A UFO observatory at Shirleys Bay?

For centuries, humans have wondered if we were alone in the universe.  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
Adam Thomlison
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 written shortly 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, which turned out to be Project Magnet's death knell. As soon as the media was notified, the government
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 release says.

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


Links   -   Liens