Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Moonbeam, Ontario: Canada's Sedona?
I was recently asked about Moonbeam, Ontario, and its connection with UFOs, forest rings, and other phenomena. I had forgotten I published a piece about Moonbeam on the original UFO UpDates, back in October 2004.
The Moonbeam Connection
It predates the Men Without Hats song, but the lyrics are still appropriate:
You, you were on a moonbeam
Me, I was on a star
Gee everything was blue, blue-green
Because everything was far
Not that far away, but far enough, is the town of Moonbeam, Ontario. It's just east of Kapuskasing and about a two-hour drive northwest of Timmins in the Canadian Shield along Highway 11.
It's also the new Canadian Mecca for UFOs.
The town doesn't come by this reputation lightly. It may, in fact, be the only place in the world named because of a UFO. Even Roswell can't claim that.
According to Melanie Bergeron of the Moonbeam Economic Development Council (MEDC), the town may have been named because unusual lights have been reported in the area since early in the 1900s. When incorporated in 1922, the name Moonbeam seemed appropriate for that reason and also because of the late-night reflections off nearby beautiful, blue-green Remi Lake. The town itself was named for Moonbeam Lake and Moonbeam Creek, both east of the townsite near the hamlet of Strickland. Tales are told that pioneers in the area often saw flashing lights in the skies and what they called "moonbeams" falling down near the creek.
In 1969, Rene Brunelle, then Ontario Minister of Lands and Forests, was routinely interviewed by reporters about various events and issues. During one interview, he was quoted as making a comment about Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon that year, pointing out (probably half in jest) that the town of Moonbeam had a connection to the story attracting attention around the world.
An area resident sent Brunelle a letter relating the story of how Moonbeam got its name and describing some of the UFO sightings reported in the region over the years. He advised:
The initial scientific conclusion which can be drawn is that the UFO's are glowing electromagnetic plasmas produced by corona effects, due to faulty conditions on nearby power transmission lines.
However, he also noted that residents argue that:
... these objects were around before the power lines were built.
They advise that the majority of sightings occur in November after some snow has fallen. The consensus (for some unknown reason) is that they will reappear this year on the night of November 23rd.
They describe the UFOs as flattened domed disks, 15 to 20 feet in diameter, appearing with a roaring noise and coloured from red to orange. At these times, radio and television are blanked out by static. Some residents use welder's Polaroid goggles to look at the UFO's claiming this gives them a better view of the "moonship" and its alien occupants.
The original author of the letter has not been located, but the original document has been discovered in provincial archives and serves as proof that something may have been seen near Moonbeam for many years.
On a clear summer night in about 1970, at 11:30 pm, an area resident had just dropped off a hitchhiker on a road near Moonbeam when he saw a pale green object hanging in the sky an estimated 100 feet away and about 1,000 feet in the air. The egg-shaped object, which he initially thought was an aircraft of some kind, was about 50 feet long and 20 feet wide. It seemed to bounce up and down in the sky and was definitely not behaving like a plane, apparently "defying the laws of gravity."
"I was afraid to drive under it," the witness said. Frightened, he turned off the engine and watched it in eerie silence. "It was so unbelievable," he added.
After watching it for about a full minute, the light vanished abruptly, leaving no trace.
However, that same week, a newspaper account described how some other people leaving a movie theatre at about 11:30 pm one night had seen a strange light in the sky as well.
Since then, stories have continued to circulate that odd lights and craft have been repeatedly seen in the area. One farm in particular along Moonbeam Creek has a reputation for attracting UFOs, apparently. Brunelle's informant noted:
The other startling fact is that these ships always land and take off from the same places. Four such spots along the creek were show to me, with one being just due west... Had these been plasmas generated by storms or hydro lines, they would have been discharged upon touching earth.
Examination of the ground at these places show the rock to be stained brownish-black with some crumbling as if due to exposure to intense heat. Geiger counter readings go off the meter scale in the centre of the areas indicating possible use of controlled nuclear propulsion.
He added, ominously: "I wonder about the possible effects on the cattle grazing over this land."
Unfortunately, the records of such tests, studies or scientific readings cannot be located, so there is no way to verify these claims. When Bergeron visited the area this year, she found brownish-black stains on some white stones, without any obvious explanation, although she was not at a location where objects had been reported.. She did, however, speak with the land owner, who did admit that unusual objects and lights had been seen near the creek in recent years.
The connection with hydro and transmission lines is tenuous at best, but even here is a claim to fame for Moonbeam, for just a few kilometres away from the town is a major scientific installation. An array of radar towers part of a worldwide network called SuperDARN is based there, consisting of a myriad of T-shaped antennas designed to monitor solar storms and other elements of "space weather."
Yet another strange phenomenon in the area is "forest rings," not related to "crop circles" but seemingly as mysterious. Within the boreal forest of dense stands of black spruce, tamarack and pine standing in moist, peaty ground are thousands of perfectly round rings. Visible only from the air, the rings of lighter-coloured growth were discovered when geologists examined aerial photographs. Some geologists suggested they signaled diamond-bearing kimberlites (rare igneous, blue-tinged rocks). One believes the circles could be giant, natural batteries. A prevailing theory is that they were caused by an unusual fungus which affected the vegetation as it grew radially away from a central spore. Most of the rings are less than 300 metres across, but one is more than two kilometres wide. More than 2,000 have been found in a band that stretches from Lake Nipigon in Ontario to Matagami, Quebec, including a cluster on Anticosti Island in the St. Lawrence River.
It has been discovered that the soil within the rings is rich in carbonates, leading to a theory that electro-chemical processes in the earth can act as a natural battery in the ground that is slowly and continually discharging. A mineral such as iron could act as a negative charge at a circle's centre and comes into contact with positively-charged carbonate soil that produces acidic conditions. This in turn eats away at the soil, forming a ring of organic compounds that suppress tree growth.
With these and other "out of this world" elements, the town has always had an affinity for space-related themes. In the 1970s, astronaut Eugene Cernan visited the town on a public relations tour through Ontario.
In 1990, when nearby towns were erecting monuments and other edifices that symbolized their community as tourist attractions, the Moonbeam town council decided that something a bit out of the ordinary might be preferable. Some people wanted a statue of something to represent the area's wildlife, but eventually it was decided to build a "full scale" model of a flying saucer. For a cost of about $25,000, a fibreglass UFO was constructed, complete with flashing lights around its rim, and erected on the edge of town.
Not far away, a hiking trail was developed around Remi Lake, with guideposts marking the way. It was decided that the trail needed a mascot to help visitors enjoy their visit, so Kilo the alien was born. He (or perhaps she) now greets tourists as they enter the area.
This past summer, a movie production company began shooting a documentary on Yonge Street, starting at the Toronto waterfront and heading north into rural Ontario. When they reached Moonbeam, they were so impressed with the stories of UFOs and aliens visiting the area that they are now working on a documentary about Moonbeam itself.
This coincided, oddly enough, with more UFO sightings. Early in August 2004, the owner of the Moonbeam Golf Course woke up at 2:30 am to let his dog outside. When he looked out, he saw two large lights in the sky. He thought at first they were on a helicopter, but he couldn't hear any sound that would indicate there was a plane or copter in the area. Thinking they might be a reflection off nearby lights, he walked away from his house and found the UFOs did not change position or shape. Frightened, he went back inside his home and watched the lights hanging stationary in the sky for another 15 to 20 minutes before nervously heading back to bed. In the morning, there was no sign that anything extraterrestrial had visited the site.
When he mentioned his sighting to others, he learned that a few days earlier, a couple living near the golf course had also seen a strange light in the sky that hovered for awhile, then vanished abruptly.
Spurred by this growing accumulation of strange stories and occurrences, the MEDC decided to further promote the UFO connection. A website has been developed and a "UFO Hotline" has been designated for local residents to call and share their stories. Archives are being scoured for earlier records of UFO sightings and word has gone out that the MEDC is interested in hearing from witnesses.
Moonbeam is off the beaten track, but because of this might certainly be a place for aliens to land without being seen by too many Earthlings. Skeptics can argue that stories of lights in the sky and dancing moonbeams are probably just fanciful notions and figments of people's imaginations. But to those who have seen the lights and know the stories, Moonbeam could very well replace Toronto as the center of the universe.