One prominent provincial biologist in BC was quoted as saying “If we (the government) would invest the same research dollars that we spend on studying Grizzly bear habitat or dolphins, into the exploration of the Sasquatch there’s no doubt in my mind we would find proof of the hominid”.
To cryptozoologists the world over, Dahinden is recognized as a founder of that science, his presence on documentaries, reference in scientific texts and guest appearances have influenced billions, not to mention his stroll into the fabric of popular culture.
Famed director Steven Speilberg and writer and Bill Martin were inspired by Dahinden’s colourful character seeking out adventure in search for the unbelievable Bigfoot.
Speilberg and Martin would set out to define the hairy beast through by studying the antics of a number of Cryptozoologists like Dahinden. In 1987 they came up with Hollywood Bigfoot family movie comedy Harry and the Henderson’s, the Sasquatch hunter, a character played by David Suchet (better known to television viewers through his BBC/PBS Mystery series role as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot), was modeled on Rene Dahinden.
Harry and the Henderson’s became known a great family comedy; goofy for sure that would help launch the career for a number of television stars including David Suchet.
Critics would say that the goofiness of the movie was doing damage to Spielberg’s credibility as a serious producer; as a result, hardcore moviegoers have turned Harry and the Henderson’s into a cult classic blockbuster, which over time has turned into one of the all time great family motion pictures.
Dahinden’s persona became unstoppable as the popularity of Bigfoot grew into western culture. For a year, Dahinden acted as spokesman for Kokanee Beer, and appeared in commercials in Canada.
Kokanee advertisements often center around the beer's official mascot, the Sasquatch. The ad campaign follows the storyline of the "Kokanee Ranger" and his unsuccessful attempts to hunt and catch the Sasquatch who is stealing the Kokanee beer. The Columbia Brewing Company is quite proud of the fact that these commercials are parodied after René Dahinden who appeared in the first Kokanee commercial of its kind.
So it all began, when Rene 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, he came to the Pacific Northwest in search of the Sasquatch. As one of the organizers of the Harrison Hot Springs B.C.
Centennial celebrations, he soon found himself at the forefront of a hunt for Bigfoot and the beginning of a worldwide fascination with this elusive hairy giant. Befriending another Bigfoot enthusiast, local newspaper man John Green, the two were among the first to investigate the appearance of giant footprints in Bluff Creek, California in 1958.
Not one to tolerate fools or charlatans, Dahinden continued his investigations through the sixties culminating in the release of the 1967 Roger Patterson film of the female Bigfoot walking into the woods, the classic film which just about everyone capable of watching a TV has seen one time or another, and the one most of us have described as someone in a gorilla suite walking through a clear-cut.
Dahinden would come to own 51% of the rights to that film, which along with footprint casts, remains as the best evidence supporting the existence of the creature. Some have called Rene an investigator of "people who study Bigfoot", rather than of Bigfoot himself. Yet, his collection of eyewitness reports from North America to Russia would make him one of the leading authorities on the Bigfoot mystery.
Dahinden was the first to show the Patterson-Gimlin Film which was taken on October 20, 1967 at Bluff Creek, California, he was media-savvy enough to know that the film would quickly lead to controversy, so he decided to show it first to the scientific community in the former Soviet Union, and he worked hard to see to it that the film got the scientific attention he felt it deserved.
In following years, with Dahinden's acquiring of the photographic images of the Patterson-Gimlin Film, some of his time was occupied in technical legal and copyright affairs because of its immense popularity.
So was the film real? Dahinden certainly thought so. Today if you Google search the film you get over 30,000 entries including arguments from the Hollywood costume community that it was a state-of-the-art costume designed by one of them.
But, the hard core scientific community, one of them spending $75,000 and using computer technology found that the Bigfoot is more than likely real, especially when you consider the muscle tone actually moving. If you want every angle of theory, Wikipedia has more on the film than they do of George W. Bush.
So when Rene Dahinden wrote his only book, Sasquatch (McClelland & Stewart, 1973; republished as Sasquatch/Bigfoot, Firefly, 1993), with Don Hunter, did they know they would spark such interest.
Probably, it’s the kind of personality Rene Dahinden was. Really one would have to have pretty think skin to forge ahead with research amidst such criticism. A article featured in the Vancouver Province dated October 25, 1967 five days after the filming of the Patterson creature in Bluff Creek, California first mentions Dahinden’s quest:
“Rene Dahinden, another Sasquatch enthusiast of Vancouver and Lumby, has made a plaster cast of what he claims was a giant Sasquatch footprint in Northern California.”
A similar first time mention of Dahinden in the mass media describes him and another man from Lumby, about to begin the first publicized Sasquatch expedition north of Harrison Hotsprings. However, while Dahinden forged ahead into the mountains the other Lumby man, turned around and went home.
I wonder who that was? I wonder if they know they were actually part of a historical event, the first trek into the mountains in search of Bigfoot heard by millions on radio and television.
After a long bout with cancer Rene Dahinden passed away April 18th, 2001. In a very public eulogy famed writer and scientist Loren Coleman said of Dahinden:
“….he was open and friendly, entertaining and interviewed researchers from around the globe. He traveled to San Francisco to visit me in 1974, and I was touched by his humor, insights, and encyclopedic knowledge of the field. He will be missed by cryptozoologists worldwide”.