Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Canadian UFO wave 1966-67 (part 4)

This post presents the two mini waves that occurred in 1967, one around Hamilton, Ontario, and the second around Sudbury, also in Ontario. Like in the previous post, they have been noted by different observation systems, namely the private one for Hamilton and the public one for Sudbury. What they have in common, however, is that they provide a few more symbolic clues because they were somewhat more ostentatious from a phenomenological standpoint. There are still very few clues to work with because they were not investigated from a “broader” perspective (i.e., including investigating about witnesses’ life story especially relating to the paranormal, what was going on in the community but not openly discussed, other non-UFO paranormal events occurring around the same time, etc.). The “narrow” perspective (i.e., limiting the investigation essentially on the superficial appearance of the phenomenon, and limiting the interactions with the witnesses to establishing whether they were saying the truth) was the norm for both the private and public observation systems.

The phenomenon becoming somewhat clearer?

The private observation system

The Hamilton/Caledonia area in Ontario experienced a mini wave of its own in January and February 1967, with a short but intense second outburst in June 1967 (including a prominent CE3 experience, and one of the rare Canadian “Men-in-Black” reports).

The winter sightings revealed close to nothing, except that the phenomenon seemed to insist. The observations can be summed up as follow: night lights or day discs were observed over a two-week period on 29 January, 2, 6, 10, 11 and 15 February. The phenomenon has shown some more intensity on 3 February. Although it was a night light, it moved in a zigzag way, with very high rates of speed, and had a white and orange color. From a phenomenological standpoint, this shows similarities with the movement of objects observed in RSPKs, as discussed in previous posts, and has the appearance of earthlights.

The phenomenon, however, became closer to confirmation at the end of the first phase of this mini wave, which is consistent with what the MPI predicts. On 14 February, a “disc with red blinking lights forces car off road, returns to hover, then land on snow nearby. Landing marks later found in snow. An object was observed. It buzzed a witness. One object was observed in snowy weather by a male witness on a road for a few minutes”[1]. Traces in the white snow can be reminiscent of many things, but given the second set of sightings it may mean “getting dirty”.

Then, the phenomenon had a short but intense outburst four months later on 15 June 1967. A close encounter of the third kind occurred near a factory by the Dofasco employee Carmen Cuneo. He described seeing three objects near the ground for about 20 minutes, two in a disc shaped, and the other in a cigar shape. The latter was described as being as big as a transport plane. He then saw three occupants, no more than 4 feet tall in uniform and wearing helmets with four lights at each corner of the front part. They were looking around the ground.[2] When it comes to confirmation, however, the story becomes blurry. Some source states that Cuneo ran to get other people to look at what he saw, and upon arriving they only saw the objects moving away in the sky, but no one could confirm seeing the occupants.[3]. Another source states that there was nothing left when the others arrived.[4]

In any event, the objects left marks on the ground, and most importantly an oily substance. The substance was brought for analysis and was found to be ordinary lubricating oil.[5] Like in all CE2 events, and as noted by Jacques Vallée on many occasions, the physical traces appear to be absurd. But it might be in fact the only valuable clue in this story.

Then, Cuneo was apparently threatened by Men-in-Black, and told to not discuss further his sighting. It is to be noted that Men-in-Black were reported several times during the second half of the 1960s in the United States. But that part of the story is quite murky. The UFO DNA site states that he was physically visited on 20 June 1967, quoting the CUFOS database.[6] A MUFON bulletin of 1978 reports that Cuneo received a phone call from what was interpreted as Men-in-Black, on another day.[7] Some websites situate the event in 1976, leading one to wonder if it was a numeral inversion from 1967 to 1976 that was then reproduced by several other sites. In all cases, however, the threats were just that. They did not materialized into anything, as noted for almost all Men-in-Black events. As Rojcewicz observed about Men-in-Black experience, they share the same narrative structure as meeting the Devil, where one is diverted from the truth in subtle ways. [8] In the case of the Men-in-Black, the threat that never materialized has usually for effect to reinforce the witnesses’ belief that an “alien in spaceship” event occurred, which pushes them to report even more the event as an ET encounter. This is congruent with the parapsychologist Jule Eisnbold’s observation that the unconscious creates also “defense mechanism” to protect its psi abilities.[9] This in turn can be translated in Generalized Quantum Theory as maintaining or protecting the indeterminacy in the system by ensuring the ongoing displacement towards an imaginary agent, thus preventing effective confirmation.

This mini wave has indeed left very few clues, preventing confirmation, but at least one symbolic trace is worth serious consideration: the oily substance. From a symbolic standpoint this is “pollution”. The Hamilton area in the 1960s was indeed very polluted, especially the air. For instance, at the end of the two-month labour strike at the main steel mill in 1969, air pollution level was just started to be close to normal healthy levels.[10] This pollution issue was in fact so problematic, that the main industry in the area opened a research centre dedicated to find less polluting ways of producing steel, while still expanding its production (and therefore pollution levels).[11] Some of the key pollution from the production of steel is indeed oil coming from the coke burning.[12] The opening date of the research centre was 8 June 1967, with many dignitaries present[13]; one week before the Cuneo’s close encounter.

Another important issue is the area. Although a stronghold of the labour union movement (still to this day) it was also witnessing the very early stage of its de-industrialization. During the 1950s, most of the textile mills closed. Then, in 1964 a major cigarette factory moved to a different region and a scale factory closed. In 1966, the Studebaker car factory plant closed as well. And soon in the 1970s, a string of industrial closures occurred in the region. In fact, only the steel industry was still strong at the time.[14] In many ways, the industrial and economic prosperity of the region was also in the hand of a very polluting industry; something that people might have been aware unconsciously, but not willing to talk about overtly. This difficult situation can provide parasociological tensions enabling psi effects to occur. The limited clues available seem to point in that direction.

The public observation system

The Sudbury area experienced also a mini wave between September and November 1967, with an interesting sighting on 4 October, the day of the Shag Harbour incident, and another one on 11 October, also the date of a second set sightings near Shag Harbour.[15] It is important to note that only the public observation system seemed to be aware of this mini wave.[16]

Most of the sightings are not spectacular in themselves, but combined together they create an interesting picture. There was a series of night light and day disc sightings around the Sudbury area, namely on 29 August – observed by a Laurentian University professor; 1 September – reported by amateur astronomers; and on the 9, 22 and 28 September 1967 with very few details recorded by the public observation system.

The 4 October sighting is interesting because it was quite ostentatious even if the public system did not produced a significant report on it. The object was described as very bright with red and green lights on of each side, with a pulsating white light in the middle. One would think that this looks like a plane, but it had no tail, and was evaluated as being 200 feet long. The observation lasted 2 hours (a very long time), and the object moved back and forth over the city. It was quite low above the ground. By then, it was the most ostentatious sighting in the area.

The following sighting, on 11 October, was observed by several independent witnesses. The Sudbury police received numerous reports, and at one point their radio system went down. One witness heard a loud noise from the sky, but did not see anything. There was also one sighting by the private observation system in October, but the date is unclear. It was reported that there was significant radio interferences associated with the sighting of an object almost landed in a field, and producing a whining sound.[17] This description shares many similarities with the events of 11 October recorded by the public system.

It is interesting to note that on 14 November the Canadian Forces HQ asked to get all the reports from the Sudbury police about these sightings. The public observation system was looking much more closely. As predicted by the MPI, this is also when a phenomenon starts to decline. There were four more sightings of night lights in 1967 around Sudbury after that, but they were not as ostentatious as the October sightings.

Hence, October was the time when the phenomenon really “insisted” to be noted by the public observation system. Like everywhere else, Sudbury was going through major transformations during the 1960s.[18] But the date concordance with two quite ostentatious events in Shag Harbour in Nova Scotia points towards a wider set of parasociological parameters that may extend beyond the local community.

One event that will have very significant impact on Canadian national identity in the years to come was the departure of René Lévesque from the Liberal Party of Quebec on 14 October 1967, three days after the last key sigthing. He will create the Movement Souverainté-Association in November 1967, and then merge his organization with another one to create the Parti Quebecois in 1968, dedicated to make Quebec an independent country from Canada. In 1976, he will win the provincial election in Quebec and form the provincial government. In 1980, he will organize a referendum in Quebec to secede from Canada. He will be defeated, but in 1995 his successors will almost succeeded with 49.9% “yes” in favour of secession.

As well, the 1960s were quite significant for Canada in terms of collective identity. The country was finally coming of age symbolically, away from the British empire, by getting its own flag in replacement of the colonial one; its own National Anthem in replacement of the British “God Save the Queen”; the federal government became officially bilingual French-English; and it was also the Universal Exhibition of 1967 (Expo 67) in Montreal, a major showcase for Canada at the time. The well-known journalist Pierre Berton wrote a book in the 1990s, looking retrospectively, and considered that 1967 was that last good year of Canada. The reaching “adulthood party” was over for Canada after that. According to Berton, "in that sense, 1967 was the last good year before all Canadians began to be concerned about the future of our country." [19] From a parasociological standpoint, it is possible that unconscious worries were occurring during the collective euphoria.

Furthermore, as noted by Berton, “The most significant event of 1967 was Charles de Gaulle's notorious "Vive le Quebec libre!" speech in Montreal [in July]. It gave the burgeoning separatist movement a new legitimacy, enhanced by Rene Levesque's departure from the Liberal party later that year.”[20] Going back to Sudbury, which is also a bilingual English-French community, it would have been seriously affected by a potential secession of Quebec from Canada. Quebec is the heart of French-speaking Canada, and the French-speaking communities outside Quebec would have been in a much weaker position. The lost of the radio signals, combined with lots of noise, can be symbolic of a community isolated from the rest of French-speaking Canada and submerged in lots of English “noise”. The harmonious and more equalitarian relationships between the English and French communities of Canada were a major (if not the main) preoccupation of the federal government in the 1960s. That same government was also running the public observation system. There is a potential parasociological link.

But could the synchronistic events of 4 and 11 October, also noted by the public observation system in Nova Scotia, be linked to a possible national unconscious worry about the future of the country, and the core national dynamics between the English and French-speaking Canadians? As it will be discussed in the next post, the Shag Harbour sightings were preceded by sightings over Quebec, as if it originated symbolically from there.


These two mini waves offer some more material to work with, but the parasociological analysis still remains quite tentative. A greater amount of empirical material using the “broader approach” would allow building a much more robust set of cases studies with greater internal validity (i.e., many elements supporting each other in the explanation). However, some clear methodological considerations emerge at this point. Beyond using the “broader approach” to investigate cases, a rash of sightings (which may include a number of honest misperceptions and hoaxes linked by synchronicity to the rest of the rash of sightings) should be prioritized over “one-shot” sightings, as it is more likely to be the expression of a community. Similarly, close encounters of the second and third kind can yield a wealth of information if the investigator looks for all the symbolic clues.


[1] From UFO DNA website, at http://www.ufodna.com/uf13/uf7/137861.htm

[2] From http://magonia.haaan.com/2009/property/

[3] Idem.

[4] See http://www.projectcamelot.org/Alien_Digest_Vol_4.pdf

[5] See http://ufo-joe.tripod.com/books/gateway116caldonia.html

[6] See http://www.ufodna.com/uf10/uf3/103395.htm

[7] From http://magonia.haaan.com/2009/property/

[8] Rojcewicz, Peter M. (1987). “The ‘Men in Black’ experience and tradition: Analogues with the traditional devil hypothesis”. Journal of American Folklore 100(396): 148-160.

[9] Eisenbud, Jule. (1983). Parapsychology and the Unconscious. Berkeley: North Atlantic Book.

[10] Rouse, Wayne R. and John G. McCutcheon. (1970). “The effect of the regional wind on air pollution in Hamilton, Ontario”. Canadian Geographer 14(4): 271-285.

[11] From http://epe.lac-bac.gc.ca/100/205/301/ic/cdc/industrial/stelcomain.htm

[12] See http://www.istc.illinois.edu/info/library_docs/manuals/primmetals/chapter2.htm

[13] See http://stelcoresearch.blogspot.com/2008/09/opening-of-stelco-research-centre.html

[14] See http://epe.lac-bac.gc.ca/100/205/301/ic/cdc/industrial/history.htm, and http://epe.lac-bac.gc.ca/100/205/301/ic/cdc/industrial/timeline1979.htm

[15] See http://www.ufoevidence.org/Cases/CaseSubarticle.asp?ID=179

[16] All public data are from Canada’s National Archives at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/ufo/index-e.html?PHPSESSID=i7oot3o84vvh2162bk2qurt4o5

[17] From UFO DNA at http://www.ufodna.com/uf10/uf1/101169.htm

[18] http://www.thesudburystar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=1270773

[19] See http://www.randomhouse.ca/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780770427764&view=print

[20] Idem.

Eric Ouellet © 2010

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