What is Skookum?

We are often asked, what does Skookum mean or where did the name come from?  If you google Skookum you'll find lots of  results, many local businesses and a few place names, like the Skookumchuck River.  Wikipedia has this which covers most of the commonly accepted definitions of the word.

Skookum is a Chinook Jargon word that has historical use in the Pacific Northwest. It has a range of meanings, commonly associated with an English translation of strong or monstrous. The word can mean strong,[1] greatest, powerful, ultimate, or brave. Something can be skookum, meaning "strong" or "monstrously significant". When used in reference to another person, e.g. "he's skookum", it conveys connotations of reliability or a monstrous nature, as well as strength, size or a hard-working nature.

You might have noticed the word monstrous in that definition.  If you read the Wikipedia page a bit further you'll see this:

skookum is a variety of mountain giant or monster similar to the Sasquatch or Bigfoot.[2] In the surviving Chinuk-Wawa spoken in Grand Ronde, Oregon, this variant is pronounced differently—skoo-KOOM—but when used in English with this meaning, it is pronounced the same way as the "big and strong" meaning.
Skookums were bad spirits or devils of which crows, eagles, owls, blue jays, various beasts and reptiles could be representations. They could inhabit people and cause serious illness.

While we prefer the first definition, the second one came to mind when we received a letter recently from a neighbor. (transcribed below)

Dear "Archers"
Recently while at a local riding stable, I was talking to a lady, age 89 who used to ride horses up Shaw Road, continuing up the hill behind Skookum Archers. This was in the late 1930's and early 40's. In a very matter of fact tone, she said "I remember as we came into the area where their building is now, our horses would get very nervous, and often rear, we could never figure out why. Then 3 different times, we saw, off to the side a hairy creature that our Dad told us was Bigfoot. Once, he was standing on the trail, other times standing under a large fir tree, kind of stooped over. We were scared to stop and watch him, especially since our horses were nervous and we didn't want to get bucked off. But I saw him, I remember him, and there was a smell in the area. We always knew when he was around because of the smell."
She also said, "We talked to other riders on the trails, and they had seen him too." This was back when Shaw Road was dirt, a very long time ago.

We don't think he's all that scary.