John Willison Green
by Loren Coleman
One of the greatest chroniclers of the Sasquatch phenomenon has passed on to another part of his journey.
John Willison Green, who was born on February 12, 1927, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, died May 28, 2016 in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, at the age 89. His family withheld the news from the general public until early June 2016.
The tireless Canadian journalist was one of the world’s foremost researchers of Sasquatch in the world.
John Green has enriched the study of unknown hair-covered primates in North America for decades. He once told a reporter he had a database of more than 3000 sighting and track reports, before the advent of the Internet. He holds the title as the first primary chronicler in Sasquatch studies. His work in the field had lead some to affectionately refer to John Green as “Mr. Sasquatch.”
John Green was raised in British Columbia. His father was Howard Green, a long-time Member of the Canadian Parliament and a Cabinet Minister. His mother, Marion Green (nee Mounce), was the daughter of a Vancouver Island lumber baron and the first woman to graduate from the University of British Columbia (UBC) school of Agricultural Sciences.
John Green’s writing career began in 1944. When Green was a student at the UBC, he wrote for the student newspaper, The Ubyssey and the Totem yearbooks. He also covered campus news for the Vancouver Province. After graduating at 19 (UBC, BA, 1946, major English), he immediately went to Columbia University, and soon obtained a Masters in Journalism.
Green worked part-time for The Globe and Mail in New York City, and then for two years as a full-time reporter at the paper’s Toronto headquarters. He returned to Vancouver to cover local news for The Province, worked for a time at the Victoria Times Colonist, and then decided to purchase the Agassiz-Harrison Advance in 1954. It was then that John Green moved to Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia.
As a journalist and publisher, Green had access to a variety of British Columbia news. He had written a fictional April Fool’s story about Sasquatch in 1953. But he first asked seriously about Sasquatch in 1956 when Swiss-born René Dahinden entered Green’s office to inquire about two-legged upright creatures, like the Abominable Snowmen, reported in the area. Green told Dahinden the accounts were nonsense.
But Green continued hearing about lore and sightings from people he respected. Thus Green started investigating Sasquatch reports in earnest in 1957, interviewing witnesses and conducting on-site inquiries. In the late 1950s, Green was the first to conduct an in-depth interview of Albert Ostman, regarding Ostman’s 1924 Sasquatch abduction incident. John Green also extended the modern history of Sasquatch back to a 1941 encounter labeled by Green as the “The Ruby Creek Incident,” because it happened a half-mile east of that little settlement in British Columbia. Although only the Chapman family was involved in this encounter, others in the Ruby Creek area also saw the footprints.
During 1958, hundreds of large footprints were found on a logging road near Bluff Creek, California, by construction workers and reported to authorities. One man, bulldozer operator Jerry Crew, took a plaster cast of one track to a local newspaper as “proof,” and the moniker “Bigfoot” was born. John Green and his wife June immediately drove south to investigate, but were told they were too late; the tracks had been back bladed. Green grew skeptical and told his wife they might have just driven three days for a prank. He asked the road construction crew if they could look around, anyway.
Green says that what happened next was June opened her car door and there was a footprint a few feet from their vehicle. What particularly impressed John Green was the similarity between the outline of these Bluff Creek tracks and the tracings he had of one of the Ruby Creek footprints. John Green was the last surviving investigator of that significant first American Bigfoot case. The death of John Green marks a milestone as now the entire first generation of that 1958 Bluff Creek incident have passed away.
During the years after 1958, Green became a well-known member of a loose group of Bigfoot-Sasquatch hunters and researchers working together and apart throughout the Pacific Northwest. He was hired by Texas millionaire Tom Slick to track Sasquatch in British Columbia, and suggested to Roger Patterson he might wish to look for Bigfoot in the Bluff Creek, California area. When Patterson and Bob Gimlin encountered and filmed a Bigfoot there on October 20, 1967, Green was one of the initial researchers to understand the footage’s importance and get a screening of it before scientists at UBC.
John Green’s first book On the Track of the Sasquatch, was soon published, and through various editions, has sold nearly 250,000 copies since its release in 1968.
Green published three books over five years while he owned a printing business. The books, On the Track of the Sasquatch, Year of the Sasquatch, and The Sasquatch File, sold mainly on magazine racks. The first two were combined and published in 1973 by a California pocket book publisher, selling 100,000 copies alone.
Green sold The Advance in 1972, “when income from my [Sasquatch] books exceeded the net income from the overall business,” he told reporter Michelle Vanderpol of The Observer, August 22, 2007. He worked off and on over the next 18 years, part-time, for the Hope Standard, the Sidney Review and the Advance.
Green’s Sasquatch investigations were merely one part of his life. He raised his family, ran a business and pursued his political aspirations. He ran for provincial office as a Conservative and lost four times. Finally, he was elected as village mayor of Harrison Hot Springs in 1963, and got funding to have hundreds of thousands of tons of sand from the lake bottom cover the large boulders found along the shore. He was responsible, therefore, for creating the popular beach that exists there today and transforming the area into one of southern British Columbia’s most popular tourist locales. He is the founder of the World Sand Sculpture Championships.
Green took on many challenges in his life. He was a competitive sailboat racer in his youth, and designed and constructed the first fiberglass hull sailboat to steer through British Columbian lakes. He also was a successful investor of the inheritance he received from his father, and a philanthropist. Then finally, years after being mayor, Green returned to politics. Forty years after first being elected, he won a commissioner’s seat in 2002.
Bigfoot and Sasquatch were always there too, of course. John Green noted to The Observer’s Michelle Vandepol: “In 1978, I co-published with Hancock House a 492-page hard-cover book, Sasquatch, the Apes Among Us, which included different coverage of much of the same information that was in the earlier books and a lot more, including information from eastern North America.”
Green did not stand still. In 2005, Green wrote four updating chapters combining his old books for Hancock House into a tome called The Best of Sasquatch Bigfoot. That book and the Hancock’s second paperback version of Sasquatch the Apes Among Us are still in print.
Green became so famed for his Sasquatch studies that late in his life he complained about trying to keep up with an ever-growing body of people who wanted to correspond with him. Green kept encouraging others to go beyond his own works. He directly interacted and influenced many of the early researchers in the field, including Jim McClarin, René Dahinden, Tom Slick, Ivan T. Sanderson, Roger Patterson, Loren Coleman, Mark A. Hall, Bob Titmus, Grover Krantz, Chris Murphy, John Kirk, and Jeff Meldrum, to name a few. John Green’s filming of Jim McClarin at the site of the Patterson-Gimlin footage is still discussed as one of the critical research analysis for the height of that Bigfoot.
John Green and Jim McClarin at Bluff Creek, examining the trackway and re-creating the Patterson-Gimlin footage with Jim as the Bigfoot.
In Sasquatch Odyssey: The Hunt for Bigfoot (director Peter von Puttkamer, 1999), John Green is profiled as one of the “Four Horsemen of Sasquatchery,” along with the late Grover Krantz, the late Rene Dahinden, and Peter Byrne. The Horsemen are riding off into the sunset.
John Green, a historical figure, major chronicler, and renowned authority in the field of Sasquatch investigations, has appeared as a keynote speaker at all three of the major scientific Sasquatch symposia held so far. He was the guest of honor at “A Tribute to John Green,” held in Harrison Hot Springs from April 8–10, 2011, and attended by over 300 specially invited patrons. Tributes were given by most of the well-known figures in the field, such as Jeff Meldrum, John Bindernagel, Chris Murphy, Igor Burtsev, Tom Steenburg, and Loren Coleman, recognizing John Green’s contributions and legacy to the study of these unknown hominoids, known as Sasquatch and Bigfoot.
It is worthy of noting that John’s impact has been far-reaching.
In the beginning, Bigfoot researchers and the occasional tourist use to go to Willow Creek and have their pictures taken with Jim McClarin’s Oh-Mah (Bigfoot) redwood sculpture (pictured above). For example, the image of me, Loren Coleman, is from 1975, and demonstrates this then-active tradition. In the mid-1980s, other spots tried to jump on the bandwagon with their own statues. But Willow Creek remained the dominant location.
I note that this tradition began changing, as the decades passed. In more recent years, people journeyed to another kind of Sasquatch Mecca ~ John Green ~ and requested their photo be taken with him. Needless to say, in tribute to John Green’s legacy and legendary status in Sasquatch studies, many have been overjoyed and happy to be have their image captured with this gentleman of Bigfootery.
The bearded Canadian chronicler John Green and the early Californian researcher George Haas
John’s life has influenced researchers and writers far beyond British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.
John Green did not make harsh judgement in his gathering of the data, and took responsibility for the fact that more regions of North America than the Pacific Northwest area were producing reports. He surveyed Eastern and Southern hairy hominid reports, as well. He published them, early on, and through doing so, they served as a model for others to not ignore these cases. He also asked his correspondents, as he did Mark Hall and Loren Coleman in the 1960s, to research Native tales of Bigfoot. We did and published one of the first articles on North American indigenous folklore of hairy hominids, thanks to Green.
Even the relatively recent book that I wrote and coauthored with Mark A. Hall, True Giants (NY: Anomalist Books, 2010), can trace its origins to John Green’s finding that creatures larger than Bigfoot were being reported. What Roger Patterson had called the “Giant Hairy Ape,” which was different than Bigfoot, Green had also noted. Green had written of reports from the 1950s and 1960s that told of extra large hairy men with giant, almost two-feet long, foot tracks. This is not to blame Green for any radical theories that Hall and Coleman decided to write about, but Green’s outside-the-box thinking certainly stimulated a good deal of lateral research.
John Green, a relatively conservative man, often called forth the pushing of the envelope for the researchers, chroniclers, and field researchers he influenced.
The field of Sasquatch studies would have an entirely different personality, if it were not for the gentle giant named John Green.
There is an empty place next to the campfire tonight. John Green has passed away.
John Green’s official obituary from the Vancouver Sun follows:
GREEN, John Willison
Journalist, researcher, and community leader, John Willison Green passed away May 28, 2016 in Chilliwack, at age 89. Predeceased by his beloved wife June, brother Lewis, and one grandson, he is survived by children Marian (John), Margaret (Ken), Jim, Kathryn (Ray), and Raymond (Louise), thirteen grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. Raised in Vancouver, John loved building and racing sailboats. A graduate of UBC, he received his M.A. in Journalism from Columbia University in New York at age 20. He met June while in the Navy, and they married in 1948, living in Toronto, Vancouver, and Victoria, before moving to the Agassiz-Harrison area, where they raised their children and published the local newspaper for many years. His editorial writing was recognized with national awards. John volunteered for many community activities, including the Chamber of Commerce, Senior Citizens Housing, Harrison Hot Springs Fire Department, Boy Scouts, Search and Rescue, the Lions Club and the Historical Society. He served several years on the Harrison municipal council, including two as mayor. He was responsible for the construction of the Harrison lakefront beach, where he spearheaded the World Championship Sand Sculpture Competition for many years. He was also active in politics at the provincial level. His lobbying efforts preserved the Kilby General Store at Harrison Mills as a dedicated heritage site. John was well known as a serious investigator and best selling author on the topic of the Sasquatch. In 2000, John was recognized as B.C. Senior of the Year, and more recently he was honoured at several public gatherings for his community service, research work and writing. A private family celebration of his life will be held. Flowers gratefully declined.
John’s forever love:
John Green’s wife, June Doreen Green (the former June Howard) passed away on January 17, 2012. June and John Green are the parents of five children. June had been ill for some time. Despite her health, she was at John’s side at 2011’s “A Tribute to John Green” (and was honored herself).