Like Roswell, the Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia UFO crash of October 4, 1967, and the subsequent military recovery operation is one of the best documented of the so-called UFO crash/retrieval cases.  Again, like Roswell, there are many witnesses to the events.  But unlike Roswell, there are also some surviving Canadian government documents on the case, which explicitly refer to the crash object as a “UFO.”  The incident was also covered in the Canadian press, particularly by the Halifax (Nova Scotia) Herald-Chronicle, which initially reported the story straight, then started debunking it.


The 1967 Shag Harbour UFO crash
This page was last updated: March 15, 2013

On the night of October 4, 1967, at about 11:20 p.m. Atlantic Daylight Time, multiple witnesses saw a low-flying object about 60 feet long, with 4 or 5 glowing red-orange lights angled downwards at 45 degrees, head down into Shag Harbour, on the southwestern tip of Nova Scotia, Canada.  Multiple witnesses reported hearing a whistling sound, then a whoosh, and finally a loud bang.  Some reported a flash of light.  Thinking a plane of some sort might have crashed, several witnesses called the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment.  Within about 15 minutes, three Mounties were at the scene along with multiple other witnesses, and observed a pale yellow or white light bobbing on the surface of the water, about 300 yards offshore.

A rescue mission was quickly assembled.  Within half an hour of the crash, local fishing boats were already speeding out to the crash site.  By this time the bobbing light had disappeared. They found nothing but a thick, oily, glittering, yellow foam about 80 feet wide and half a mile long. The fisherman said they had never seen anything like it.  It was not normal sea foam.  Bubbles were coming up from below as if something had recently sunk and there was the smell of sulfur.

A nearby Coast Guard cutter joined the rescue party by 12:30 a.m.  They too found nothing.  By the next morning, it had been determined that no planes were missing.  The crash object was now being explicitly referred to as a "UFO" by the RCMP and other government agencies, such as the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) and the Royal Canadian Air Force air desk in Ottawa, the government's UFO clearing house.

Two days after the crash, RCC had assembled a team of Navy divers, who for the next three days combed the bottom of the harbor looking for the object.  One local fisherman said he saw them bringing up aluminum-colored metal debris, although it was unclear if this had been actual crash debris.  The final report, e.g., said not a trace of the crash object had been found.

Evidence from various military and civilian witnesses also emerged of a highly secretive military search involving a small flotilla of U.S. and Canadian ships about 30 miles to the NE of Shag Harbour near Shelburne, site of a supersecret submarine detection base. According to one military witness, he was briefed that the object had been originally picked up on radar coming out of Siberia.  After crashing in Shag Harbour, it traveled underwater up the coast and came to rest on top of the submarine magnetic detection grid near Shelburne.  The ships were anchored there for a week, apparently in an attempt to recover the object.  A barge was hurriedly brought in on which to place the object, with a likely cover story printed in local newspapers to explain its presence there. 

Many photographs were taken by divers and some foam-like debris brought up.  One talkative diver stated that the object wasn't from planet Earth.  Another military witness claimed that there were actually two objects, one perhaps trying to assist the other.

After a week, the fleet departed to chase an intruding Russian submarine.  In the meantime, the object or objects disappeared.  A seemingly identical UFO was then seen by witnesses to depart from Woods Harbour, only half a mile from Shag Harbour.

There had been numerous UFO sightings in eastern Canada and southwestern Nova Scotia in the hours leading up to the crash.  However, the reports are scattered in times and locations.  In some cases a single object was reported; in other cases multiple objects.   Thus it is not clear whether these various UFO events were directly connected with the Shag Harbour crash object.  However, it can be said there was a very high concentration of strange lights maneuvering in the skies of southwestern Nova Scotia on the night of Oct. 4, 1967.  In the end, the primary investigators concluded from various evidence that more than one object may have been involved in the crash. 

The reports began at least 4 hours before the crash around 7:20 p.m. when two airline pilots near Montreal, nearly 400 miles west of Shag Harbour, reported two large explosions near a glowing, orange, rectangular object trailed by a string of lights.  The trailing lights broke formation and danced around the glowing explosion clouds.

The first report from the Halifax, N.S. area, about 150 miles NE of Shag Harbour, began at around 7:50 p.m., followed by another one about 40 miles SW of Halifax at around 8:30, and about 10 miles further SW at around 10:45.

At 10:00, numerous witnesses in the Halifax/Dartmouth N.S. area saw a glowing, orange-red ball 40-60 feet in diameter floating slowly along the harbor coastline.  One of these witnesses was Chris Styles, age 12, who came within 100 feet of the object.  26 years later, Styles was to resurrect the Shag Harbour case and become its principle investigator. 

At about 9:00 p.m., a fishing boat near Halifax, N.S., spotted three bright red lights near the horizon to the NE and four solid objects on ship's radar (3 not visible) forming a square pattern 6 miles on a side.  At around 11:00 p.m., one of the red lights rose straight up in the air and passed over the boat, taking it in the general direction of Shag Harbour to the SW.  The captain later filed a report with the RCMP thinking his ship's sighting might be connected with the reported search for the crash object at Shag Harbour.

By around 11:00 p.m., the UFO reports had shifted from the Atlantic southeastern side of Nova Scotia to the northwestern Bay of Fundy area.  The last of these reports came from a herring fleet and observers on shore.  The objects again departed in the direction of Shag Harbour, perhaps just prior to the crash at around 11:20 p.m.

Most of the information in this recounting of the Shag Harbour crash comes from the book Dark Object by Don Ledger and Chris Styles, plus newspaper articles on the crash in the Halifax Record-Chronicle.  Page numbers from the book (referred to as (“DO”) are often given for reference.   A small amount of information comes from the 1969 Condon Commission write-up on the case (Case 34). Investigation was almost nonexistent, consisting of only a few phone calls.  No attempt was made at identification.  (Even the date and location are lacking detail: the date is given only as “Fall 1967” and the location as “North Atlantic.”)  Many documents are also linked to throughout this write-up, many of them kindly provided by Don Ledger from his personal files, or from his Dark Object website.