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Did the Canadians Have a Top Secret Flying Saucer Program?


In 1978, during my meeting with Murl Smith, the wife of Wilbert Smith, the director of the official Canadian investigation into flying saucers known as Project Magnet, she told me of the efforts by the Canadians to land an alien by the name of AFFA at the Top Secret Defense Research Board Station at Suffield, Alberta. 

The three groups that were involved in the negotiations for the government, according to Mrs. Smith were “the government” (then Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent was mentioned in this regard), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Defense Department. 

The inclusion of the Prime Minister on such a committee makes sense, as does the inclusion of the Defense Department. Suffield after all was the Canadian equivalent to Area –51 where the Defense Department’s Defense Research Board tested chemical weapons and new weapons of war.

The inclusion of the R.C.M.P., however made no sense. What did they plan to do at Suffield – arrest the alien? The R.C.M.P. in many respects was nothing more than a glorified police force in 1954 when the planned landing of the alien took place.  

They had filed UFO reports that ended up on Wilbert Smith’s desk, but this is because in many small Canadian towns, and in many provinces, they were the main police force. They would be the police force that witnesses would go to when reporting UFO sightings. They were therefore a logical source to gather up UFO reports across the country. 

Their presence on a Top-Secret base, and their involvement in an attempt to contact and land an alien was totally out of place. 

In 1967, then Canadian Minister of Defense, Paul Hellyer, referred to the group who had been involved in opening the UFO landing base at Suffield, as a Top Secret Committee.  He did not, however, spell out who was on the committee.  

Hellyer was pressured by researcher Arthur Bray and myself to answer two questions regarding his 1967 statement made at the opening of a UFO landing base in St. Paul, Alberta. The small concrete “base” had set up as a town Centennial Project, and tourist attraction. The two questions Hellyer was pressed on were: 

  1. How did the aliens know where to land?
  2. Who was the top defense official who had supposedly told him the story?

The first question was never answered by Hellyer, but over a couple years he tried to convince us he was trying to answer the second. He stated that the official in question was the “UFO expert” in the defense department, but he unfortunately couldn’t remember his name. He assured Arthur Bray that there was no UFO cover-up as far as he knew “at least on this side of the border.” 

The official had provided him with a good UFO file, and had told him the story about the opening of the Suffield base for any UFOs that cared to land without being shot at. Hellyer even claimed he had gone to the National Archives to look for the file, and couldn’t find it. After many years of reflection he was never able to remember the name of this top official in his department. 

What he did reveal is that the official had been the R.C.M.P. official on the Top-Secret committee in 1954, and thus was aware of what had happened. He had moved up to become a top defense official in 1967. Although this provided no leads to us in talking to the top UFO expert in the Canadian Defense Department, it did provide a confirmation of Mrs. Smith’s story that the R.C.M.P. had been involved. 

Hellyer’s reference to the committee raises another interesting scenario. It raises the possibility that there was a Top-Secret group working on the UFO problem in 1954 that we have never been aware of. 

Wilbert Smith’s “Project Magnet” project has often been referred to as a Top-Secret project. A careful check of the facts shows that it was not. 

The actual fact was that in 1950, Wilbert Smith wrote a Top-Secret memo on flying saucers to his boss at the department of Transport, and for a brief moment the whole issue was Top-Secret. It was in this initial Top-Secret memo that Smith stated he had been told by American officials that flying saucers existed, and that it was the most highly classified subject in the United States, among other things. 

A review of the documents left in his files by Wilbert Smith, however, shows that shortly after the memo was written the project was approved and run at a secret level. In a letter dated January 3, 1951, a little over a month after he wrote the top-secret memo, Smith wrote to a fellow by the name of Gordon Cox at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. In the letter Smith stated, 

“Incidentally, our program is now official within the Department of Transport and is known as Project Magnet. It is classified as secret until we know where we stand . . .” 

Further proof that Project Magnet was only Secret if one takes a close look at the original Top-Secret memo written by Smith. Right below the date is a “Secret” stamp, not visible in many of the photocopies that have been made of the document. It is evident from this that the document was downgraded to secret shortly after it was written to coincide with the project which was given the “Secret” classification in January 1951. 

So, if Magnet was only at a “secret” level, where is the Top Secret committee working on UFOs in 1954 referred to by the Minister of Defense? The only other UFO program know in Canada during the fifties was Project Second Storey, run out of the Department of Defense, and it was only at a “Secret” level. It appears there is one missing Canadian UFO project active in 1954, and classified at Top-Secret. 

1954 was also the year that Project Magnet was shut down, in part because of the media reaction to the mysterious over flight of the flying saucer station run officially by Wilbert Smith outside of Ottawa. Smith blamed “well-meaning” journalists for the demise of the program with their constant stories hyping leaks that came from the flying saucer program. 

Is it possible that, like other classified programs here and in the United States that suffered from leaks, that the program was simply shut down, named changed, and another more highly classified program begun? 

Many people over the years have questioned why Wilbert Smith spoke so much about things that were supposed to be classified? In this case however, we know that Smith didn’t say a thing. Wilbert Smith kept the story of the landing field at the Top-Secret Suffield base secret. Its existence was not disclosed until five years after Wilbert Smith died, and then by the government itself. 

It is possible that like the Top-Secret committee mentioned by Hellyer in 1967, that there are many things Wilbert Smith did that were never made public. We know for example that the “Project Magnet Report” written in 1953, sat on the Prime Minister’s desk for three months, that there was a room in the Pentagon where the small pieces of flying saucer hardware were stored, and that Smith was given brief access to the alien bodies, and a crashed flying saucer. These items, known to Smith, were also not released till long after Wilbert Smith died.

We may be seeing only the tip of the iceberg as to what happened during his tenure as the director of the official Canadian investigation into flying saucers. The more we dig the more that becomes uncovered as to what actually happened. To that end, the search for a possible Top-Secret Project will continue.

 For more information on the Canadian UFO landing base and Wilbert Smith see,