Canada Researcher
Chronicles A Century
Of UFO Reports

WINNIPEG (CP) -- Explorer David Thompson got the ball rolling with Canada's first recorded UFO sighting in 1792, a tale lifted from his Hudson Bay journals that would do very nicely as an episode of The X-Files.
"He and a companion were camped out in the middle of the winter in a very isolated area near a lake and they saw what he described as a large gelatinous blob ... flying through the air," says Chris Rutkowski, a Winnipeg UFO researcher and author. "It appeared to fall to the earth on the frozen lake not far from them." The sighting took place near what is now Thicket Portage, just south of Thompson, Man., which isn't named after the famous fur trader and map maker. (It's named after former Inco president John Thompson, who paid the guys who built the town.)
At any rate, David Thompson and his companion failed to find any sign of the blob on the ground, but they did see a similar object in the sky a few days later.
Ever since, Canadians have continued to see strange objects or lights in the sky and report other contact with what many insist are visiting aliens.
Rutkowski has been chronicling and investigating these stories for almost 25 years and he has culled what he considers to be 11 of the strangest tales of the last 100 years from his files. "Whether or not they are real is irrelevant," says the founder of Ufology Research of Manitoba, whose latest book on the subject, Abductions and Aliens, has just been published by Dundurn in Toronto. "They have each fired the Canadian imagination and fascination with the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe."
Rutkowski's weird and wonderful list starts with a 1915 phantom invasion of aerial objects over wartime Ottawa that was never explained.
It was scary enough for officials to turn out the lights on Parliament Hill to avoid presenting a tempting target to the "enemy." "It caused such a concern that they actually did put Ottawa on alert."
The list concludes in Duncan, B.C., in 1980 with the strange tale of Granger Taylor. The teenager was obsessed with aliens and UFOs, building a full-size mockup of a flying saucer in his backyard. One day he announced to his friends he was going to be taken away by aliens. He was never seen again.
But those aren't the strangest stories as far as Rutkowski is concerned.
"Out of all of them it would be a toss-up between Shirley's Bay and Shag Harbour."
Shirley's Bay, Ont., is where Wilbert Smith, a Canadian Defence Department engineer, set up equipment in 1954 he said detected a large magnetic disturbance which he believed to be from an alien spacecraft.
More important perhaps for UFO researchers, it was from Smith's meetings with American investigators at the time that they learned of incidents like the alleged crash of a flying saucer near Roswell, N.M.
Shag Harbour, N.S., is where something crashed into the ocean in October 1967 that had people in the area gossiping for years.
American navy vessels appeared, divers recovered something and mysterious green foam was seen on the water, but there was never a satisfactory explanation. "I would classify those as the most unusual among all the 11," says Rutkowski.
If those are the strangest, he says the most significant is the case of Steve Mihalak, burned by an object he said landed near Falcon Lake, Man., in May 1967, the same year as the strange goings-on near Shag Harbour. "It was investigated by American and Canadian military and government officials and it stood the test of time," says Rutkowski.
Mihalak died last October. "Right to the very end he insisted that what he had seen and what occurred to him happened just as he said."
Rutkowski says there has been a slight decline in the number of UFO sightings in Canada, to about 200 a year. He had been expecting a little "millennium fever" that might push up the number of sightings as 1999 draws to a close.
But while the numbers may be down, interest is definitely up, he says.
"People are very much into this sort of thing."


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