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                         Department of Transport
                              PROJECT MAGNET

One  of  the  first scientists to suggest that  UFOs  represented  a 
probable  by-product  of  advanced  extraplanetary  technology   was 
Wilbert  B. Smith, a radio engineer with the Canadian Department  of 
Transport (DOT). Recognized today as the pioneer of UFO research  in 
Canada, he was instrumental in generating DOT-sponsored UFO research 
in 1950 which yielded some startling findings.

At  the  time, Smith was head of DOT's  Broadcast  and  Measurements 
Section.    As    a   world   expert   in    electromagnetism    and 
telecommunications,  he  had  little difficulty  in  convincing  his 
superiors  to  examine what in effect was his  personal  fascination 
with  the  UFO phenomenon. It was at a North  American  broadcasting 
conference in Washington in early 1950 that he first proposed to his 
superior, DOT Deputy Minister John Baldwin, the need for government-
sponsored UFO study. The dramatic increase in the volume of  nation-
wide sightings during the ensuing months added considerable  support 
to his proposal.

Despite mass media's sensationalist portrayal of the UFO phenomenon, 
public acceptance at that time was surprisingly high. According to a 
poll  taken  in  july of 1950 by the Canadian  Institute  of  Public 

     Half  of  the adult population of Canada  believed  that  these 
     mysterious disks are not just imagination and that they are not 
     just a natural phenomenon.

By  December  of  that  year, Smith was given  the  green  light  by 
Commander  G.P. Edwards, then Deputy Minister of Transport  for  Air 
Services,  to  go ahead with a UFO study which came to be  known  as 
Project  Magnet. Authorized by DOT engineers to draw on UFO  reports 
from  across Canada, Smith embarked on this historical venture  with 
the  assistance of his colleagues from within his own Broadcast  and 
Measurement Section.

To  this day many of the Project Magnet findings  remain  classified 
material, with two notable eXceptions-a small-scale study of twenty-
five 1952 sightings, released in May 1968; and the public disclosure 
of an unprecedented instrument recording of a suspected UFO over the 
Project  Magnet sighting station at Shirley Bay, ten miles  west  of 
Ottawa, in August l954.

The  1952  study  clearly demonstrated that the  majority  of  cases 
compiled  in the eight-month period from May I to December 31  could 
not  be explained as natural identifiable phenomena. Of the  twenty-
five   sightings  analyzed,  sixteen-or  64  per  cent-were   either 
circular,  elliptical, ring-like or cone-shaped vessels  unlike  any 
known  man-made craft. From this cross section of nation-wide  cases 
Smith was able to draw the following conclusions:

     They are a hundred feet or more in diameter; they can travel at 
     speeds  of  several  thousand miles per hour;  they  can  reach 
     altitudes  well  above these which would  support  conventional 
     aircraft  or  balloons; and ample power and force  seem  to  be 
     available  for  all required maneuvers. Taking  these  factor's 
     into  account,  it is difficult to reconcile  this  performance 
     with  the  capabilities  of  our  technology,  and  unless  the 
     technology  of  some terrestrial nation is much  more  advanced 
     than  is generally known, we are forced to the conclusion  that 
     the  vehicles are probably extra-terrestrial, in spite  of  our 
     prejudices to the contrary.

Even though DOT had initially given Smith full authorization and co-
operation,  it soon became evident that his  controversial  findings 
led   to   a   downgrading   of   Project   Magnet   by   subsequent 
administrations.  When portions of its report were  declassified  on 
May  9,1968,  it  became  clear that  the  government  had  entirely 
disassociated itself from both the mandate and the conclusion of the 
project.  This was spelled out in a disclaimer signed by  Dr.  Peter 
Millman,  then  head of Upper Atmosphere Research  of  the  National 
Research  Council, and former Chairman of the Project Second  Storey 

     I  have  been  informed by the  Department  of  Transport  that 
     although  Project  Magnet  was  officially  authorized  by  the 
     Department,  work  on  this  Project  was  carried  out  almost 
     entirely  by Mr. W. B. Smith and was in the nature of  a  spare 
     time  activity.  The  conclusions reached in  this  report  are 
     entirely  those of Mr. Smith and do not represent  an  official 
     opinion of either the Department of Transport or of the  Second 
     Storey Committee.

What  may  have triggered the demise of Project Magnet  was  Smith's 
highly  publicized instrument recording in August 1954, heralded  by 
the  press  as  the world's first. In the  wake  of  the  excitement 
generated  by his 1952 findings, Smith had received approval to  set 
up  a  UFO detection station at DOT's  electronic  establishment  at 
Shirley  Bay. Open for operations in mid-December 1953, the  twelve-
foot-square   laboratory   was  equipped  with  an   assortment   of 
sophisticated electronic equipment including a gamma ray detector, a 
radio wave detector, an ionospheric recorder to monitor activity and 
changes  in the ionized layer of gases sixty miles from the  earth's 
surface,  and a gravimeter, designed to detect magnetic and  gravity 
fluctuations in the atmosphere. Assisting Smith were Professor J. T. 
Wilson  of the University of Toronto; Dr. James Wait, a  theoretical 
physicist  with the Defence Research Board, and Dr. G.  D.  Garland, 
gravitational  expert  at  the federal Mines  and  Technical  Survey 

Once  the  station  was  in  operation,  Smith  and  his  colleagues 
instituted  a twenty-four-hour vigil. Nothing unusual  was  recorded 
until eight months later when on Sunday, August 8, 1954, at 3:01 PM, 
the station's alarm bells rang out signaling that the gravimeter had 
been  tripped.  Fortunately,  Smith  was  on  hand  to  observe  the 
instrument activation. He dashed over to look at it and:

     the deflection in the line (drawn by an electronically operated 
     pen)  was  greater and more pronounced than we have  seen  even 
     when a large aircraft has passed overhead.

     I ran outside to see what might be in the sky. The overcast was 
     down  to  a  thousand  feet, so that  whatever  was  up  there, 
     whatever  it was that caused the sharp variation was  concealed 
     behind the clouds. We must now ask ourselves what it could have 

Although the evidence was inconclusive, Smith was convinced no known 
natural atmospheric phenomenon could account for the unusual pattern.

Uncomfortable  with  the  extensive press coverage  sparked  by  the 
incident,   Department  of  Transport   official's   unceremoniously 
discontinued  Project  Magnet two days later.  This  surprise  move, 
described  years  later by Smith as "premature,"  coincided  with  a 
tightening  of  military  secrecy  on UFOs  in  the  United  States, 
following  repeated  leaks  about  tragic  mishaps  and   mysterious 
disappearances of military pilots who had pursued UFOs.

It  soon became apparent that Smith had been persuaded  to  publicly 
down  play the Project Magnet findings. When he appeared before  the 
House of Commons Special Committee on Broadcasting on May 17,  1955, 
he made the surprise admission that:

     On  the basis of our measurements, which were nil, we  came  to 
     the conclusion we had very little data of any nature to go on.

After that, Smith was still allowed to pursue his interests in  UFOs 
privately; but without DOT co-operation he was forced to scale  down 
his  research. Prior to his untimely death in 1962, he restated  his 
beliefs in an interview with Weekend Magazine.

     From  the weight of the evidence, I think they come from  outer 
     space.  But I can't prove it. The best I have is data on  which 
     you  can put a probability figure. . . look at this way,  if  a 
stock  promoter  told you that there was a 60 per  Cent  probability 
that  a certain stock would go up, I don't think you'd  invest  with 
him.  But  if  the  weatherman told you there  was  a  60  per  cent 
probability  that  a hurricane was going to hit your area,  I  think 
you'd  hurry up and bring in the lawn furniture. It's a question  of 
viewpoint.  You  have to make up your own mind how  significant  you 
think the matter is.

The  documents relating to the Shirley Bay operation  have  remained 
classified   to   this  day.  The  following   classical   case   of 
parliamentary  "double talk" took place in the House of  Commons  on 
December  4, 1963, and demonstrates the  government's  preoccupation 
with  secrecy.  Government  spokesman  Yvon  Dupuis   (Parliamentary 
Secretary  to  the Secretary of State) responded  to questions  from 
Harold Winch (PC-Vancouver East).

     Winch:  Is Canada co-operating with the special  United  States 
     program for investigation of unidentified flying objects and if 
     so, is this entitled "Project Magnet'?

     Dupuis: The United States program known as "Project Magnet"  is 
     not  directed  to  the  investigation  of  unidentified  flying 

     Winch:   Is  "Project  Magnet"  an   unpublicized,   world-wide 
     operation, using specially equipped, super constellations, non-
     uniformed pilots and civilian scientists?

     Dupuis:  "Project Magnet" is a program conducted by  the  naval 
     oceanographic  office  of  the U.S.  Navy  concerned  with  the 
     compilation of geo-magnetic data covering all the oceans of the 

     Winch:  Is  any  data available from "Project  Magnet"  to  the 
     general public?

     Dupius: It is understood that data obtained in "Project Magnet" 
     in  the  form  of geo-magnetic charts  is  available  upon  the 
     application to the Naval Oceanographic Office of the U.S. Navy.

UFO CANADA - Yurko Bondarchuk