The University of Manitoba Archives has received an out-of-this-world donation for their Psychical Research and Spiritualism collection.
Respected Canadian ufologist, Chris Rutkowski, author of the Canadian UFO Survey, was asked by head archivist Shelley Sweeney what he planned on doing with his work after he retired.
“I have a little bit of a rep in that sense. People know me as the guy who is interested in UFOs. I happened to bump into the archivist,” the 61-year-old said in a December phone conversation. “I hadn’t really thought about (retirement) yet.”
He began his investigations into UFOs during the 1970s while an astronomy student. When fellow colleagues passed on following up on witness reports, his curiosity took over.
“I was actually starting university, taking astronomy in the Faculty of Science, and at the same time there were a lot of UFOs being reported,” he recalled. “I was just fascinated by what I was hearing.”
Officially, the UFO Survey started in 1989, and all the compiled data from those are included in the donation. Also included are documents from the National Archives, RCMP, Canadian Forces on the Falcon Lake incident, as well as the t-shirt and hat worn by witness Stefan Michalak during the May 1967 event.
“There are many amazing cases dating back to the 1940s where people in Labrador, during the radar installation at Goose Bay, picked up a number of UFOs zipping across the screens that were detected on numerous radar sets,” Rutkowski said. “The military there was scratching their heads over what that might have been.
“There are some amazing cases that are well documented in Canadian history that are a part of this collection.”
It is the 50th collection of paranormal phenomenon material to the University of Manitoba, which also includes the work of spiritualist Samuel Aykroyd, the grandfather of actor Dan Aykroyd, as well as the work of mathematician A.R.G. Owen and wife Iris on the Philip Experiment.
For Sweeney, who retired from her position Dec. 20, it’s an addition that broadens the diversity of content, which includes papers of 1920, ’40s paranormal investigator, Dr. Thomas Glendenning Hamilton.
“I think it is fair to say that we have the largest number of collections, and with the Hamilton Family séance collections, some of the most important collections exploring paranormal phenomena,” Sweeney wrote in an email, “With Bernard Grad we explore healing and now with Chris’ collection we will cover Canadian UFOs, so we have a fairly broad coverage as well.”
In recognition of the donation, the archives held a special event Nov. 7 featuring Rutkowski, as well as the son of Falcon Lake incident witness, Stan Michalak.
“For me, (the University of Manitoba Archives are) the most amazing set of collections anywhere,” Rutkowski admitted.
He is continuing to transfer his files over to the archives, and they should be available for public viewing later in 2020.
“It’s made quite a dent, but it’s going to take a while to transfer everything.”
Photos courtesy Shelley Sweeney