WINNIPEG - Startled residents of the rural Quebec community Ste-Marie-de-Monnoir
see flashing lights glide over a field and out of sight.
The next morning, they find strange
circles swirled into the ground.
At Wesleyville, Nfld., eight or nine
people notice a saucer-shaped object swoop low over housetops and along the
Despite investigations by the police,
neither incident can be explained.
But the strange sightings were only
two among 141 reports of unusual flying objects last year now documented in
what may be Canada's first national survey of UFO contacts.
The study was co-ordinated by Chris
Rutkowski, a Winnipeg UFO researcher who wants the science community to start
taking such sightings a lot more seriously.
"It tells us that UFOs haven't gone
away, it tells us that UFOs are being seen right across Canada," Rutkowski,
who has a degree in astronomy, said this week.
Rutkowski compiled the survey from
reports submitted to private investigators across the country, police and the
Ottawa-based National Research Council, which supplied two-thirds of the
material for the study.
Such information was always available
but never put together in a form that painted a picture of the UFO situation
Canada-wide, he said.
More than half the reports didn't
have enough information to evaluate properly and one third had probable
explanations, said Rutkowski, president of the Royal Astronomical Society of
Canada's Winnipeg branch.
Of the rest, seven were stamped
solidly unknown, meaning they were seen by several people and investigated by
the police and NRC, without any explanation being found, he said.
The Quebec and Newfoundland sightings
were two examples of the latter type, as was a sighting near Beaver Creek,
Man., where people reported seeing a diamond shape with red lights zip over
their car and out across Lake Winnipeg.
But one of Ruktkowski's intriguing
reports has yet to be confirmed.
According to a second-hand report, a
woman and her son were driving near Carp, Ont., just west of Ottawa when a
strange object flew toward them and shone a bright light at their car, burning
the boy's arm.
Rutkowski stresses that he wants to
take a rational, scientific approach to the reports and will not offer any
theories about unexplained sightings.
But he hopes publicity from the
survey will spark more people to come forward with their observations,
providing a larger body of evidence that could be investigated by scientists.
A Gallup poll indicated that while
eight per cent of Canadians have seen UFOs, only one in ten sightings is
reported, Rutkowski said.
"People tend to think little green
men when they hear the word UFO and there tends to be a ridicule curtain that
holds people back."
Fellow UFO investigator Ed Barker of
Winnipeg welcomed the survey, but warned that it provides a far-from-complete
picture of UFO reports.
Rutkowski documented only a handful
of sightings in Atlantic Canada, 62 in Ontario and Quebec, and 71 in the West,