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Canada  

Canada's most famous UFO

The first frantic callers to reach the RCMP were clear: something had crashed off Shag Harbour, N.S.

It was around 11 p.m. on the night of Oct. 4, 1967. Most witnesses thought it was a doomed aircraft.

Among those who saw the string of flashing lights on that clear, moonless night were three RCMP officers, scores of fishermen and airline pilots flying along the province's rugged southwest coast.

But a series of searches turned up nothing. No wreckage. No bodies. No clues as to what really happened that night 50 years ago.

A Halifax-area man later uncovered a trove of government and police records that would make the Shag Harbour incident Canada's best-documented and most intriguing UFO sighting.

In a series of RCMP reports and correspondence sent by telex between military officials in Ottawa and Halifax, there are specific references to unidentified flying objects, and no attempts were made to explain away what people were reporting.

Chris Styles, the UFO researcher who dug up those documents, remains baffled by the case.

"To this day, I don't know the absolute answer, but we're still finding things," says Styles, the author of two books about the Shag Harbour incident.

Next week, on the eve of the 50th anniversary, Styles will be the keynote speaker at the start of the three-day Shag Harbour UFO Festival. After 20-plus years of dogged research, he says he has new evidence to share.

The most compelling evidence comes from eyewitnesses like Laurie Wickens, now a 67-year-old former fisherman.

"There was four (lights) in a row, and they were going on and off," says Wickens, at the time a 17-year-old driving home to Shag Harbour with a friend and three young women. "One would come on, then two, three and four — and they'd all be off for a second and come back on again."

Sure he was about to witness an airline disaster, Wickens found a phone booth and called the local RCMP detachment. Questions were asked about his sobriety. But he wasn't drunk, and he was sure about what he saw.

Several other people called the Mounties that night. They all told same story.

Soon afterwards, Wickens was among a dozen or so people gathered at the water's edge, watching in amazement as a glowing, orange sphere — about the size of a city bus — bobbed on the waves about 300 metres from shore. At 11:20 p.m., it slipped beneath the surface without a sound.

Three of those at the wharf were Mounties. One of them called the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax. A coast guard cutter was immediately dispatched to conduct a search.

Before the ship arrived, volunteer searchers aboard two fishing boats soon spotted a long trail of bubbling, yellow foam on the calm waters — but no wreckage.

A squad of Royal Canadian Navy divers later failed to turn up any clues after a three-day scan of the harbour floor, according to official military records.

To this day, Wickens has no idea what he saw.

"All I know is that we saw something, and something came down," he says, adding that he believes the divers pulled something from the water. "I can't prove it, but in my opinion they found something."



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