The Canadian UFO Scene
Stanton T. Friedman, Nuclear Physicist
Federicton, New Brunswick, Canada
Canada has had many reports of UFO sightings, several UFO groups, at least
two official government sponsored investigative bodies and has also managed
to cover up significant UFO information. The Access to Information law has
been used to obtain a good deal of data though much more about what government
has been doing has apparently been hidden or destroyed. Public interest in a
scientific approach appears to be strong. The National Research Council file
of a few thousand reports is ripe for detailed investigation by serious
researchers able to devote considerable time and effort to the pursuit of
more information since the NRC itself has done essentially no investigation
of "non-meteor" sightings.
It is not surprising that many aspects of ufology in Canada are quite similar
to this in other countries. There have been Canadian sightings, landings, physical
trace cases and radar observations. Canadians have been abducted. The Canadian
government has kept much information classified and misrepresented the facts
of its activities to the public. A number of courageous investigators have dug
into Canadian sightings and some cultist and amateur groups have flourished and died off.
As an American (my wife is a Canadian) living in Canada since 1980 and having
visited Canada since 1965, I am aware that many Americans think of Canada as being
just like the USA but further North. The language of the two countries are (leaving
out Quebec) generally the same. But there are some very important differences that
have a bearing on the UFO question:
1. Canada covers a larger land area than the USA (actually second only to the
USSR) but has a population only 1/10th that of the USA and most of that is in a
narrow band within 200 miles of the US border. Winters are long and harsh. The
number of people per square mile available to observe UFO's is thus greatly reduced
compared with Europe, Asia, the USA etc.
2. Canada has a much smaller military presence than does the USA and the rest of the NATO alliance.
3. Canada did not, until the past 5 years, have anything even close to a Freedom
of Information Act. Access to Information is new and does work ($5 per request) but
there are many exceptions. Because much of Canada's cultural and political heritage
is from the UK, NOT from the USA, there is much more of a Government-knows-best
attitude than in the USA.
4. Canadians, in general, have far more respect for authorities, especially for the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police than do Americans. The extensive but very incomplete
National Research Council UFO files have very little contamination with what might
be described as kook reports. RCMP investigators frequently were involved and people
here usually (if not involved in crime) do NOT lie to the RCMP, and don't think of
police as "pigs". Military people are respected and usually are careerists rather
than short termers.
5. Because of the great size of the country and the weather, it is comparatively
more difficult to have well organized investigative groups.
On a personal basis having lectured at dozens of campuses (some 3 times) and to many
other groups in 8 of the 10 Canadian provinces and appeared on many radio and TV programs,
I can say that there is a great deal of interest in a scientific approach to the UFO
problem coupled as would be expected with a general lack of awareness of the mountain
of work done by investigators and organizations such as MUFON. I have had many overflow
crowds at my lectures and many columns of favorable newspaper coverage. I have also had
my troubles with the major newspaper, the Toronto Globe and Mail, and with Phil Klass's
noisy negativist associate, Henry Gordon, who did three separate columns on me in the
Toronto Star, (Ref. 1) each one loaded with miserpresentation, as one might perhaps
expect from a magician member of the self annointed Committee for the Scientific
Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.
At least the Star published portions of two letters in response to the misinformation
in Gordon's columns and has carried a large overview article. The Globe and Mail actually
lied to the Ontario Press Council which did give me a hearing in my complaint about
false statements in a summary front page G&M article. The OPC found against me,
however, with 2 of their three counts being demonstrably false. It reminded me
of the strong anti-UFO attitude of the Los Angeles Times for many years, a sort of
"Don't bother us with the facts our mind is made up. If there were anything to UFOs,
we would know about it. We don't know any such thing, and anybody who says there is
something to UFOs is some kind of a nut".
There were sightings in Canada in 1947 as well as much earlier and have been ever
since. Of the 853 UFO sightings reported in Ted Bloecher's compilation of reports
"Report of the UFO wave of 1947" from June and July 1947, 18 were of Canadian origin
as observed by a total of 52 witnesses. Judging by other efforts to expand Bloecher's
compilation, there were many more cases reported in local newspapers but not collected
by Bloecher. There were at least 2 publicly acknowledged official investigative efforts:
Project Magnet and Project Second Story. A key figure in both was Department of
Transport Engineer, Wilbert B. Smith. I never met Smith prior to his untimely death
of a brain tumor in the early 1960s, but I have communicated with his wife and met
his son and talked to many people who knew him. Also, Arthur Bray has has been
kind enough to provide copies of a number of items from Smith's files. As with
the great majority of Canadian research activities, Smith's work was very much
on a shoestring budget. Since an excellent overview of the UFO situation in Canada
is presented in the book by Bondarchuk (Ref. 2) I will not duplicate the information he provides.
Smith was clearly a serious professional who was awarded Canada's highest broadcasting
engineering award, often visited the USA and knew Donald Keyhoe of NICAP and Frank Edwards
as well as having had through the Canadian Embassy an association with Vannevar Bush who
apparenlty was the key figure in the top secret US UFO effort after the Roswell Incident
(Ref. 4) in July, 1947. Bush also had headed the Office of Scientific Research and Development
during World War 2 as a kind of Science and Technology Czar having established the Manhattan
Project as well as a myriad of other joint military-industry-university technology projects
aimde at winning the war. He also organized and was the first head of the postwar Joint
Research and Development Board (JRDB) which later became the RDB, served on the War
Council, had headed prewar the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA which
later became the NASA) had very close ties to James Forrestal first head of the Department
of Defense and many meetings with presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower. His association
with MJ-12 member Donald Menzel goes back to 1934 and Bush was Menzel's staunchest defender
at Loyalty Hearings held in May 1950.
I have elsewhere (Ref. 5) quoted the starting statements from Smith's 3 page Top
Secret memo "Geomagnetics" discovered by Canadian Researcher Mr. X (legal name for
a most unusual researcher, sort of a Canadian Charles Fort) but will repeat the key
comments here (November 21, 1950):
"I made discreet enquiries through the Canadian Embassy staff in Washington who
were able to obtain for me the following information:"
"a) The matter is the most highly classified subject in the United States Government,
rating higher even than the H-bomb."
"b) Flying saucers exist."
"c) Their modus operandi is unknown but concentrated effort is being made by a small
group headed by Doctor Vannevar Bush."
"d) The entire matter is considered by the United States authorities to be of
Some sceptics have tried to pass Smith off as a kook because of his interest in
paranormal phenomena apparently not knowing that there is quite a file of supporting
material, especially classified correspondence with Arnauld Wright and Gordon Cox
and other Canadian Government employees. Also I managed to have released under Access
to Information the files of the Defense Research Board, roughly the equivalent (on a
much much smaller scale) of the US Research and Development Board which was the
evolutionary remnant of the Joint Research and Development Board. The DRB had
established a committee on UFOs which met on a number of occasions in classified
session, strangely at the same time the public was being told that nothing official
was being done and that Wilbert Smith's activities were just a hobby as part of
his membership in NICAP!
The 300 page DRB file is not for the most part of very great excitement including
newspaper articles and letters in response to public inquiries. It also however,
includes a 1.5 page summary of government UFO involvement, dated October 1958.
Here are some very provocative items from that history:
U.S. "Project Saucer" was completed about 1950 and it was found desireable to
solicit Canadian reports. As the 220th meeting of the JIC (Join Intelligence Committee)
on the 12, April 1950, UFOs were discussed and the following decisions were reached.
a) DSI (Directorate of Scientific Intelligence) and DAI (Directorate of Air Intelligence)
were to collaborate in preparing a questionaire to be distributed to field intelligence
officers of the three services and the RCMP.
b) DAI is to coordinate the investigation arrangements in the field.
c) All field reports were to be passed to DSI for official examination on behalf
of DND (Department of National Defence).
Action by DRB/DSI
A tabular record of reports of sightings dating back to 1954... is kept in this
office and is classified SECRET. The last entry is a sighting of 8th June 1956.
A file is also kept here which contains a multitude of press articles, sightings,
etc. DRB file 3800-10-1-1 (3 vols.) contains a large number of sighting reports
dating back to 1947. The last report in the DAI files was dated July 1958. DAI did
not appear to be aware of the earlier policy as explained in paragraphs 2 and 3 above.
I naturally filed an Access to Information request for the specific items noted.
The response, which was prompt, was also very disappointing since it stated that
copies of all these items had all been destroyed. From my own background of 14 years
work with classified documents I simply do NOT believe that these were the only
copies but have no way of establishing where the others are, though I am still working on it.
I located some of the indiciduals listed as attending the meeting. A couple of
people responded that so far as they were concerned the information was still
covered by the Official Secrets act and refused to say any more. I did manage to
locate and meet with Dr. Omand Solandt who was the first Chairman of the DRB and
sort of the Vannevar Bush of Canada... though much younger. He recalled Wilbert Smith,
but denied knowing that there was really a huge US coverup. He serves still on many
committees and keeps very busy in retirement. He was not interested in getting back
into the UFO controversy.
The National Research Council has had an important and unusual involvment in UFOs
since the mid 1960s after Smith's death. On the one hand it has been the official
collection agency for the public reports and had received thousands from the military,
the police, and the general public. However, it unlike the US Project Blue Book, has
had very low public profile and does practically no investigations on its own. Each
report is given a number and filed chronologically on file cards maintained in a small
office. One can view the files, usually by appointment, but cannot make copies though
notes can be taken. Since about 5 years ago thanks ot the efforts of Mr. X and some
effort on my part the early files were transferred to the Public Archives and put
on microfilm. Each year the 100-200 cases received the previous year are added to
the Archives collection where they can be viewed and hard copies made. These are
crying out for investigation. Essentially the only effort made by the NRC is to
subdivide into "meteor" and "non-meteor" categories. The NRC is interested in the
meteor reports and follows up on them in the interest of science. They do nothing
about the non-meteors which are, of course, of far more interest to ufologists.
There is no cross filing by geography, type of report, whether radar is involved
or a landing occured etc. Two NRC people, Dr. Peter Millman an astronomer and
Dr. MacNamara have made public anti-UFO statements. There are no classified sightings
in the NRC files though it is clear that the Canadian side of the North American Air
Defence Command does make radar observations and does report to HQ NORAD per the
terms of JANAP-146 and its successor regualtions. There are still in place regulations
for military and civilian pilots to make reports of unknown aerial objects, unknown
missiles, unknown aircraft, etc.
My first contact with Canadian ufology was way back in 1968 when William K. Allan
a teacher of physics in Calgary had the courage to bring me in to speak at the Jubilee
Auditorium. Bill kept me busy with the media and we had a crowd of 1200 paying attendees.
The profit went to help Bill's group "UFO Anonymous" put out an excellent LP record which
included both sounds of UFOs and interviews with witnesses including commercial
pilots. Bill is retired and living in Kelowna, BC. and has done a great deal
through the media to make the study of UFOs respectable.
John Musgrave had the courage to apply for and accept a grant from the Canada
Council to study UFO abductions and toured all over North America in his quest.
I was very disappointed in his final report (Ref. 6) and never could understand
why it was so negative and in places inaccurate until April, 1987 when John was
involved in the CBC TV "Man Alive" program "The ET Connection". The program which
set new standards for careful advance research thanks to Director-Producer David
Cherniak, focused on abductions. It turns out John may himself have had an abduction
experience when young and seems to be fighting dealing with it at all trying to
pass it and other abduction experiences off as dreams. Apparently if he admits
that other actual abductions have occured, he would have to face up to his own
which apparently is too difficult.. sort of a classic case of denial. John heads
a small group in Edmonton, Alberta.
Arthur Bray of Ottawa, has published two books on UFOs, is an ex Navy Officer
and has managed to obtain a portion of the files of Wilbert Smith. Because of
his input at the Toronto MUFON Conference in 1982, I was put on to Dr. Robert
Sarbacher whom I was able to locate in Florida and to visit. Sarbacher was a
quite remarkable scientist who served on a number of wartime and post war research
committees and was the source of some of Smith's comments about UFOs as quoted
above according to Smith's handwritten notes after the meeting. Sarbacher was a
boy genius according to a Saturday Evening Post article and made major contributions
to the technical side of winning World War 2... I don't know why Arthur hadn't
looked for him. His yacht in Palm Beach, Florida, was quite impressive and he
was in the phone book as well as in various professional directories.
Still active in Canada are people such a Chris Rutkowski of Winnipeg, Manitoba,
and employed by the University of Manitoba. Chris publishes "The Swamp Gas Journal"
and has compiled an extensive computerized file of hundreds of Manitoba UFO sightings.
He has been involved in various research projects concerned with observations from
satellites. Gener Duplantier of Toronto has been a long time distributor of UFO
publications. Henry Magor of British Columbia published a Canadian UFO report for
several years and has written at least one book. David Haisell of the Toronto area
has also written a book and was an active investigator for several years. There
are still active UFO groups in Toronto and Waterloo and Stratford all in Ontario.
Dr. Don Donderi is a Professor of Psychology at prestigious McGill University in
Montreal and was very active in UFO Quebec as well as courageous enough to introduce
me at 2 of my overflow McGill lectures.
1. Friedman, Stanton T. "Flying Saucers, Noisy Negativists, and Truth" Paper presented at 1975 MUFON Symposium, St. Louis, Missouri, 15 Pages. $2.00 post paid from UFORI, POB 3534, Frederiction, NB Canada E3B 5JB
2. Bondarchuk, Yurko "UFO Canada" Segnet Book, New American Library of Canada Limited, Scarborough, Ontario, Paperback, May 1982 2.95, forward by Stanton Friedman, 198 pages.
3. Moore W.L. and Berlitz, C "The Roswell Incident" 1982 Grosset and Dunlap, New York, 168 pages.
4. Moore W.L. "Crashed Saucers: Evidence in Search of Proof" Paper presented at 1985 MUFON Conference, St. Louis, Missouri, 49 pages, $5.00 from UFORI
5. Friedman, Stanton T. "Cosmic Watergate" 1981, 18 pages $2.00 from UFORI