A UFO observatory at Shirleys Bay?
For centuries, humans have wondered if we were alone in the
Is it true that - right here on Shirleys Bay Campus - an electrical engineer
fascinated by "new" science and UFOs decided to search for proof? Many sources
back this up. Here's what we know:
Wilbert B. Smith
Pioneer of Canadian UFO research
Wilbert Brouckhouse Smith was a radio engineer who worked for the
Broadcast and Measurements Section of the Department of Transport (DoT). His
field of study was radio wave propagation, which ultimately led to his
research in geo-magnetism and eventually Unidentified Flying Objects.
Smith was researching the collapse of the Earth's magnetic field as a source
of energy. He thought his work on geo-magnetism may be connected to UFOs, so
he arranged to speak with Robert I. Sarbacher - a U.S. representative at the
Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC, on September 15, 1950.
This conversation confirmed his suspicions that Americans knew "flying
saucers" existed but Sarbacher refused to elaborate. This information was the
most classified subject in the U.S. at that time, even rated two points higher
than the H-bomb.
Lab at Shirleys Bay
Smith returned to Ottawa and met with Dr. Omond Solandt, Chairman of
Defence Research Board, to discuss future investigations into geo-magnetism
energy release. Two months later, permission was granted for Smith to use
DoT's laboratory to study UFOs and the physical principles that might be
involved. This was known as Project Magnet.
In 1953, Smith was provided with staff and a small laboratory built on
Shirleys Bay Campus, a "flying saucer sighting station," as it was known, in
which was found instruments such as a magnetometer, a gamma ray counter, a
radio receiver and a recording gravimeter.
Just one year later, on August 8, 1954, Smith and his small group reported to
the media that they detected a large magnetic disturbance believed to be from
an extra-terrestrial spacecraft flown over Shirleys Bay. Fearing bad publicity
from the already extensive press coverage, the Federal Government cancelled
his funding and officially closed his laboratory, though Smith continued his
research in his spare time.
Smith continued this research on his own until his death from cancer in 1962
at the age of 52. What he really wanted to know was how these craft were
built, where they got their energy and how they were able to do things that
our spacecraft were unable to do.
That laboratory is now known as CRC's building 67 - located on the side of
Carling Avenue and property of CRC's Terrestrial Wireless System Directorate.
CRC researcher Peter Bouliane has been working in that laboratory on and off
since 1973. His work is not connected to UFOs and he wasn't aware of the
research previously performed in building 67.
As for the equipment that Wilbert Smith used for his research, it was probably
disposed of with the rest of the equipment in the building when it became
property of the Department of Communications in 1971.
Though we can only speculate about Smith's discoveries, UFO research is an
intriguing chapter in the history of Shirleys Bay Campus.
Orest Dykyj, Media Relations, CRC.
Shirley's Bay a magnet for UFO activity
Nepean This Week staff
The Project Magnet laboratory at Shirley's Bay, Canada's first and only
UFO-tracking facility, was shut down after reporting that it found just what
it was looking for - what might have been a flying saucer.
The government campus at Shirley's Bay was once home to Project Magnet,
Canada's groundbreaking UFO-tracking program. The project was founded and run
by Wilbert Brockhouse
Smith, an internationally respected telecommunications expert and employee of
the Department of Transport. DoT handled telecommunications research for
Canada at the time.
The story has it Smith read an article on flying saucers in the late 1940s and
become interested in
UFOs. It was an interest that would last him his entire short life. Before
taking on Project Magnet, Smith was studying the Earth's magnetic field for
DoT and believed his work may be connected to UFOs. Apparently he believed
flying saucers existed and operated using magnetic force.
So on Sept. 15, 1950 he met with Robert I. Sarbacker, a U.S. official at the
Canadian Embassy in Washington. In Smith's own words, taken from a memo
after the meeting, he said Sarbacker confirmed that "Flying saucers exist,"
and "the matter is the most highly classified subject in the United States
government, rating even higher than the H-bomb."
Following the meeting, Smith met with Dr. Omond Solandt, chairman of the
defence research board. Two months later Soldandt granted permission for Smith
to use the lab at Shirley's Bay for Project Magnet. Smith clearly had theories
on what it was he expected to find. In a 1953 story by French news agency
Agence France-Presse about the opening of the laboratory, Smith said "There is
a good chance that the flying saucers are real objects. The odds are sixty to
a hundred that they are extra-terrestrial vehicles." In 1953, the laboratory
opened for business, equipped
with magnetic, radio and gamma-ray recording equipment. It also came equipped
with a team of four scientists: Smith, J.T. Wilson of the University of
Toronto, DRB physicist Dr. James Wait and Dr. G.D. Garland, a gravitation
expert. The instruments they used recorded their information using a
pen-stylus system similar to the one used to measure earthquakes. On Aug. 8,
1954, at 3:01 p.m., one year after opening, these instruments detected a large
magnetic disturbance. So large, in fact, that the story has it the scientists
ran outside to look at it. But it was an overcast afternoon and nothing could
be seen. They knew it was a UFO of some kind, and Smith allegedly said it
might have been a flying saucer.
The group immediately notified the media,
out to be Project Magnet's death knell. As soon as the media was notified, the
pulled the plug on Project Magnet. There is debate as to why, but no one
(including the Canadian government itself) denies it. A UFOlogist writing for
WinterSteel Publications - a
Web site that concerns itself with all things paranormal - said the government
wanted to cover the
whole thing up and deny the project ever existed. "The government immediately
started to back-pedal and smother the whole subject in secrecy," the author,
calling himself Merlyn, wrote.
An official release by the Communications Research Centre, the government
agency that inherited the building that housed Smith's laboratory, also admits
the government shut down Project Magnet as a result of the media exposure.
"Fearing bad publicity form the already extensive press coverage, the federal
government cancelled his funding and officially closed his laboratory," the
Smith continued his research after being shut down. Merlyn claims he was
pressured into recanting his report that his laboratory had found something on
Aug. 8, and on May 17, 1955, nine months later, he did. According to Merlyn's
story, he told a House of Commons special committee on broadcasting that "on
the basis of our measurements, which were nil, we come to the conclusion that
we had very little data to go on." But Smith could never be silenced entirely.
In a 1962
interview with Weekend Magazine, he said "From the weight of the evidence, I
think they come from outer space, but I can't prove it." Smith died of cancer
shortly after that interview at
the age of 52.
Smith has become something of an icon among UFOlogists. Some say he was a
member of Majestic 12, the top-secret organization in charge of shrouding all
alien findings in secrecy, including the Roswell crash. His work is lauded by
many as groundbreaking. The Web site presidentialufo.com calls him "Canada's
UFO pioneer." Smith's old laboratory still stands at Shirley's Bay, one of
many CRC research labs on the campus. It's now simply called building 67.
Adam Thomlison, writer, Ottawa