Thursday, June 08, 2017
Canada 150, UFO 355
Canada 150, UFO 355
While we acknowledge Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, it’s also another anniversary of a somewhat more esoteric series of events this year.
With TV shows such as the X-Files, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Stranger Things all receiving high ratings, and the movie industry each year producing dozens of blockbuster science fiction films about aliens interacting with humans, it is not surprising that topics such as UFOs and aliens currently receive wide attention from the public. Some of this has even crept into the mainstream, with a billionaire space entrepreneur recently admitting on CBS’ 60 Minutes that he believes aliens are already on Earth.
However, it should be noted that the term UFO does not automatically imply visitation by alien creatures. It simply refers to objects seen in the sky that could not be explained by witnesses.
With this in mind, it is perhaps fitting that in 2017 we can acknowledge the first known historical record of an observation in Canada of what we would now classify as a UFO – an Unidentified Flying Object – from 1662, a remarkable 355 years ago.
The earliest recorded sighting in Canada (or what would eventually be Canada) of what technically was a UFO was described in a report by Jerome Lalemant, a Jesuit missionary living with Indigenous Algonquin people in New France (i.e. Montreal). His observations were recorded in a document titled Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France, 1610 – 1791. Strange events were described in Chapter 1 of his report, titled “Relation of what occurred in the Mission of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus in the country of New France, from the Summer of the year 1662 to the Summer of the year 1663,” under the heading Three Suns And Other Aërial Phenomena, Which Appeared In New France:
As early as last Autumn we saw fiery Serpents, intertwined in the form of the Caduceus, and flying through mid-air, borne on wings of flame. Over Quebec we beheld a great Ball of fire, which illumined the night almost with the splendor of day — had not our pleasure in beholding it been mingled with fear, caused by its emission of sparks in all directions. This same Meteor appeared over Montreal, but seemed to issue from the Moon’s bosom, with a noise like that of Cannon or Thunder; and, after traveling three leagues in the air, it finally vanished behind the great mountain whose name that Island bears.
Lalemant later recorded some remarkable sundogs on January 7, 1663, and again on January 14. Then, on September 1, 1663, there was a major solar eclipse across the region, that “rendered our forests pale, somber, and gloomy.”
On February 5, 1663, a major earthquake shook the area, and the Jesuits described the effects in very great detail, including effects on people, animals, the physical geography and the vegetation. From Lalemant’s description, it must have been a truly horrific event:
War seemed to be waged even by the Mountains, some of them being uprooted, to be hurled against others, and leaving yawning chasms in the places whence they had sprung. At times, too, they buried the trees, with which they were covered, deep in the ground up to their topmost branches; and at other times they would plant them, branches downward, which would then take the place of the roots, leaving only a forest of upturned trunks.
During this general wreck on Land, ice of five and six feet in thickness was broken, flying into fragments, and splitting open in various places, whence issued either great clouds of smoke or jets of mud and sand, which ascended to a lofty height in the air. Our springs either ceased to flow or gave forth only sulphurous waters; Rivers either disappeared entirely or were thoroughly defiled, the waters of some becoming yellow and of others red; and our great river Saint Lawrence appeared all whitish as far as the neighborhood of Tadoussac…
And adding to the frightening characteristics of the earthquake, unusual lights were seen during this as well:
… beside the roaring which constantly preceded and accompanied the Earthquake, we saw specters and fiery phantoms bearing torches in their hands. Pikes and lances of fire were seen, waving in the air, and burning brands darting down on our houses — without, however, doing further injury than to spread alarm wherever they were seen.
A phenomenon called as earthquake lights is known to geologists, but not well understood. These luminous discharges have been seen as precursors to earthquakes, but are most often seen during the release of seismic energy, suggesting piezoelectric or static effects. Some scientists believe that seismic events are related to observations of UFOs. Given the magnitude of the 1663 earthquake in Quebec, it would not be surprising that earthquake lights were reported.
The original report by Lalemant has been transcribed and is available online: