Alexandros of Antioch sculpted Venus de Milo, Leonardo da Vinci had Mona Lisa and, now, Ken Walker has his masterpiece, Patty the Sasquatch.
Source: Calgary Herald
Walker, who has studios in Alberta Beach, a village just west of Edmonton, is an award-winning, internationally recognized taxidermist. He’s worked on Siberian tigers, cougars, owls, and even did a panda reproduction. But five years ago, Walker took on the biggest challenge of his career after he became intrigued with the legend of Sasquatch.
“Like many people, I had seen the iconic 1967 Patterson film clip of a Sasquatch. I always firmly believed it was a real creature and a real video. I wanted to build a replica of that creature but no one would give me a commission and I knew a project like that would be time-consuming and expensive,” says Walker.
That’s when fate intervened in the person of Dan Wayne, a Kansas City-based filmmaker. Wayne had become interested in the burgeoning world of competitive taxidermy, even considering learning the craft himself, so he started researching the superstars of the art.
“I was blown away by all the bizarre characters in this world and Ken quickly rose to the top of my list. He is a brilliant recreator but, more importantly, he’s a very funny, personable guy.
“I approached him to see about making him the centrepiece of a film on taxidermy. During our initial talks, he told me he wanted to build a Sasquatch and I knew I had my film,” says Wayne, who began collaborating with Walker on a documentary called Big Fur. Now completed, it had just begun making the rounds of film festivals when the COVID pandemic shut them down. The film is now available on most streaming services including iTunes and Amazon.
Walker admits he “initially knew very little about Sasquatch, but as soon as I expressed my interest in them, I heard from hunters who had seen them. There are 500 recorded sightings of Sasquatch every year.
“British Columbia records the most sightings, with Ontario around the Great Lakes a close second. Manitoba has a good share of the sightings followed by Alberta and Saskatchewan. If you are genuinely interested in seeing a Sasquatch, you need to invest in a very good pair of night vision goggles. That’s your best bet.”
Walker says that Waterton, the Crowsnest Pass, and areas west of Edson and around Slave Lake are good places to visit to catch sight of a Sasquatch. He says the route known as the Forestry Trunk Road or Alberta Provincial Highway 734 is routinely travelled by these elusive creatures.
“I recently received a photo from someone who was walking in the Elbow Lake (Kananaskis) area. The Sasquatch ran in front of her. It’s a decent photo,” says Walker, who admits “there are those people who think I’m crazy. We just leave each other alone.”
One spring, Walker happened upon what he believes was a Sasquatch nest – a unique formation of tree branches and trunks – and discovered large deposits of frozen scat.
“It’s in my fridge at home. I sent samples to a lab to be tested. They said their tests were inconclusive, which I thought meant they couldn’t find any DNA, but then I read on. What they said was the DNA they found didn’t match anything in their database. They told me to hold on to my samples until there is something for them to compare it with.”
The Big Fur film follows Walker as he designs and creates Patty the Sasquatch based on frame-by-frame analysis of the Patterson video. He meticulously carved his 360-kilogram replica (believed to be life-sized) out of Styrofoam, eventually covering it with hides from Highland steers.
Patty made her debut at the World Taxidermy Championship in Springfield, Mo., in 2019.
“Word quickly leaked out I was bringing my Sasquatch recreation. I didn’t even win a ribbon because she wasn’t eligible for competition, but I was in every article written about the event and on the day they opened the convention centre to the public, the lineups were around the block with people more than eager to pay their $10 entry fee. Patty was a big hit.”
Walker’s sculpture now resides at Wayne’s home.
“Patty exists because of Dan and his film so I felt it was only right he should have her. He spent a lot of his personal savings on the movie. I’m determined to make a second copy and I’ll keep that one.
“What I hope from all this exposure we’re receiving from the film is that someone is going to … bring out the definitive proof to share with the world. I know it’s out there and it’s much more than the Sasquatch scat I have in my fridge.”
Source: Calgary Herald