indicate that people are seeing real flesh and blood animals that belong to the same species.
To my knowledge the credibility of William Roe has never really been criticized. I have never read anything that would lead me to believe he might have been some sort of charlatan or hoaxer. Remember, this all took place almost three full years before the term bigfoot was used in a newspaper article describing prints found by Jerry Crew in Northern California and twelve years before the Patterson-Gimlin footage became an international lightning rod. Roe did some interviews regarding his sighting but later took the additional step of having a sworn affidavit drawn up detailing his experience for John Green. He simply did not have to do this. This, in my opinion, is not the sort of action a hoaxer would take.
It is my opinion that William Roe had the remarkable good fortune of observing a wood ape that October day back in 1955. It is also my opinion that people do not continue to tailor their descriptions of these animals today to fit some sort of template created by William Roe years ago; rather, the reason the description of the physical appearance of these animals given by so many matches that given by Roe years ago is simply due to the fact that this is what these animals look like. Obviously, I cannot prove it but I have always felt that the Roe account had the ring of truth to it.
Until discovery day truly arrives, that is about as much as we can hope for.