Impact to Contact: The Shag Harbour Incident is the new book from Arcadia House Publishing by Maritime authors Chris Styles and Graham Simms detailing their investigation of the Shag Harbour and Shelburne UFO Incidents of October 1967. The Shag Harbour Incident was an international Cold-War event that has secured a place in Canadian history. This book represents the culmination of 20 years of comprehensive research into the case.
Although the Shag Harbour Incident is officially acknowledged as an unsolved UFO case there remain aspects of it, such as the Shelburne Story, that remain within the top secret military "Black Box".
Co-author Chris Styles was the first person to reinvestigate the Shag Harbour case and to access military documents confirming the reality of the UFO crash and subsequent search for the object. In his research he unearthed top secret RCMP UFO X-files in the archives of Saint Mary's University Jesuit astronomer Burke-Gaffney, who secretly investigated UFOs (including the Shag Harbour Incident) for the National Research Council and RCMP, information that first appeared in his best selling 2001 co-authored book, Dark Object.
Graham Simms has reviewed the Shag Harbour case in relation to other UFO cases from eastern Canada, the history of Canadian government, military and press involvement in the topic, the history of corporate and military development of UFO technology, and how aspects of the historical folklore of the south-shore of the province correlates to modern UFO experiences. In the book he explores the hypothesis that the Shag Harbour and Shelburne UFO incidents may be part of an ongoing UFO presence in the area.
Some of the fascinating facts uncovered by the authors in Impact to Contact: The Shag Harbour Incident include:
* Nova Scotia was a hot-spot for UFOs from late 1950s to early 1980s according to official UFO reports and witness testimony;
* Navy and Air Force witnesses confirm that Canadian Forces have chased and observed UFOs underwater and in the air off the coast of Nova Scotia regularly since the 1960s;
* Several local UFO incidents explored in the book indicate intelligent control and purpose behind the objects;
* Some Nova Scotians have endured lifelong psychological and physical trauma from close encounters with UFOs;
* Several claims have been made that physical artifacts, possibly of extraterrestrial origin, were recovered during the Shag and Shelburne incidents. New witness testimony strengthens the veracity of those long standing claims;
* Lighthouse keeper Erwin Banks found what he believes to have been a piece from the crashed UFO on the shore of Bon Portage Island in October 1967. Under instructions from the Coast Guard he wrapped up the artifact and delivered it to a United States naval officer;
* The Defence Research Board (formerly located in Dartmouth) received artifacts and film of the Shag Harbour UFOs taken by a Navy diver, artifacts which are now missing;
* Diver David Cvet has been conducting a series of dives to retrieve samples for analysis from anomalous depressions found at bottom of Shag Harbour. He contributes an appendix chapter to the book.
* Undersea anomalous depressions were first identified by Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO) scientists Gordon Fader from/via side-scan sonar taken by the BIO ship Navicula in 1985. The anomalies, just outside of Shag Harbour, were subsequently located in 2008 by diver-master David Cvet. His October 2013 dive will retrieve samples of the depressions which will be sent to scientists for analysis for evidence of their cause.
* During the Shag Harbour Incident, Chronicle-Herald publisher, Coast-Guard, Defence Research Board (DRB), US military and some aspects of the Canadian military were complicit in a UFO cover-up.
* William Bain, the head of the RCAF 'Air Desk' UFO investigations in 1967, told the author that the US "stick-handled" Canada into covering up top secret aspects of the UFO crash.
* At the time of the Shag Harbour Incident a Pan Am airliner had a near collision with a UFO at 33,000 feet over the Gulf of Maine. The pilots reveal their gripping story.
"The Shag Harbour Incident remains the world's only UFO crash scenario that is supported in that interpretation by government documents that are freely available and without controversy as to their origin or authenticity." Chris Styles
"Impact to Contact: The Shag Harbour Incident serves to remind us that some UFO cases defy explanation and that both science and government are in a position of default by choosing to ignore the UFO phenomena." Graham Simms
"Canada's most interesting UFO case" Maclean's Magazine
"Like real-life equivalents of Holmes and Watson, Chris Styles and Graham Simms dig deeply and eagerly into a mystery of crashed UFO proportions that even eclipses Roswell. Packed to the brim with accounts of credible witnesses, military files, human-alien encounters, and suspiciously "missing" official documents, Impact to Contact is an excellent, in-depth study of a ufological classic ." Nick Redfern, author of The Real Men in Black.
"Much more than just another Roswell knock-off on the crashed flying saucer meme, Impact to Contact is a well-written and thought-provoking detective story about the officially documented 1967 Shag Harbour UFO incident that forces the reader to consider the very real possibility that we are not alone - not only in this universe, but on this very planet."
Paul Kimball- filmmaker and author, 'The Other Side of Truth'
The Twenty Year Picnic
Making the Case for an Extended ET Presence in Nova Scotia
"Discovery consists of seeing what everyone has seen and thinking what nobody has thought."
- Albert Szent-GyoI^rgyi, Nobel Prize-winning physiologist
"One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a long time."
- AndreI Gide
Ufology is a rich hunting ground. As philosopher of science and its revolutions Thomas Kuhn pointed out, "Discovery begins with the awareness of anomaly" (Kuhn 1962). That is why examination of anomalous phenomena, such as UFOs, may be one of the more profitable avenues for understanding the universe. The concept of any form of nonhuman intelligence stimulates something within that is both profound and primal. Humankind's quest to discover the existence of worlds and intelligent species other than our own may serve to challenge or even invalidate many traditional scientific and cultural dogmas. We should prepare ourselves with open minds and hearts to the full range of possibilities.
Chris Styles approached the Shag Harbour Incident as a ufologist. It would be my lot to "cast a wider net" and approach the case more as a theorist of the paranormal. I began by interviewing Chris, eventually dozen of times. We usually did this at his residence, and I recorded his stories and answers to my questions on digital recorder. Next I reviewed the available Canadian UFO data collections. The most extensive of these is known as Records Group 77 (RG 77) and is held at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. It was my hope that this insight into UFO sightings of the period would provide some kind of framework and context to further interpret the Shag Harbour Incident.
My introduction into the world of active UFO research was nothing like I imagined it would be. I was handling and sorting through hundreds of government documents, files, and microfilm. The eclectic demands of UFO research required a steep learning curve of intuitive and academic abilities, not the stuff of any high school or undergrad program. There was a lot of bureaucracy and procedure to just access the UFO files that contained huge servings of "alphabet soup," military and RCMP acronyms. There were the intricacies and frustrations of the interlibrary loan system. And then there were the "cheap tricks" that helped narrow the focus of a document search when the dates were "soft." You take your best guess and alternate microfilm reels one at a time both behind and ahead of your best estimate. And of course there are the endless poor copies, often illegible but always clearly marked with the label "poor copy." I gained an appreciation of the archival work done by those UFO researchers who have advanced the field in so many ways by doing their frequently mind-numbing homework and unearthing the necessary paper trails.
Chris provided me with further documentation such as RCMP files that were found amongst the Burke-Gaffney Collection held at Saint Mary's University in Halifax. There was also a plethora of press clippings and periodical articles. Many of these exhibit considerable repetition, including factual mistakes that get repeated time and again. However, some of the articles are significant and indispensable. Perhaps the best example is the Aerial Phenomenon Research Organization (APRO) Preliminary Report prepared for the late prolific investigator Jim Lorenzen. That eight-page overview contains a level of detail not seen within the press coverage. The APRO investigator spoke to the watch officer at Maritime Command who revealed details of the interest and extent of US military operations at the time of the incident in the nearby Gulf of Maine, not far from the area of the UFO crash. The report identifies all of its sources. Lorensen, director of APRO at the time, was one of the few researchers who followed up on the Shag Harbour Incident and is an unsung hero in the history of UFO research.
Sometimes in all the digging through documents you get "a live one." When you read between the lines and the writer allows a few "juicy" details, your hair can stand on end. Suddenly, a police report can become a very human story. I certainly got that tingle during my investigation into the claims of British UFO researcher Phil Hoyle in his letters to Chris, explored in detail in chapter 10.
It was fascinating for me to speak to and interview some of those who were in Shag Harbour at the time of the incident, such as Laurie Wickens and former Halifax Chronicle-Herald reporter Ray MacLeod, who wrote the October 7, 1967 headline story "Could Be Something Concrete in Shag Harbour UFO - RCAF" (MacLeod 1967). They both suspected the UFO was actually a secret American craft. Although I do not agree, their views are understandable, given the specifics and that we now know there were secret craft being tested around that time, as discussed in chapter 7. In the interests of completeness and seeking a fresh perspective I decided to include an examination of local folklore. My mentor, Harvard's Dr. John Mack and veteran UFO researcher Jacques Vallee always spoke about the relationship between the UFO phenomenon and folklore, and it seemed a natural place to look. This approach yielded some surprising results, examined in chapter 9.
When Chris Styles and Don Ledger began investigating the Shag Harbour Incident in the early 1990s the National Archives RG 77 files were only available on microfilm, which had to be obtained through interlibrary loan. Now the collection is available online. There are even Archives web pages that 1 exclusively feature the mystery of the Shag Harbour UFO crash. One of the first things to "jump off of the page" when examining the RG 77 files is the time frame. The collection falls between the early sixties and the early eighties. Perhaps the cut-off dates were arbitrary, but that span of two decades seems to coincide with the best estimate that Chris and many of the residents of Nova Scotia's southwestern shore have as the time frame when UFO incidents were most commonplace. That impression would solidify as I became more familiar with the document record and eyewitness accounts. Chris and I started to think of those two decades as "the twenty year picnic," a name inspired by Ray Bradbury's story, "The Million Year Picnic."
The quantity and in some cases the quality of the UFO cases found within RG 77 can be daunting. For the most part they are credible, believable accounts from all types of people. Details run the gamut from dry, slightly odd details to extremely bizarre encounters. Although each case is unique in some way, many exhibit certain consistencies across the nation throughout the twenty years covered by the collection. Extreme velocity, sudden acceleration, and disappearance are common features of the crafts' behaviour. The reports also seem to indicate patterns of behaviour in terms of geography, flight characteristics, and vehicle descriptions. Nocturnal lights outnumbered daytime sightings; structured craft and flying saucers were prevalent. The strongest overall impression I received from reviewing RG 77, was the persistence of UFO activity throughout the twenty year period along the Atlantic coast. UFO cases in the Maritimes seem to vary slightly from "the norm." I paid special attention to the details, consistencies, and inconsistencies of coastal sightings over Nova Scotia's southwestern shore, which includes Shag Harbour and Shelburne County. Certain types of UFOs were sighted time and again. Some of these types are commonplace in the field, such as orbs, often orange or yellow in colour. Recollections about the heyday of this type of UFO sighting are common when speaking with eyewitnesses along the southwestern shore. In fact Chris found that on Cape Sable Island many spoke of the parental concern of families that lived near the shore during the period. Moms and dads would sternly warn children, "If you see the orange balls, go the other way. Don't go near them or bother them." Other types of UFOs were much rarer but showed up repeatedly, such as a three sectioned type of craft that Chris calls "tea strainers" due to a translucent, mesh-like middle section that witnesses could typically see into. All of these manifestations of UFO phenomena were not just part of local folklore but an accepted part of everyday life.
There were several factors among the Canadian UFO reports from the 1950s through the 1980s that suggested a link among the activity around Nova Scotia. There were dense clusters of reports from the South Shore of Nova Scotia up to Newfoundland. Most of these sightings were associated with the ocean. In terms of the mainland of Nova Scotia, away from the coast, there was also a density of sightings reported around the centre of the province near the innermost area of the Bay of Fundy, around Stewiack, Debert-from Springhill to Truro. Both the coastal and land sightings were predominantly of the large illuminated orange balls, secondary only to disc sightings.
Nova Scotia UFO encounters have a different quality from much of the UFO literature of the time. There were many sightings that were almost but not quite close encounters. There was a marked absence of abductions yet plenty of interactions between witnesses and UFOs that suggest communication and an intelligence behind the craft. The UFO phenomenon in the Maritimes can be seen as modern folklore. The fact that a very high percentage of the population of the Maritimes has Celtic or Native ancestry- the two genealogies with the highest rate of UFO encounters-suggests a further link.
An Ongoing Operation?
After spending considerable time analyzing the data, it seemed to me that some of these UFO events had to be connected and not merely random in nature. Not only was there clearly intelligence behind the majority of the incidents, but I began to suspect that what unfolded during the Shag Harbour Incident and Shelburne flap may have been part of an ongoing operation and indicated a long-term extended presence by mysterious "visitors" attracted to the area.
UFO activity appears to have occurred not only throughout those recent decades but possibly for centuries when one allows for how UFOs might have been interpreted before the dawn of the so-called "modern UFO era." In one memorable conversation, I chided Chris just a little. "Why didn't you and Don consider that Shag Harbour might have been part of an ongoing presence in the area?" It was a consideration that I did not recall reading in Dark Object. Chris explained that it had been discussed a number of times in the early nineties when the manuscript was coming together, but it was a time of information overload, endless interviews, and deadlines. Chris claimed that he felt that the possibility of an ongoing alien presence was a valid premise, but there was no time to pursue vetting it. He admitted that that sounded like a lame excuse, and it was a fair criticism. Chris went on to explain that the plethora of other cases did influence his understanding of the UFO phenomenon and in fact led to his "blended view," which allows room for both the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) and a strong psychic component, that is, encounters that involve interaction with the consciousness of the experiencer.
One of my interviews with Chris yielded another reason to consider an ongoing presence throughout the '60s, '70s and '80s. Chris told me about his 1995 interview with William Bain, who was the Squadron Leader of the RCAF's "Air Desk" in Ottawa at the time of the Shag Harbour Incident in 1967. Bain provided some insight on the East Coast situation at that time and the authoritarian attitudes of some Canadians regarding UFOs. Bain and his colleagues at the Air Desk took the UFO phenomenon and their investigations quite seriously. Their on-site investigations sometimes employed considerable resources and civilian scientific consultants, as was the case with both Shag Harbour and the Michalak case discussed in chapter 7. Bain explained that he thought there had to be "something" behind the UFO phenomenon due to the well documented history of military pilots chasing and being chased by UFOs. In fact, William Bain admitted to seeing what he called "tricks of light" and other unknowns that he reluctantly attributed to the phenomenon when he was a young military pilot flying off of the coast of Nova Scotia. To my mind the very existence of the Air Desk back in the 1960s indicates Ottawa's acknowledgement of UFO reality and attests to the ongoing UFO presence off the North Atlantic coast throughout that decade.
Reports of UFOs kept the RCMP busy throughout the '60s, '70s, and '80s, especially in Nova Scotia. RG 77 and RG 18 abound with hundreds of these UFO reports. The Mounties had a standard form just for that purpose, known as the HQ-400-Q5 document. There are many archived reports of RCMP staff on active duty who filed UFO reports without any civilian complaint as a precursor. Officers on speed trap duty would witness a UFO event and simply write it up. And that is one of the great things about the RCMP. Everything they do generates a paper trail. In Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) serves as a national police force and is often hired in some regions as a provincial or municipal force. It is a unique role, and the members are trained to a high standard. As investigators they are taught to "write what you see, nothing more." The result is that as far as UFO investigations go, they are a "disinterested" party that can be relied upon to report the unembellished facts. So the pool of archived RCMP UFO reports is a unique resource that can be an important starting point to launch a civilian investigation of any Canadian UFO cold case that involved the RCMP. I intended to fully exploit this resource.
In addition to the entire history of activity of UFOs in Nova Scotia, another straightforward reason to consider a connection between the Shag Harbour Incident and the ongoing presence of UFOs in the province is the sightings observed on the "Night of the UFOs," October 4, 1967. A number of both similar and dissimilar lights were seen in the skies that night across Nova Scotia, out at sea and over the Bay of Fundy, and even in the busy Halifax Harbour. UFO sightings persisted for days and even weeks in some Maritime locations. And new data continues to be discovered to strengthen the case for one of the busiest UFO flaps on record. Only in the fall of 2008 did Chris and I become aware, via our New Brunswick colleague, Stanton Friedman, of the UFO sighting of Pan Am Flight 160, forty-eight hours before the Shag Harbour crash (discussed in detail in chapter 16). The description of the UFO that the crew observed on October 2, 1967, at 39,000 feet, while Flight 160 was approaching the Nova Scotia coast about sixty miles from Shag Harbour, was extremely similar to that of the craft that struck the water two days later. At times over the six minute Pan Am event the UFO became a collision threat. The six flight crew aboard Pan Am Flight 160 witnessed the UFO depart with a manoeuvre that would be impossible for any conventional aircraft. The high number of such credible reports argues that UFO activity in the area was organized and persistent. It also suggests that the location of the Shag Harbour Incident was not random chance. Whether Shelburne County or the ocean off its shore was the location of some sort of UFO base remains unknown; however, it seems to have been at least a "traditional stopping place."
Another factor that led me to consider the premise of connection and inclusion is found within the hearts and minds of the people who live in the communities affected by periods of frequent UFO activity. We'll begin with the concerns of Mr. R. Grandy Irwin, who was an insurance salesman in the town of Shelburne in the 1960s. In August 1968 Mr. Irwin felt compelled to put pen to paper and send his concerns to the authorities.
The Irwin Encounter
On August 16, 1968, some ten months after the crash of Shag Harbour's mysterious "dark object," R. Grandy Irwin typed a report on his insurance company's stationary that he posted to the base Commanding Officer (CO) at CFS Barrington at Baccaro. His report describes repeated sightings of self- illuminated spheres by himself and others on the evenings of August 12 and August 15 in the Shelburne area. At one point he suggests that the authorities should search the uninhabited woods of Shelburne County near an isolated lake for the source of the UFOs. Nova Scotia has countless inaccessible lakes, and some may have never been visited by modern man except by air. Mr. Irwin states that "the area in the vicinity of Harper's Lake...would be a most likely place for an uninvited visitor to seek sanctuary during the daylight hours."2
Mr. Irwin observed the UFOs from the western veranda of his home on the corner of Water Street and St. Patrick's Lane in the town of Shelburne. The first UFO sighting, on August 12, 1968, occurred around 9:45 pm. Irwin was outside watching twilight disappear to the west. As true nightfall appeared so did a light between two stars underneath the planet Venus, which was in the northwest. Irwin describes the light as being as bright as Venus, and it was in motion when it appeared. It was thirty-five to forty degrees above the horizon and was headed southwest. It moved at enormous speeds, changing course in forty-five degree increments with no loss in velocity. The UFO was silent and left no trail. Irwin writes,
The object was proceeding at an enormous speed and veered first to the left and then to the right at very sharp angles of approximately 45 degrees at each change in direction. These changes in direction were instantaneous and required no discernible lapse of time. It appeared to change direction about six times but always remained on its same general course toward the Southwest, where it dis- appeared from my sight. Whether its disappearance was by reason of the great distance it had traveled or whether the light had been extinguished by mechanical means, it is impossible for me to say. The elapsed time from the time of the 3 sighting until the time of disappearance would have been about ten seconds.
This type of motion is commonly reported and is reminiscent of the "skipping rock" motion described by Kenneth Arnold, whose historic UFO sighting, which occurred in June 1947 while he was flying his private plane near Mount Rainier in Washington state, is generally considered to be the first of the "modern UFO era." In fact the term flying saucer was applied by Arnold and the journalists of the day to describe the motion, not the shape, of the objects seen by Arnold. Arnold's UFOs were in fact shaped like flat crescents that resemble the Batman logo. The term "unidentified flying object," or UFO, is a USAF term and lay a few years into the future, circa 1952.
Grandy Irwin's second UFO sighting, on August 15, 1968 lasted for two hours. On that evening he had binoculars, and his wife was present and also witnessed the spectacle.
Mr. Irwin's report was forwarded from CFS Barrington to the Meteor Centre of the National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa, where UFOs were automatically classified as meteors in name at least. It was later returned to CFS Barrington and forwarded to the Canadian Forces headquarters. Less than a week later it was sent to the NRC's repository where it would sit for decades, until Chris unearthed it.
History of UFO Activity in Nova Scotia
So how far back does the activity go in the area? Well, there is the classic Bay of Fundy case from the late 1700s. In his diary entry for October 12, 1796, Judge Simeon Perkins (1735-1812), a well-known politician and merchant from Liverpool, Nova Scotia, whose diaries are an essential primary source for historians studying Canada's colonial past, tells a strange story of a fleet of ships seen low in the sky slowly flying in formation over the Bay of Fundy (Innis et al. 1948). He recounts a man walking on the ground out front of the "fleet" with his arm and hand outstretched as if in greeting. There were several witnesses to the fleet of fifteen airships that flew slowly overhead at one o'clock that fall afternoon. It is one of the earliest recorded, non-indigenous sightings of an unidentified flying object on the North American continent. The local stories of illuminated spheres on Cape Sable Island and throughout Shelburne County seem to go back at least a century. Dates are not preserved in these local accounts recorded by witnesses, amateurs, and folklorists like the late Helen Creighton. But the legends of phantom ships go back at least as far as a century, if not two centuries.
One of the earliest UFO sightings found within the RG 77 microfilm involved a sighting from the summer of 1952 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, to the west of Shelburne County. In this case, a group of American tourists witnessed discs and half discs in formation flying just offshore over the ocean between Maine and Nova Scotia. The sighting was considered sound and serious enough to cause the FBI to alert the USAF, which contacted Canadian authorities. The RG 77 document, which was declassified in 1975, still had the witness identities blacked out. The witnesses, US tourists, had observed two formations of shiny silver crescent or bat-wing craft. Recently, another 1952 UFO encounter came to light that contains details 4 that are staggeringly similar to the Shag Harbour and Shelburne incidents that occurred fifteen years later. These details demonstrate that the alien encounters at Shelburne were not an isolated incident, and lend credence to the likelihood that the US military, if not the Canadian military, was familiar with what they were dealing with when it came to the UFO crash at Shag Harbour and the UFO observation mission at Shelburne.
Richard French, a retired Lt. Colonel in the US Air Force, testified in May 2013 at the Citizens Hearing on Disclosure before former members of Congress in Washington DC about his work in the 1950s and a UFO incident he witnessed in Newfoundland. At that time he was a lead investigator of Project Blue Book, which came up with ways to explain away UFO reports for the USAF. French recounted that in 1952 a UFO incident occurred off the coast of St. John's, Newfoundland, that he was ordered to investigate for the Air Force. The case was eerily similar to the Shelburne Incident fifteen years later. "There were a lot of people assembled on the wharf, at least 100 people standing around just looking in amazement at the water, including several local policemen." French recalled that the water was clear and that he saw two circular craft floating below the surface of the water, twenty feet from shore. He also saw two beings in the water near the ships, which he presumed were being repaired. The two beings were about two or three feet tall, light grey in color, very thin, long arms with either two or three fingers. The top of their heads was much wider than their jaw line, their eyes were very slanted, and you couldn't see pupils in them. They looked the way [aliens] have been depicted in motion pictures. (Huffington Post 2013)
The craft eventually rose out of the water, and "It then accelerated to somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,500 to 3,000 miles an hour and disappeared" (French 2013).
Just like the Shag Harbour Incident, there were two UFOs underwater just offshore, in the Atlantic, being repaired by aliens. Both the Shag Harbour and St. John's aliens were viewed by highly trained military officials. Both UFOs then took off from the water into the sky. Given the steady stream of UFO and USO sightings in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia reported between 1952 and 1967, the time of these dramatic incidents, it does not seem to be a coincidence that these two incidents were so similar and occurred so close together.
The Putnam Encounter
There is a Nova Scotian close encounter (CE-4) case that is not as well known as the more famous Michalak case (see chapter 7); however, Raymond Putnam's UFO experience of October 25, 1967, is every bit as engaging. Like the craft from the Shag Harbour Incident, this craft seemed to be having technical problems.
Mr. Putnam was the rear brakeman, or flagman, on the CN Rail "Cabot" train, which ran between Truro, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick, along the Cobequid Hills. At 3:15 pm on October 25, Putnam and two others on the train-a sleeping car conductor and an inspector from Montreal- witnessed what he called the "thing" in a sighting that lasted forty minutes. Eventually military jets arrived on the scene and seemed to pursue the craft, which "took off" in an unusual manner. The appearance of the craft and the exhaust trail it left were also atypical. He described the object as being shaped like an acorn with two large wings pointing upward. The wings were estimated to be from 150 to 200 feet wide and steel grey in colour. A blue light was visible between the wings. The three jet planes approached from a "considerable distance."
Here is an excerpt from Mr. Putnam's RCMP report.
It gave off a terrific radiation, as I tried to look at it I covered my face with my hands and peered through my hands with one eye and then the other. It seemed as I looked away from it that I could not believe my eyes and it was difficult to visualize what I had just seen. It followed along beside and at the rear of our train. From just 1a "4 mile past Wentworth nearly to Westchester and then followed the top of the mountain range toward the west. As it drifted away from our train it tipped to a 45 degree angle, the rear top end to the left and later rolled on to 1a "4 turn so that the flat sides were up and down. Shortly, a jet from a high altitude came in sight, diving at the same angle the demon was positioned, and directly towards the exhaust end of the UFO. The UFO then levelled out and a thin short exhaust was seen from behind it until it took the shape of a cigar and it looked just like a cloud, with the jet plane pursuing it. The jet never caught up with it as far as I could see. They went out of sight toward the west and to the left of the sun, time 3:50 pm AST.
Two men on the train witnessed the "thing," a sleeping car conductor and an inspector from Montreal. I have their names.
One week after, the hair on the back of my hands disappeared and my hands seemed to wither up some, they felt funny. My eyes got sore and seemed swelled hard. Two weeks later I thought I was taking pneumonia. My chest or ribs in front got sore. My throat got sore and still is. My forehead got greasy and later seemed to dry up. Now my eyes are sore and I had to get my glasses changed but they are still sore. I reported this to the RCMP and thought the Air Force would contact me and I'd get some help but have heard nothing. It tried to talk to my Dr. and have asked him for penicillin but he refused. I guess he thinks I'm nuts. Can you tell me anything [about] the thing, what kind of radiation-Atomic, Electro-magnetic, solar or what? What medication? I would like to talk to the crew on the plane that chased it sometime. Any help you can give I will greatly appreciate. 5
This case is somewhat unusual in that Putnam was not only reporting the experience out of concern and genuine curiosity but also due to his forty- minute exposure to some sort of radiation that had made him ill. He was looking to the military for advice on how to treat his resulting medical condition and to learn what it was that he had been exposed to. Ray Putnam never received any advice or special help. He was profoundly disappointed and was reluctant to speak of the case in his later years for fear of ridicule.
Putnam's "demon" UFO could have been either military or extraterrestrial. It may have been something less obvious than these concepts. According to the crypto-terrestrial theory put forth by Mac Tonnies, Putnam could have seen an advanced craft that was piloted by earth-based alien beings, long hidden away in underground or underwater bases (Tonnies 2010: 128). Another possibility is that the UFO may have originated from a postwar Nazi, German or Soviet effort or some unknown rogue group. Could the jet Putnam witnessed "chasing" the UFO have actually been escorting a military test flight? The way that Putnam's UFO was seen to change shape and morph into a cloud was unusual but is not unknown within UFO phenomena literature. To me it is indicative of an advanced technology but possibly less sophisticated than some other more dramatic modern sightings. Yet the contrail it left sounds fairly typical of current technology. Putnam's description of the flight characteristics would seem to imply that the craft was having some technical difficulties. Putnam thought that the jets were interceptors in hot pursuit of the UFO. Nearby at CFB Chatham there were a few Vampire trainers and tactical Voodoo jets that occasionally fulfilled this NORAD role.
Central Nova Scotia: Debert and Springhill
Near the innermost part of the Bay of Fundy is Springhill, Cumberland County. Springhill is 77 km from Debert and is on the line between Truro and New Brunswick where the Putnam encounter and several other noteworthy UFO incidents occurred during the Twenty Year Picnic. This spate of UFO sightings between Truro and Springhill included the nearby areas of Debert and Stewiack, which is at the centre of the province and exactly halfway between the equator and the North Pole.
Was there anything unusual about these areas that could have attracted the interest of possible aliens? During the Cold War, Debert housed the two-storey subterranean Regional Emergency Governmental Headquarters (REGH), nicknamed the "Diefenbunker" after John Diefenbaker, Canadian prime minister from 1957-1963. The Diefenbunker was one of five underground bunkers in Canada that functioned as government communication stations designed so that government could continue to function in the event of a nuclear attack. The only underground government bunker in the Maritime provinces, it opened in 1964.
Nearby Springhill is a historic mining area, with many unused subterranean mines. In fact the Springhill mines are still among the deepest underground works in the world, at over 15,000 feet below the surface. The Springhill mining disaster occurred on October 23, 1958, when a "bump" or underground earthquake collapsed some of the mines, killing and trapping miners. This was the most severe disaster in North American mining history and devastated the town. The Springhill mines, which were owned by a subsidiary of A.V. Roe, were never reopened. They were later flooded and today are used for drawing geothermal heat. Could groups of aliens have been interested in monitoring deep underground man-made recesses and structures, like the ones in Debert and nearby Springhill or in the natural abysses branching out from under the Bay of Fundy area?
The headline of the Springhill Record on Thursday, December 2, 1965 read "Strange Craft Seen On Springhill Boundary." Twelve-year-old Kevin Davis and ten-year-old Gary Jardine saw the object the previous Monday evening, November 29, 1965, hovering over the Surrette Battery Company in Springhill. They first saw the object "skimming along the skyline" over the former mining area. "It made a humming noise. There was a jet of fire going straight up from the tail, and a red dome on the roof blinked off and on." It looked like it was made of aluminum and had "porthole" type openings on the side. The air blowing out from under it as it hovered blew away snow and trampled bushes. The UFO released a smaller "probe" through a portal, twice. The newspaper stated:
As the boys watched, a long bar of the aluminum-type material, with one end divided into two parts "like fingers," came out of the largest opening ... from the craft, seeming to be also supported by air pressure. It returned to the craft, which then ejected it for a second time.... The whole roof of the vehicle was encased in glass or some equally transparent material and "we could faintly see three arcs of aluminum, or whatever it was, inside the windows." (The Record, Springhill, Nova Scotia, December 2, 1965)
The boys returned with their fathers and a large number of their friends immediately after the initial sighting, but the craft was gone. The boys collected an assortment of "radio or electronic bits" they found on the ground near the area of the encounter and brought them to the office of The Record newspaper. The newspaper returned the "bits" to Jardine's father. The newspaper added that "a somewhat similar if less detailed report has been heard of something seen over Fenwick last week." Fenwick is seventeen kilometres away from Springhill, toward New Brunswick along the same stretch of sightings between Truro and New Brunswick.
A follow-up article appeared addressing "the storm of controversy" following the initial report. Other witnesses came forward. Two dozen teenage boys came to the office of the newspaper with questions and wanting to see the "electronic bits."
Several mothers called and said the story was frightening children, while an- other mother told us her son rushed in and said: "Gosh, Mum, get out the good dishes-maybe we'll have men from Mars for supper!" A local business- man came into the office with a composite drawing describing the same craft seen over various sections of the USA. (The Record, Springhill, Nova Scotia, December 10, 1965)
On August 8, 1967, at 1:15 AM residents of Bible Hill observed a "very large orange ball" five miles east of Truro, giving off white light that flashed 6 approximately every two minutes. By 1:30 AM residents of nearby Upper Stewiack also saw the "large orange ball flashing in the sky" "in the direction of Truro in the Camden Road area." The investigating RCMP officer, Constable Noseworthy, personally observed flashing on the horizon.
Two weeks later the RCMP were again notified by several residents of Upper Stewiack that on Friday, August 25, 1967, between 10:30 pm and midnight, unusual bright lights were observed low to the ground. The lights were on top of an object that could not be seen clearly. The lights "come from the top rather than the bottom of this object." Another witness said "there was a darkness below the lights." The lights ranged from blue-green to red and flashed or "pulsated" at times. Upon investigation, RCMP Constable G. J. R. Richard found other witnesses. Mrs. Cooper stopped her car when she saw the lights ahead of her, observed them for a few minutes in awe, then slowly drove in reverse back to her mother's house. Mrs. Cooper woke her mother, Mrs. Alvina Chisholm, and they both went outside to watch the celestial objects for more than an hour. The UFOs were silent, ascended occasionally in the air, and were between 100 and 1,000 feet above the ground. 7
Roy Putnam's encounter was exactly two months later, on October 25, 1967, near the Wentworth Valley, which is between Truro and Springhill, his train having just passed Debert.
An RCMP synopsis of UFO reports from late 1967 entitled "Air Borne Phenonmeno[n]" makes a tentative link between Putnam's sighting and "a scene in the woods" on Debert Mountain from the year before, investigated on November 13 and 19, 1966, by the RCMP and Father M.W. Burke-Gaffney, S.J., the Jesuit who had been Dean of Engineering and Dean of Science at Saint Mary's University in Halifax and who had been secretly investigating UFOs. Debert Mountain is about 25 km from the Wentworth Valley. There were "irregularities" at the location, mainly a straight gash in the earth 1.5 feet deep with a "continuous ridge of soil ejected from the trench," which was eight to ten feet long and ended in an apparent explosion that tore the roots of trees as well as causing damage to the trees eighty feet above ground. The RCMP note that the ditch "appeared as if an object of unknown shape or size had come from the sky and exploded as it was in the process of burying itself in the ground." No shrapnel of metal or rock was noted in the area, and Burke- Gaffney's tests for magnetic effects close to the explosion were negative. Burke- Gaffney ruled out the possibility of the explosion having been due to a meteor. "Meteors land at a minimum of 10 miles per second and bury themselves deep in the ground.... A meteor would not skid along the ground digging a trench."8 In his report to the RCMP, Burke-Gaffney speculated that the damage was caused by an explosion due to lightning. However, he noted that there were no indications of burning or scorching, which typically accompany lighting strikes.
What technology could have caused an energetic blast like the one on Debert Mountain described by the RCMP and by Burke-Gaffney? Under what circumstances would such a discharge take place? And what accounts for the density of activity in an area known for such recesses into the depths of the earth? We don't know what the astronomer priest really thought about these cases. In Chris's conversations with Burke-Gaffney's colleagues, friends, and family, they said he expressed skepticism. But in the October 18, 1967 issue of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald regarding the UFOs seen around Nova Scotia at that time, he said, "They did not come from outside the earth's atmosphere." Is he covering up, or is there some truth to his words? His statement does not necessarily mean the UFOs were not capable of space travel but may indicate that he thought they were based here on earth.
My impression from the case studies was that most of these objects were not just passing through, en-route somewhere, just flying over us. That they appear for thirty minutes, sometimes hours, up to days in an area and often return at intervals indicates to me that they are intelligently guided and involved in some kind of an organized activity. Regular routes suggest the same craft going and coming back rather than each sighting being of a new object. The high numbers of UFO sightings suggest a bottleneck, regular routes converging possibly from a common source.
Often the UFOs demonstrate a pattern of interaction-again a fundamental way of communicating-repeated patterns in movement, blinking, even playfully engaging witnesses. Many are very low to the ground.
Others look like stars and are seen from some distance. Some are low and then shoot up. Typical electromagnetic interference with television reception, tape players, radios, and car engines cutting out in the presence of UFOs is often reported. Craft sometimes commit massive accelerations and angles that defy gravity, even instantaneous jumps and blinking in and out. On the other hand some craft have a steady pace and seem to be travelling from one place to another. Besides the jumps or skips of massive velocity, generally one of the most regular features of witness descriptions is the craft demonstrating the ability to remain stationary and hover, often for significant periods.
It may not be obvious at first glance whether the RG 77 UFO cases from Nova Scotia are connected, yet I believe many demonstrate a connection. I was almost disappointed that there was no immediate answer to the puzzling questions I had about the "Night of the UFOs." While some of the cases were quite interesting, the reported observations were mostly fairly simple. No single explanation is going to account for all the reports. UFOs are a complex phenomenon and neither the craft nor the entities follow a simple or single pattern. But as I digested the cases there were distinct themes and similarities. RG 77's strongest threads are the similarities among cases and their common geography. The primary hotspots were the southwestern shore, the ocean off the south shore of Nova Scotia all the way up to Newfoundland, and the inner Bay of Fundy area. As I looked into the geography of these areas with the greatest degree of UFO sightings, I realized that they were also the places with the highest degree of magnetic and gravitic anomalies. These geological anomalies were mostly underwater but also on the mainland. The large, rambling, orange spheres did not receive much mention in the popular UFO literature of the day, but they show up frequently in these areas. Sightings of the spheres were just part of the local folklore and a relatively common occurrence along the south and southwest shores of Nova Scotia. Is there a connection between the illuminated orbs and the geological anomalies around Nova Scotia?
Indeed, the Canadian navy also devoted time to these enigmas. The navy would regularly chase high-speed unidentified submerged objects (USOs) off the coast of the province. During the 1960s some Canadian naval officers were even quietly saying that some UFOs were likely creatures descended from the upper atmosphere, perhaps from fifty miles up. Meanwhile, in 1966 the Canadian government started studying the magnetic and gravity anomalies off of the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
The SOSUS and MAD technology used at CFS Shelburne indicated that there was underwater USO traffic in the North Atlantic off the shores of Nova Scotia. Canadian, like Scandinavian, American, and British naval officers and sailors reported ongoing UFO/USO activity on and below the ocean surface off Nova Scotia and in regular areas around the world since at least the 1960s. So these craft were not just dropping in from outer space but were equally at home underwater.
The Russian Navy has recently declassified some of its records of UFO encounters and commented on the matter. Former Russian Naval officials stated in 2009 that fifty percent of UFO encounters happen from oceans, with fifteen percent connected to lakes. They also said that the craft are most often seen in the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean and wherever NATO fleets concentrate. (Russia Today 2009)
The Oz Factor
Since we are not really able to analyze the spheres or craft up close ourselves, we study the witnesses' claims concerning the craft and the effects of the UFOs on witnesses. What are the effects of these displays? In ufology there is a condition or reaction that is termed "the Oz factor." Often at the onset of an experience, the environment shifts, and the person feels strange and isolated. This isolation is experienced to varying degrees, from empty streets to alternate landscapes.
Jenny Randles, former lead investigator at the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA), described the Oz factor in 1983 as "the sensation of being isolated, or transported from the real world into a different environmental framework...where reality is but slightly different, as in the fairytale land of Oz.... The Oz factor certainly points to consciousness as the focal point of the UFO encounter" (Randles 1983). Time may seem to slow down, no one else is around, and subjects feel alone or isolated. Sensory isolation is a key indicator of the Oz factor. Carl Jung considered this state of mind to be "a very important precondition for the occurrence of spontaneous psychic phenomenon." Dr. John Mack noted the alteration of consciousness, experienced as a higher vibrational rate, to be a precursor of contact (see Mack 1994: 371; and 1996: 70-71).
Chris and I discussed personal and cultural versions of the Oz factor at work in the Nova Scotia cases. There are gaps of time within the close encounters that the witnesses couldn't fill in, which had a lingering effect on their peace of mind. Several Nova Scotian witnesses expressed high levels of confusion and disassociation during and after their encounters. They were excited that they knew they had experienced something but dismayed that they had so little context for it. There were strange experiences and persistent feelings after the encounter that they could not fully convey. Witnesses invariably found their UFO experience to be both emotionally devastating and surreal.
It is interesting to note how people typically react to close encounters, especially when there is no room in a belief system for such an experience. Our modern culture just does not provide the tools to deal with, understand, or even define anomalous phenomena that are denied by consensus reality. The experiencer's world tends to shrink and only accommodate thoughts of themselves and the UFO phenomenon. They are often unable to cope with family matters and work, and they are often filled with ambivalence toward the stuff of everyday life. Some witnesses cannot seem to get their heads around the notion of alien contact in spite of what their senses have told them.
How we see "them," the aliens or whatever intelligence is behind UFOs, is filtered by our Western cultural outlook. Culture precedes the experience, providing a powerful filter. Culture colours our world view, shapes what we think we see and how we define the terms and concepts of alien, UFO, and ET. Like the bewildered natives observing the first Spanish ships arriving on the shores of the new world, we can't really see the ships for what they are, the contact for what it is. There are varying degrees of resistance. There is cultural interference with the experience. We are steeped in the physical, material aspects of existence and lacking deeper context in which to understand anomalous phenomena, ET and UFO contact phenomena. How would the experience appear if we looked at it with no ideas, no preconceptions? And to confuse things further, the phenomena themselves are elusive and may mislead us. So we can't put it all together. We feel dissatisfied and adrift.
If we try to apply strict scientific reason, these phenomena laugh at our stuffy, limited methodologies and narrow pigeon holes. A formal education does not necessarily lend itself to understanding a phenomenon of this nature, especially if the education is limited to the traditional scientific method. Yet an open mind can be applied to any discipline, and science has basically not attempted to engage this topic yet. Atmospheric physicist James E. McDonald, an early investigator into the UFO phenomenon, said it best with his 1969 essay, "Science in Default: Twenty-two Years of Inadequate UFO Investigations" (McDonald 1969).
Serious consideration of UFOs and aliens has effectively been quarantined from mainstream culture, except as entertainment. This is part of the reason why any real debate or discussion is off the rails and how such a powerful concept is rendered impotent. The UFO phenomenon is somewhat complicit in keeping itself unknown as well. It shows itself at times, but that is usually the most it does. It teases and then disappears to leave the rest up to us. Certainly there are examples, like the Smith brothers encounter discussed in chapters 11 and 12, where the presence seems to actually set up the contact and allows itself to be observed and even attempts communication with us. On other occasions it seems to want to leave itself undefined, known only to exist, and then leave the interpretation up to us. It leaves the implications to stew in our collective minds.
Our collective consciousness could play a part in the Oz factor. Perhaps our consciousness is a subset of a larger consciousness. Contact may be an effect of bridging the waking conscious mind with the higher, psychic aspects of consciousness. It can be understood as a linking to and crossing over into or from the more subtle realms. Contact may serve to expand our perceptions and increase our ability to appreciate our full density of existence and our experience with finer levels of existence. Perhaps some people can't even see these types of reality. Some people may react with some sort of psychosomatic symptoms or illness. On the other hand the energetic emanations from the illuminated spheres or craft may also be causing such effects. The possibility exists that some psychological and even physical effects suffered by people who encounter UFOs may actually be the result of some energetic radiation. This is the premise of reality transformation and the Oz factor.
In several of the cases we examined, the Oz factor is part of a visceral reaction to the experience, and this is an indication of the reality of the phenomenon-how deeply it moves people. In this way the Oz factor supports the theory of ongoing presence in the area. This phenomenon certainly has a basis, or at least a foot, in our material world. And at the same time there is the greater psychic (not necessarily physically measurable), spiritual realm to consider as well. In a sense the UFO phenomenon forces us to broaden our understanding of reality beyond dualism, beyond what we think of as real or unreal. Real in what way? Not real in what way? There are camps of "believe" and "not believe," like some religious dogma. These narrow and arbitrary perspectives propagate this overly simplistic binary argument. The UFO phenomenon is not a matter of belief. As John Robert Colombo, Canada's "Master Gatherer" of stories says, "UFOs are a category of experience, not a category of belief" (Colombo 2004). And as Chris says, "Some don't have the luxury of belief." We know so little about what consciousness is, can we make determinations of belief and reality based on so little evidence? I certainly don't know for sure, and I don't pretend to know I'm completely right.
As Arthur C. Clarke says in 2010, the sequel to 2001: A Space Oyssey, the answers here are bigger than the questions. And there is a lack of answers all around. There can, however, be educated guesses as to valid theories.
Chapter 8 Endnotes
- National Archives Shag Harbour UFO Incident webpage: collectionscanada.gc.ca/ufo/002029-1500.01-e.html.
- R. Grandy Irwin report, August 16, 1968, RG 77.
- Account of tourist sighting in Yarmouth, NS, 1952, in RG 77. 5. Putnam RCMP UFO report, 1967, RG 77. 6. RCMP Air Borne Phenomenon file. Debert Mountain and Springhill cases, 1967-68. 7. RCMP file 67-400-43, 67T-400-83 Bible Hill, 1967. 8. RCMP report, Debert Mountain, 1967-68, Burke-Gaffney Collection, Saint Mary's University archives.