"Dropp'd from the zenith, like a falling star."
(Paradise Lost,bk. I, l. 742 - John Milton)
4 October 1967
Shag Harbour is a small fishing village near the southern tip of Nova Scotia in mostly rural Shelburne County. It's so small that it rarely appears on most maps, but if you find Clark's Harbour and Cape Sable Island, you're in the right area. A "shag", from which Shag Harbour gets its name, is a bird, a cormorant, and the double-crested cormorant seems to be the most common in the area. Fish and shellfish are numerous in the area, and their gathering is a major means of livelihood there. Years ago, pirates operated along this coastline and preyed on American vessels to the south. Probably the most famous buried treasure in the world, the "Money Pit" of Oak Island, is a little further north, in Mahone Bay, near the provincial capitol of Halifax. There's a lot of folklore attached to the villages and islands along the coast of Nova Scotia. Stories of sea serpents and ghosts and mysterious ghost ships are abundant.
On the night of October 4th, 1967, something occurred at Shag Harbour that added to the local folklore, yet which must have been more than folklore. Something fell from the sky and into Shag Harbour.
On that evening, some residents of southern Nova Scotia first noticed orange lights in the sky. A total of four lights were reported in the sky over Shag Harbour by five teenagers. As they watched, the lights, which flashed in sequence, dove suddenly at about a forty-five degree angle to the water surface. They then appeared to float about a half mile from shore, making a hissing noise on contact with the water. Thinking an airplane of some sort had crashed, the witnesses called the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police unit at Barrington Passage. RCMP Constable Ron Pound was cruising down Highway 3 towards Shag Harbour and had already seen the lights, which to him appeared to be four lights attached to a single solid object about sixty feet long. When he got down to the shore, along with RCMP Corporal Victor Werbieki, RCMP Constable Ron O'Brien, and other witnesses, he could see a yellow light floating offshore and leaving a foamy yellow wake as it moved. As they watched, the light faded until it was no longer visible, possibly drifting out with the tide, but more likely sinking beneath the waves.
Local Coast Guard Cutter #101 and several fishing boats were summoned, but the object was gone before they got to the site. The fishing boats, which got to the scene first, saw a large patch of bubbling water and floating yellow foam, possibly indicating that something had submerged at the site. Nothing more was found that night, and the search was called off at 3:00 a.m. Checks by the RCMP revealed that neither the Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax nor the nearby NORAD radar facility at Baccaro, Nova Scotia had any knowledge of any missing aircraft, either civilian or military.
The next day, the Rescue Coordination Center at Halifax made a report to Canadian Forces Headquarters in Ottawa that stated that something - "no known object" - had hit the water in Shag Harbour. Accordingly, the HMCS Granby was sent to Shag Harbour, where divers searched the bottom until October 8, finding nothing. And that was the end of story until 1993.
What crashed into the sea at Shag Harbour? A UFO, as the stories suggest? Perhaps the stories of UFOs were themselves a cover-up for a retrieval operation involving a Russian spacecraft of some sort? The presence of a Russian submarine might be explained by that. The U.S. was said to have been involved in the investigation. If so, then Project Moon Dust, the Air Force's quick-action team for recovering downed foreign spacecraft, may have been involved.
In 1993, a MUFON investigator in Nova Scotia named Chris Styles became interested in the Shag Harbour case, and was able to get the names of many of the original witnesses from newspaper clippings and to interview some of them. In addition, since there had been little attempt at the time to cover up the original incident, Styles found quite a large paper trail to follow. Styles was joined in his investigation by fellow MUFON investigator Doug Ledger.
The most interesting information that Styles and Ledger uncovered in their investigation was that the search by divers from the Granby was not the end of the event. In interviews with the divers themselves and with others involved, Styles uncovered an incredible story.
It seems that the UFO that hit the water at Shag Harbour had left the area after submerging. It traveled underwater to a place about twenty-five miles away called Government Point, near the site of a submarine detection facilty, CFS Shelburne. It was detected there, and a small group of naval vessels was positioned over it. After several days, just when a salvage operation was being considered, it was joined by a second underwater UFO, which some said seemed to have come to repair the first UFO. The decision was made by the Navy to just watch and wait. After about a week, some of the naval vessels were forced to leave in order to investigate a Russian submarine that had entered Canadian waters, and at that point, the two UFOs began to move. They headed underwater toward the Gulf of Maine, and when they had outdistanced the remaining naval vessels, they broke the surface of the water and vanished into the sky at high speed.
As incredible as this story is, Styles claims to have heard it corroborated over and over by persons who were in a position to know of such events. Unfortunately, most of this testimony seems to have been "off the record", possibly because many of these people were ex-miltary personnel who did not wish to have their pensions jeopardized.
This article first published in 1998.
• "Dark Object" by Don Ledger and Chris Styles
• "The Randle Report: UFOs in the '90s" by Kevin D. Randle
• "The UFO Book:Encyclopedia of the Extraterrestrial" by Jerome Clark