If you heard wood-knocking or saw a tall, hairy unidentifiable creature resembling Bigfoot in the Thorold area, the Sasquatch Society wants to talk to you.
Ryan Willis, who is a founding member of the Trent University Sasquatch Society, said even at the age of 22, he carries his passion for the elusive and mythical ape-like creature just as much as he did when he was a kid.
“When I was younger, I would watch the show Finding Bigfoot and got really into it that way. I started doing tons of research on it over the years,” Willis tells BarrieToday, a sister site of ThoroldToday. “I was fascinated with it and really wanted to act on it somehow.”
It was at Peterborough’s Trent University where Willis met a friend who was just as interested in the legendary wood-roaming creature. They got a group together and started going out at night and doing investigations in the area. Once it became popular, they took the next step to register the group as a school club.
The whole thing got postponed when the pandemic hit, but the group is now registered and has up to around 160 members. Not all those members come in with serious intentions, though, but they often stick around, he says.
“So many people think it's a joke until they see that we have excursions to search for evidence and bring in guest speakers, well-known ones at that,” Willis says. “Truthfully, even the biggest skeptics are fascinated with sasquatch, so it really does attract people from all walks of life.”
Matt Moneymaker and Cliff Barackman were the hosts of Finding Bigfoot and are involved with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO), which is the only scientific research organization exploring the Bigfoot/Sasquatch mystery.
While the so-called 'Sasquatch University' began in Peterborough, the group has been to the Barrie area for some searches.
“There are about three witnesses I have spoken to from Barrie, but then there are more just around the city, in Oro-Medonte, who have said they have seen something,” Willis says. “We have students in the group from Barrie, so we went up that way and did some nighttime research. We didn’t find anything, but it was good to follow up on the sightings.”
The group plans on coming back to the area soon because, just this past week, they were offered a TV pilot to follow up on their sightings and research.
“We really want to get the word out about what we do and try to give people the chance to talk about it. A lot of people don’t like to be open about their sasquatch sightings for fear of ridicule,” Willis says. “We want them to be open with us and hopefully it is through exposing stories we can find some kind of evidence.”
The most well-known video of an alleged bigfoot sighting is from Oct. 20, 1967, and was recorded by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin (known as the Patterson-Gimlin film) in an area called Bluff Creek in northern California. The 59.5-second-long video has become the most famous story of the bigfoot myth. It continues to be highly scrutinized, analyzed and debated to this day.
Willis admits his group has yet to find any evidence of a bigfoot, but that doesn’t stop them from looking or listening.
“Wood-knocking is a famous way of tracking sasquatch,” he says. “It is believed it is how sasquatch communicate with each other, by slamming big sticks together or against a tree."
Despite having not seen any sign of the creature he so longs to see, Willis believes evidence could be discovered in the not-too-distant future.
“I think the possibility is pretty good because of modern technology and the ability to record so much easier. These are obviously intelligent animals that live in very remote wilderness, which has made it difficult,” Willis says. “This is why I was surprised there were any sightings in Barrie and Oro-Medonte because it isn’t as wooden as farther north.”
Willis says he is well aware of the skepticism, but he points to another so-called myth that has recently been said to be a real thing.
“For years, people have reported UFOs only to be ridiculed. Now you have the Pentagon coming out and releasing footage of them, so I really believe it's a matter of time before we see sasquatch footage or skeleton,” Willis says.
For more information on the Sasquatch Society or to report your sightings, head to the website by clicking here.