- MONTREAL - It's back. The
apparition that 34 years ago buzzed Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia, sending
a thrill of terror through the fisherfolk below, is making a return appearance
by popular demand - in the form of a government-approved postmark.
- Starting today, letters and parcels mailed from the harbor
village on the ragged southern tip of the maritime province will be stamped,
on request, with a nicely nautical image of a lighthouse and an oldtime
fishing schooner scudding before the wind. With a flying saucer hovering
- The blue-ink cancellation stamp, approved for sole use
by Shag Harbour's post office, may be the planet's only mail-sack homage
to an extraterrestrial visitor.
- Oct. 4, 1967, is still a red letter date for those who
think long, hard, and obsessively about unidentified flying objects. "The
Shag Harbour incident may well become the enduring testament to the UFO
phenomenon," said UFO investigator Don Ledger, coauthor with Chris
Styles of a new book about the event called "Dark Object."
- It surely was a night to remember for the hamlet, transformed
within hours into ground zero of a search operation that saw military aircraft
and vessels from the United States and Canada scouring the sea, and, allegedly,
mysterious Yanks in dark suits tersely telling anyone who asked that nothing
unusual was going on. Just another strayed weather balloon.
- "Whatever it was, it made us the Roswell of the
north," said Shag Harbour Postmaster Cindy Nickerson, referring to
the New Mexico community where UFOlogists believe the U.S. government covered
up the crash of an alien spaceship in 1947.
- The new postmark reads: "Shag Harbour, Home of the
'67 UFO Visit."
- Scoffers may scoff, jeerers may jeer, but the dozen or
so fishermen and other locals who stood gape-jawed by the old Irish moss
plant on the harborfront that night aren't backing an inch from their tale.
- "It doesn't matter who believes us, or doesn't,"
said Norman Smith, who twice a week drives a truck laden with lobsters
to market in Boston. "We know what we saw."
- Smith was 18 years old, hitchhiking home from a "night
of chasing girls on Cape Sable" when he and a friend rounded Bear
Point, stopping dead in their tracks in astonishment. "There were
five lights shining from a flying object sort of tilted at an angle,"
Smith recalled. "It was terrifying."
- They raced into Shag Harbour, rousing Smith's uncle,
fisherman Lawrence Smith. By now, the apparition had whisked from over
the village to about a mile-and-a-half out to sea. A Royal Canadian Mounted
Police officer patrolling Route 3 spotted the thing as it seemed to settle
onto the water, then sink. One lawman thought he was witnessing the death
plunge of a conventional aircraft.
- By dawn, the military was taking charge, later insisting
that nothing unusual was discovered. "Probably we'll never know exactly
what it was," said Norman Smith.