Paul Barker is an artist primarily known for his paintings, but there is one sculpture he did that is possibly more famous than any of his paintings. When Paul created this piece, he worked with some of the most famous bigfooters in history. He finally got a chance to perfect his sculpt after receiving a phone call from Rene Dahinden.
When I got back from the war in Vietnam in 1971, the Marine Corps found itself with a surplus of junior grade officers like myself and offered us an early out from our three-year commitment if we could show proof of having been accepted into some academic program. I had friends in Vancouver, British Columbia, at Simon Fraser University who loved the school and the local scenery.
I already had a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Dallas. I had taken courses in film at the University of Southern California before the War, and my experience had left me disillusioned with the ugly realities of making movies in the Hollywood of that day.
But I had found in the Marine Corps that being a teacher, which had become my primary function in peace time, was very gratifying, so I applied to a program leading to an elementary level teaching certificate. Long story short, I became a Canadian for 5 years, first as a student, then as a school teacher.
I had been interested in the search for evidence of the Sasquatch (Canadian for “Bigfoot”) for years so I connected up with the local network of investigators. And they were interested in me, because I had majored in sculpture in college. It seemed they were comparing notes with Russian scientists who were investigating the same phenomenon in the Caucasus Mountains where the creatures were called “Almasti.” The Russians had a statue of their critter and the Canadians were jealous. So I got materials together — black Plasticine clay, copper armature, small brown glass eyes and photos of the reconstructed skull of gigantopithicus erectus, a fossil hominid from China which offered the best anthropological precedent for a giant bipedal ape — and I went to work.
The investigators — newspapermen, hunters, writers and Mounties (alas, no longer wearing red suits like Dudley Do-Right, I was so disappointed) — were enthusiastic in their support, supplying me with photos, casts of footprints, eyewitness descriptions and the famous Bluff Creek film clip. After a few months I had an 18″ statue that most of them were pleased with, but I was not happy with the nose, because I had no data to work with.
On Monday evening, May 16, 1977, I was working on the statue when I got a call from one of the hunters, Rene Dahinden, saying that a Pacific Stage Lines bus driver had just almost hit a Sasquatch at about 8:40 AM, crossing Highway 7, east of Lake Erroch, between Harrison and Vancouver.
At last, maybe a close-up description! I thought to myself.
The driver, who stood about 6′ 4″ in his grey uniform and cowboy boots, was still in a highly agitated state, red-faced and sweating, when my girlfriend and I arrived at his apartment downtown with the statue. When I pulled off the cover, his face went pale.
“That’s it, you got it!” he said, “but the nose was not like that.”
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