Over 50 years ago a Barrington Passage RCMP officer asked Laurie Wickens what he had been drinking when he called in a plane crash in Shag Harbour.
It was Oct. 4, 1967, and the then 17-year-old Nova Scotian was out with four of his friends.
“I was the first one to call the RCMP that night,” he said, in mid-September phone interview. Wickens added that there are misinterpretations of the UFO sighting being over the water.
“It wasn’t. It was in over the land. The ocean would be to the south of us. We were going west.”
Wickens dove back into his memory after revealing the interpretative centre that he helps out with was broken into and vandalized Sept. 8, 2018.
Back in his memory, one of Canada’s most well-documented UFO cases unfolded. To him and the members of the ’56 Pontiac, it looked like a plane.
“(We weren’t) paying too much attention until it started to go down. (Then) we really looked. We were going up a hill. When we got to the top of the hill, we lost sight of it.”
Then there was an impact in the harbour. And they watched as a light bobbed along the surface.
“None of the houses that are there now, were there then. There were no streetlights,” he said. “It was properly dark.”
Eventually, 25 to 30 people gathered in a parking lot and launched a party to help save the individual in the downed vessel. Ron Pond was one of the first RCMP officers to also call in the aircraft.
After the initial sighting, the light went out, and everyone from local fishermen to the Coast Guard to Halifax Search and Rescue was involved.
Because of the inability to identify the object, the Canadian government referred to it as an unidentified flying object in official documents. The Canadian Military also became involved in recovery efforts.
Now, that doesn’t mean that little grey men were piloting the downed craft, but because all the relevant parties were contacted to see if any record of aircraft had taken off, and nothing was out of sorts, then the only recourse was to call it a UFO.
It was 1967 and Lester B. Pearson was Prime Minister. There was a Red Scare in Canada at that time, especially with the news around Russian spy, Igor Gouzenko in 1966, but Wickens was quick to dismiss the notion of any Russian aircraft.
If anything, it was American.
“We figured it was American military. There was a radar base and a secret Navy base,” he admitted. “They were headed back to the air force base and shut that down. No civilians were allowed to leave. The Pentagon and the government met here.”
Still, it’s provided Wickens with the opportunity to share his story to those interested. He continues to go around the province to speak on what he saw. He also is involved within the ufology community of Nova Scotia.
The story he shared, albeit brief, was an addendum to the news story of the Shag Harbour Incident Society UFO Interpretative Centre.
An individual had broken into the centre during the night of Sept. 8, 2018. When Wickens showed up at the centre the next day, he noticed the windows were smashed in.
Further vandalism was uncovered by the 68-year-old when he entered.
“I come in and I saw one cash register on the floor, and then I saw another one, so I just went back out and called the RCMP.”
Decorative rocks, which had been painted by a local artist, had been thrown out the windows and the suspect set off a fire extinguisher inside the interpretive centre.
Inside the cash registers and safe was $500. The fire extinguisher, with its chemicals, ate away at most of the electronics. Most of the pictures, student projects and newspaper clippings were undamaged.
The overall cost of damage was $25,000. But rest assured, everything was cleaned up ready for the
“The museum is very important to the community as it keeps the story of what occurred on the night of October 4, 1967, alive and brings in tourism,” Wickens said.
He added the RCMP had the suspect in custody.
The forensics team had come into the shop to dust for prints, take photos, and conveniently when the theme set off the fire extinguisher, they left a footprint.
“(The RCMP officer) said the ID people are coming. She says, ‘I imagine by the shoes, they already know who it is’,” Wickens recalled. “(The suspect) went to somebody’s house, told them what he had done and they called the RCMP.”
Looks like that case is closed, but what crashed in Shag Harbour 51 years ago is still suspect.