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Memory Lane: Flying saucers over the Nickel City!

UFOs (or the more modern term Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, UAP) have been spotted in the skies the world over for millennia, including right here in Greater Sudbury. Share your UFO encounter with us for our next Memory Lane
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Ancient civilizations recorded sightings of unidentified flying objects thousands of years ago. The Greeks, Egyptians, and Mesopotamians left depictions of disk-like objects and unusual atmospheric objects.

According to Livy, a huge fleet of ships appeared in the sky near Rome in 218 BC.

The modern era of UFOs took off in the middle of the 20th century with the first "Cold War" sighting recorded in 1947. 

An American pilot, Kenneth Arnold, flying his private airplane near Mount Rainier in the state of Washington reported seeing a group of strange objects flying in the sky. They "skipped like saucers across the water,” he said. 

The media soon coined the expression "flying saucers."

UFO sightings inspired sky watchers in Northern Ontario as early as 1948. Visits from “men from Mars" fascinated Sudbury and area residents for decades to come. invites readers to share stories of UFO sightings for a Memory Lane article June 26.

In the early 1950s, Sudbury was at the centre of flying saucer activity because of the nickel mines, according to Charles Beck, an American investigator of supernatural phenomena. 

In 1954, the daily newspaper reported Beck, a pastor from Buffalo, N.Y., was in the area to investigate the “landing of a Martian spaceship on the Garson Mine property.”

The newspaper story said Best interviewed a 23-year-old miner who had passed out at the mine’s first aid station after witnessing and being hypnotized by creatures from outer space, possibly Mars.

The Garson miner had told the newspaper in June 1954 that a spaceship moving "20 times faster “  than a jet, hovered like a helicopter about 25 feet from the ground before descending. 

Three “creatures" left the ship, and one delivered a message to the miner by mental telepathy, he said.

"I would rather be dead than relay the message," he said. "It was horrible."

Best told the newspaper the Martians are interested in “atomic energy and any kind of mines.”

“There are many saucer people here now. … They are walking your streets, mingling with your people. … They know every word between your officials.”

Best said he believed there was life on all the planets. 

"The creatures of the cosmos are being disturbed by atomic activity on Earth," he said.

The Sudbury "incident" was preceded by sightings in the North Bay and Sturgeon Falls areas in 1951 and 1952.

Twenty years later, in November 1975, NORAD released a news release regarding another UFO incident that occurred at Canadian Forces Station Falconbridge, a radar installation in Valley East operated by the Canadian military from 1952 to 1985.

“The object was tracked on radar from the base and sighted in binoculars, and an estimated 100-foot diameter sphere. Seven OPP police officers witnessed the UFO. 

“Reports of strange lights were called into police headquarters by people as far away as Sudbury. The lights were low in the sky but suddenly shot straight up.”

There were numerous other UFO sightings around the world in November 1975.

A survey found 1,101 sightings were reported across the country in 2017 at a rate of roughly three per day — the fifth highest number since 1989.

The survey also showed there was an average of two witnesses per UFO sighting and that the sightings lasted about 15 minutes each. Many witnesses were police officers, pilots and other people assumed to have keen observational skills. Most sighting reports in 2017 came from Quebec (518) and Ontario (241).

Recently the American government launched the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force within the Office of Naval Intelligence to "standardize collection and reporting" of sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) or UFOS.

Vicki Gilhula is a freelance writer.


  • The Globe and Mail, Nov. 11, 1953, Flying Saucers: North Bay still sees strange discs in the sky
  • The Sudbury Star, July 6 1954, Martian visitors at Garson, police scoff, women scared
  • National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena
  • Canadian Press, July 10, 2018, Alien visits? UFO survey says 1,101 sightings across Canada in 2017