Every so often — maybe once or twice a year — Peterborough-based horror writer Ian Rogers is surprised to get a message inquiring about his UFO past.
The 44-year-old was keen on the unknown as a teen and took an active interest in the Guardian UFO case that happened in West Carleton, Ont. and the Carp Valley in August 1991.
And it attracted the attention of UFO Town producers Nick Crowe and Harriet Luke.
“I think how they found me was through the MUFON Ontario report that’s been online for years,” Rogers admitted during a March phone call, adding he was contacted by Saloon Media in January 2020.
The incident in question took place thirty years ago. Diane Labenek witnessed a UFO-type object next to flames in a nearby field. Six months later ufologist Bob Oeschler received a package with no return address from Canada. Inside was a videotape labelled “Guardian” and the footage was compelling, to say the least.
The experience and subsequent travel from Whitby to Carp intrigued Crowe and spurred him on to track down Rogers in January 2020 and interview him.
“It started as a documentary about big UFO cases in Canada, and when they came to Guardian, they realized it needed a documentary all on its own,” Rogers said of his collaboration with Crowe.
Rogers was perfect as a central character because the then 16-year-old was the link to ufologist Bob Oeschler.
“In a pre-internet world, (Ian) decided to get in his mom’s car and drive to West Carleton and dig around,” Crowe said. “Ian, as a teenager, was in touch with Bob Oeschler as well, so we were able to trace the path of the packages which was one of the most compelling elements of this story.”
Rogers was able to compile details and events that had been happening independently of the Guardian tape in the region of Almonte, Carp, Stittsville and West Carleton during the 1980s and ‘90s. He concluded that the video and separate photos were all a hoax.
“Everyone but Oeschler believes that it was a hoax,” Rogers said. “There are articles in the local paper talking about strange figures being seen a year before the Guardian event was alleged to have been filmed.
“That’s very interesting and speaks to something that could be a real phenomenon in the area.”
For him it all boils down to belief and why the Guardian case is the litmus test.
“Even if Guardian did fake these things, why did he decide to do it? It all comes down to belief,” he said.
Crowe echoed the sentiment of belief, whether belief or skepticism in the phenomenon, it’s a fascinating glance through the lens of an experiencer.
“I think one of the central themes of the film is belief and this fascination with what life may lie beyond the earth,” 47-year-old Kingston native said.
Crowe and director Catie Lamer approached hoax allegations as part of the belief, much like Rogers said, and wove in the “Unsolved Mysteries” segment that propelled the story into the supernatural spotlight.
“We certainly arrived in West Carleton last summer with ‘Was it real, or was it a hoax?’ in the front of our minds,” Crowe recalled. “What we quickly found when people knew we were in the area is we had people reaching out to us who had separate experiences around the same time.
“Where the film goes is the Guardian story is the entry point to something very strange going on in West Carleton and next-door types were having these experiences.”
UFO Town premieres March 26 at 9 p.m. on CBC. It will continue to stream for free on CBC Gem.