The most important Canadian UFO incident on record, The Shag Harbour Incident occurred late on the night of October 4 1967. Shag Harbour is a small fishing village in Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada, named after the 'Shag' cormorant. This stretch of the coastline is not without its folklore and mysteries regarding pirates, giant sea serpents and ghost ships but far from being merely folklore, the UFO incident had many eyewitnesses and much media coverage.
The earliest UFO report on October 4 in the area was by the pilot of am Air Canada DC-9 plane who saw a large rectangular object, then a string of lights and a flurry of explosions over south-eastern Quebec at 7.20pm.
A number of people reported seeing a UFO in the air that night but many lost sight of it as it headed down towards the body of water known as 'The Sound', which was adjacent to Shag Harbour. A notable individual who saw the UFO in the sky was Laurie Wickens, he was driving down Highway 3 through the village with four of his friends. Just after 11pm local time one of his passengers pointed out an object in the sky with four flashing yellow lights at an angle of 45 degrees, moving down towards the Sound.
The group lost sight of the craft but heard the object as it went into the water. They made for the shore so they could see what had happened. After leaving the car in the parking lot of an Irish Moss Plant, they stood on the shore and observed the object, now showing a single, constant, dim yellow light, floating in the water about a mile out.
Wickens decided to drive further along the coast to Wood's Harbour where he knew he could find a payphone to notify the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that he had seen a plane crash into the water. Corporal Werbicki answered Wickens' call and asked if the young man was sober when he saw the incident. Still, the call was taken seriously but before the Corporal could notify any units in the area he was contacted from Maggie Garon's Point by Mary Banks, corroborating Wickens' story.
Werbicki now contacted Constables Ron O'Brien and Ron Pond with the intention of the three going to the Moss Plant where Wickens had pulled up. Werbicki then received reports that three more people had seen the UFO, a man in Bear point and two women on Cape Sable Island, the man reporting a noise as the craft came down.
Werbicki contacted Wickens at the payphone instructing him to head back to the Moss Plant to meet him and his constables.
At around 11pm that night, teenagers Norman Smith and David Kendrick had also been driving along Highway 13, on their way back from a date on Cape Sable Island with their girlfriends also reported seeing a craft with four or five yellow lights, flashing sequentially at an angle of 45 degrees. They assumed it to be a commercial passenger plane and lost sight of it behind the tree line as it was moving in the direction of Shag Harbour.
After being dropped off at his house, Smith noticed the lights again and raised his father, Wilfred. After witnessing the craft drop down below a small hill and assuming an airliner had just crashed into the harbour, the two Smiths made their way to the shore to assist in any way they could.
Wickens was joined at the water's edge, near the Moss Plant, by two RCMP cruisers carrying Werbicki and his two constables and then by the two Smiths in their truck. The object was so dimly lit and far out that Wickens had to point out where it was but the other men were able to see it and between Werbicki and Norman Smith, estimations of 60 feet wide and 10 feet high, compared to a nearby buoy were made.
Werbicki gave orders to his men, he told Constable Pond to remain on the shore and take statements from any witnesses and Constable O'Brien to call the Rescue Coordination Center in Halifax from a local house to ask for their assistance and advice on a possible downed plane. Werbicki himself was about to set off to find two fishermen to take him out to the crash site when the people on the shore noticed that craft was sinking down into the Sound.
The two fishermen whose boats were to be used in the operation were Bradford Shand and Lawrence Smith, Wilfred Smith's brother. Norman Smith and Werbicki went out on Shand's boat while Wilfred went with his brother.
The Smith boat headed the two towards the buoy, named the Budget Light, which had been used for estimations. As they neared the crash site they were greeted by a half-mile long, 80-foot wide layer of thick yellow foam bubbles from below the surface and a smell of sulphur.
Expecting to find survivors or bodies both boats were used to search the area but after nearly an hour they had turned up nothing. The coast guard boat arrived from Cape Sable Island, captained by Ronnie Newell who informed Werbicki that he had received a response from the Rescue Coordination Center that all planes, private, military and commercial were accounted for and safe from northeast Canada down to New England.
There were now six boats searching the crash site but they were no longer searching for a downed airplane but a downed UFO, this caused understandable concern. The fruitless search was called off for the night at 3am and the official search was ended on October 9 when the Canadian Forces Maritime Commander reported that "not a trace, not a clue, not a bit of anything" had been located in the water. Diving teams scouring the bottom of the Sound found no evidence of a craft having hit the bottom.
The RCMP, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Rescue Coordination Center and the normally conservative Halifax Chronicle-Herald newspaper named the craft as a UFO or a dark object in reports about regarding the events of October 4 1967 at Shag Harbour.
MUFON investigator Chris Styles who, at the age of 12 witnessed the event from his bedroom window in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and then from the shoreline in Shag Harbour started looking into the incident in 1993. He, along with fellow MUFON investigator Doug Ledger claims to have uncovered a remarkable story.
Styles, having interviewed divers, military personnel, officials involved in the incident and local residents pieced together the following train of events. The UFO, having hit the water, submerged and moved 25 miles to Government Point near the site of CFB Shelburne, a submarine detection facility where it was noticed. A group of naval vessels were despatched and told to simply wait above the submerged UFO, which could now be classed as a USO or Unidentified Submersible Object. As a salvage operation was being planned, the UFO was joined by another craft of unknown origin just before some of the naval ships were summoned away to investigate a Russian submarine in the area. The unknown craft soon moved off towards the Gulf of Maine but outpaced the remaining naval vessels trying to follow.
On October 11 1967, many people along the Canadian coastline from Shag Harbour to Yarmouth reported seeing two UFOs, which may have been the two craft being followed by the navy.
Styles' story unfortunately has very little evidence or official backing due to it being made up of many 'off the record' conversations and anonymous sources. He also claims that the fishermen found silvery debris at the crash site in his report.
Shag Harbour continues to be a very popular UFO tourist destination after Styles released his book, Dark Object and the Shag Harbour post office released a commemorative stamp depicting a flying saucer hovering over a lighthouse and boat. TV crews from across North America and UFO enthusiasts have visited the small village but an official explanation has never been given, probably due to the involvement of CFB Shelburne and a Russian submarine at the height of the Cold War.