The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in the UK in 1992 - nearly 20 years ago. Over the past two decades it has expanded to become a truly global organisation. We opened our American office in 2001, our Australian office in 2009, and now - in our 19th year - we are proud to welcome CFZ Canada to the CFZ global family.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

An Appreciation of Rene Dahinden

By Dale Drinnon

First of all came Ivan Sanderson's book on Abominable Snowmen: I discovered that in my local library in the late 1960s, before the book was a decade old, and at the same time as I discovered Tim Dinsdale's Loch Ness Monster. But actually the next book I saw on Bigfoot was Rene Dahinden's Sasquatch. John Napier's book on Bigfoot had come out as magazine excerpts at the time and although I already knew of his work as an Anthropologist, it was only  after I had a copy of Dahinden's book that I got a copy of Napier's book. So for many years I was impressed by Dahinden more than by John Green or by any of the other Sasquatch-hunters, and probably his opinion that some of the Sasquatch tracks were left by Neanderthals influenced my opinion that there actually was a second category of Bigfoots in North America, a sort of American Almas.

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First of all came Ivan Sanderson's book on Abominable Snowmen: I discovered that in my local library in the late 1960s, before the book was a decade old, and at the same time as I discovered Tim Dinsdale's Loch Ness Monster. But actually the next book I saw on Bigfoot was Rene Dahinden's Sasquatch. John Napier's book on Bigfoot had come out as magazine excerpts at the time and although I already knew of his work as an Anthropologist, it was only  after I had a copy of Dahinden's book that I got a copy of Napier's book. So for many years I was impressed by Dahinden more than by John Green or by any of the other Sasquatch-hunters, and probably his opinion that some of the Sasquatch tracks were left by Neanderthals influenced my opinion that there actually was a second category of Bigfoots in North America, a sort of American Almas.

Tracking the sasquatch
Broadcast Date: Dec. 21, 1976
Rene Dahinden was probably Canada's only full-time sasquatch hunter. Since 1957 the Swiss immigrant's sole pursuit was to seek out the legendary hairy giant of the B.C. forest. He took hundreds of footprint casts and owned a share of the world's only Sasquatch film, but never managed to catch a glimpse of the beast. Even so, Dahinden was convinced the sasquatch is real. "I will keep on searching 'til I find the damn thing," he told CBC Television's The Fifth Estate in 1976.

Dahinden's obsession broke up his family and forced an austere lifestyle on him. Every penny he earned went straight to his search. He carefully followed up every sighting and found witness reports dating back to 1811. Despite Dahinden's efforts to prove the sasquatch exists, scientists are skeptical. "We have no skulls, no bones, nothing," says one. "Just these nebulous footprints which can be manufactured, or films which can be manufactured."

A review of his book Sasquatch:
Who, or what, left footprints that could only have been made by creatures weighing up to a thousand pounds and standing as tall as ten feet? Do they really exist? Or are the many sightings spanning thousands of miles and hundreds of years merely to be explained away by the authorities as bad dreams and, worse, hoaxes? In this fascinating and probing book, Don Hunter examines these and other bewildering questions. In association with Rene Dahinden, a now legendary Canadian Sasquatch hunter who has spent decades tracking down these elusive humanoids, author Hunter chronicles the exhaustive research carried out by layman and scholar alike in the quest for the truth about the North American Abominable snowman. For centuries, the Native People of British Columbia and the Northwest United States have incorporated the Sasquatch into their legends, and many today are still firmly convinced of its existence. But only when scores of people begin attesting to face-to-face meetings with the Sasquatch (some of the eye-witnesses offer photographs and film to prove it), and only when fully documented footprints measuring up to eighteen inches in length, separated by six-foot strides, began appearing in locales as diverse as Nahanni and California, did non-believers and scoffers start to pay more attention to this anthropological phenomenon.
Dahinden's meticulous research in the hands of one of Western Canada's most respected and accomplished authors and journalists, Don Hunter, becomes a compelling, entertaining story of one of the world's remaining great mysteries.
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Rene Dahinden knows more about this mystery than anyone.
Reviewer: A reader posting to Amazon.com:
I personally knew Rene Dahinden, have been to his home,and spent time in the woods with him searching for sasquatch. He is a serious,quiet man. He has spent most of his life investigating this mysterious creature. The amount of data he has compiled is amazing.Rene is not one given to exaggeration,he always tells it like it is. When it comes to big foot, he doesn't need to embellish.Rene is the reason the only legitimate film ever taken of bigfoot exists.It was Rene's information that led Roger Patterson to Bluff Creek,California in the 1960s. Many people have seen the short footage taken by Patterson, few know Rene Dahinden's involvement. This book is factual.If you want to explore the mystery behind 100s of years of lore,read Rene's book.You will be educated,entertained and amazed.

And Dahinden's biography and obituary
Rene Dahinden came to Canada from Switzerland in the 1950’s and went to work in a dairy farm in Alberta. Inspired by the 1953 Daily Mail News Expedition to find the Yeti ( Abominable Snowman) in Nepal, Rene opined that it would, indeed, be something to be part of such an expedition.It was at this point that a co-worker confided ..that he didn't have to go half way around the world to find those creatures. There were lots of them just over the mountains in BC. The rest..as they say..is history.!

Rene Dahinden came to BC in search of the Sasquatch. He was probably Canada's only full-time Sasquatch hunter, back in those days.From the late 50's onward it became his sole goal to seek out the Sasquatch and bring one into the scientific light.
Up and down the PNW he investigated sightings and made casts. Into the 60's and 70's and 80's it was, René Dahinden's accented voice which was the loudest at meeting halls, auditoriums and symposiums. Where ever researchers were seen to gather, Dahinden could be counted upon to turn up and be brash and opinionated. He could not suffer those, that he considered to be, foolish people. 


From many accounts, the passing years without results weighed heavily upon Rene Dahinden's shoulders. And the elusive ape creature tasked him at every turn. Friendships were fleeting in the wake of his, now souring, disposition.


For all of his time and effort, he owned a share of the world's only Sasquatch film, but never managed to catch a glimpse of the critter. Even so, he never for a moment allowed his faith in the creature to falter. "I will keep on searching 'til I find the damn thing," he told CBC Television in 1976. 

Dahinden had taken the mystery of the Sasquatch to a world class level. Touring and knocking on the doors of all who might listen. But through his best efforts, the scientific community remained unmoved.
His foray into the world of Sasquatch had left him a sad and bitter person. Often this is the outcome with obsessions. With a long broken family and now earning barley enough to keep his hopes for his quest alive... every penny he earned went straight to his search. He carefully followed up every sighting and found witness reports dating back two hundred years.. 


He died in 2001, after almost half a century of following ridge lines, mountain slopes, and narrow valleys, with nothing to show for his time or effort. Mysteries, whether they are lost mines, treasures, or hidden creatures can take their toll on the unlucky who overstay their alloted time for pursuit of such.
I never met Rene Dahinden, and although I know a number of people who have, it saddens me that I never got the chance to shake his hand. His passing left a huge void in this field of endeavor!

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3 comments:

  1. Nice job Dale.

    I miss the guy. He was a solid individual and definitely had a sense of humor about him that few understood.

    http://www.lorencoleman.com/rene_dahinden_obituary.html

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  2. I too never met Rene, but I would have loved to. His drive and determination was an absolute inspiration, and the book Sasquatch is really excellent. He was certainly colorful and not afraid to court controversy, that is for certain. But he is certainly one of the pioneers, and well-deserving of the Four Horsemen of Sasquatchery designation he has. Great article.

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  3. I wish that I could have met Rene back in 1981-82 in southeast Alaska. I was just a young teen at that time and had two encounters there that I have not yet spoken about publicly. I was allowed to roam freely and so I did. If my parents only knew how far I would explore they have put an aprupt halt to that, especialy that I went unarmed. It is easy to see how a sighting can consume much of your thoughts. I have one hell of a story to share so if anyone knows how get my story televised I would be more than glad to do an interview first. I would like to give my best shot at proving that Rene was right! because I know he was. P.S. not seeking fame or fortune!

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