Cryptid Profile: The Traverspine Gorilla
In the early 1900’s, in the cold north of Canada, a young girl playing outside her home had an experience that would undoubtedly leave many individuals frightened, confused, and unsettled. The strange incident - which has gone on to become one of the more unique types of encounters on record - involved what is believed by many to be an extremely curious and disturbingly “friendly” bigfoot.
Reported to have taken place in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, sometime between 1903 and 1913, the encounter primarily centered around a family by the name of Michelin. This family would go on to claim that after the first encounter involving their young daughter, the creature would stick around in their lives for nearly two years before moving on.
The following information about the creature forever known as The Traverspine Gorilla comes from the 1933 book “True North”, the autobiography of author Elliot Merrick.
In his book, Merrick tells of leaving his job and home in New Jersey to live and work in the remote communities of Labrador. While only 24 at the time and working as an unpaid volunteer, Merrick documented his experiences working with trappers, traders, and the local First Nations People. During his stay in Labrador, Merrick collected a variety of stories regarding life in the vast, unforgiving Canadian wilderness at the time. But one story manages to stick out above all the others, the story involving the bigfoot.
The story begins on an Autumn afternoon with one of the Michelin’s daughters playing not too far from the Traverspine River in a field bordering a thick tree line. While the young girl (whose name has been lost to history) played in the grass, she started to hear the sound of heavy footsteps approaching from within the forest in front of her. Curious, the girl sat up and stared into the wall of trees, waiting to see what was approaching. As she listened and watched, she began to see a large dark shape getting closer to the field. Becoming more and more nervous as the seconds passed, the girl slowly rose to her feet without breaking eye contact with the large shadow in front of her. As she calmly started to step backward, the large shape began to emerge from the trees.
The young girl stood frozen in shock as she watched a large, dark-haired, gorilla-like creature walk out of the woods on all fours. Unable to move out of fear, the girl stared at the creature as it rose up from all fours and proceeded to stand on two legs. While in this position, the girl was able to see that what she originally thought were front legs, were actually large arms that hung down past the creature's knees. She also noticed that on the top of its head and around its neck, there appeared to be white hair that somewhat resembled a shaggy mane.
Quickly realizing that she may possibly be in danger, the girl mustered up the courage to continue backing away from the unknown creature. As she began to move though, the beast turned its head to stare directly at her, opened its large mouth, and smiled at the girl in an unnervingly creepy way while showing its large teeth in the process. Terrified now, the girl turned to run, but just before she did, she watched as the creature raised its large hand and motioned for her to come closer. Not wanting to stick around any longer, the girl let out a scream and ran as fast as she could back home. The creature continued to smile and stare.
Upon arriving back home, the young girl quickly told her father of what she had encountered. The father, along with other men from the area, took up arms and headed to the location where his daughter had seen the beast. When the group arrived though, the creature was nowhere to be seen. But after searching the area for proof, the men discovered large, two-toed tracks that measured nearly 12in long and were pressed deep into the dirt. Now truly convinced that what the young girl had seen was real, the group returned to their homes and began to secure their houses for the night in case the creature came back.
While the creature did not return to the area that night, it did show up a few days later. That evening around dusk, the second Michelin daughter played in one of the rooms with the two family dogs. As the girl ran around chasing the pets, she happened to catch sight of a large creature staring into one of the home windows. The child promptly let out a shriek and cried out for her mother to hurry. The dogs began barking loudly at the window. Unaware of the reason for the commotion, Mrs. Michelin ran into the room to see what was the matter. Immediately as she entered, she too caught sight of the large, nearly 7ft tall, white-maned creature staring into the home with a large hand now pressed on the glass.
Without hesitation, Mrs. Michelin grabbed the hunting rifle that was kept in the home and ran toward the front door. As if driven by pure adrenaline and instinct to protect her children, Mrs. Michelin opened the door and fired a shot in the direction of the creature, sadly though, she missed. The creature turned, dropped onto all fours, and fled back into the woods as the protective mother fired another shot, but again she had missed. While reloading, the woman watched as the white mane of the creature disappeared into the trees, the two dogs behind her continued barking wildly.
With the gun in hand, Mrs. Michelin stepped outside to inspect the area as the dogs sniffed around while on high alert. As she scanned the ground beneath her, she noticed that pressed into the dirt around the home, there were the same large two-toed tracks her husband and the other men had discovered down by the Traverspine River. Realizing she had encountered the same creature that had approached her daughter, the woman took one last look around and went back inside.
That night, with the family all together, the Michelin’s slept upstairs as a group. They brought with them two guns and an axe; the front door was secured with a thick wooden beam. The dogs slept downstairs and guarded the windows and door. If the creature came back that night, they would be ready.
A few days passed before the creature came around yet again, this time at night though. As the family slept, their loyal dogs kept watch outside. The creature, quite possibly not aware the dogs were there, approached the house as it did so before. But this time, the dogs ran towards it before it could get to the window. As the dogs barked loudly and kept the creature away from the house, the family inside the home woke up. Mr. Michelin ran to the window and watched as the dogs approached the creature to drive it further away from the home. But as it got closer to the trees, the beast cracked a large branch off a tree and began swinging it at the dogs. Undeterred though, the dogs continued to guard the house.
Appearing to become more upset at the obstacle in front of it, the creature hurled the large branch at the angry dogs. Missing it’s intended target, the branch collided with the home. Watching from behind the glass, Mr. Michelin readied his gun. Not wanting his dogs to end up dead, and hoping to possibly end this once and for all, he opened the door and prepared to take a shot. The creature, momentarily breaking its attention away from the dogs, turned and looked at Mr. Michelin standing in the doorway.
As if remembering what had happened last time, the creature immediately turned away, dropped onto all fours and fled the area. The dogs followed quickly behind. Mr. Michelin kept watch the rest of the night until his dogs returned a few hours later. The pair were battered and quite wet, but they had survived. It was thought that the loyal pets had either chased the creature through the Traverspine River or had been tossed in during the second scuffle. Either way, they had driven the creature away.
As winter approached in the following weeks, the dogs were brought back inside. The family had assumed that the creature would no longer be coming around for fear of not only the dogs but also the weapons inside. It had been a while since anything happened and they honestly believed their encounters with the beast were done, but what they didn’t realize was that this creature was just as determined to get close to the house, as they were to keep it away from the house.
In the following days, the creature appeared yet again outside the home at night. At this point it appeared to be following a set routine of sorts; it would start by walking the parameter of the house, would then move on to looking in the windows, and would finish up by tapping on the glass. The dogs went wild inside the home, as usual, barking and growling at the beast outside. They appeared to have developed a sixth sense for when the creature was near. Mr. and Mrs. Michelin gathered their children as usual upstairs and kept watch for the rest of the night, the guns and axes close by in case they were needed. When the creature grew tired of creeping around it would lumber off back into the woods.
This routine continued well throughout the winter and into the next year. The creature, on no schedule but it’s own, would show up every once in a while and would poke around the house before retreating back to the woods. It was always the same thing; the creature shows up at night, the family is awoken and arms themselves, the dogs guard the house, the creature leaves. This started happening so frequently that the family eventually grew accustomed to never leaving their property without their weapons and even grew to tolerate the barking of the dogs on the nights the creature decided to come around, they had learned to just live with it. This continued for over two years before the creature finally stopped coming around all together and was never seen in the area again.
The Michelin’s never found out why The Traverspine Gorilla stopped coming to their home, but they weren’t going to complain. They had finally gotten the peace they had so desperately desired after two long years. They also never figured out why it had chosen them in the first place. Out of everywhere this thing could have gone, why did it pick them? Was it because it felt it had formed a connection with the daughter? Was it curious about how many people were inside the home because it saw someone new every time? Perhaps these were actually the first people it had ever seen and it was interested in learning more about them? Or maybe this is nothing more than a good story told to a young man far away from home.
-The Pine Barrens Institute