There’s no hesitation in the man’s hand as he sketches the shapes of the UFOs he has spotted near this rural Saskatchewan community over the years.
“Once you’ve seen them, you never forget. The images are burnt into your memory,” he says, taking a sip from his coffee cup in the truck stop restaurant outside this small town near the Alberta border.
These experiences with the unknown are not so bizarre, according to a recent report. Numbers released by the Winnipeg-based Ufology Research Institute show Saskatchewan posted an all-time record of 98 reported UFO sightings, and Maidstone accounted for more than half of those reports. That’s a big chunk of the total 736 reported sightings across Canada.
Let’s call this particular UFO spotter Dave, as he doesn’t want his real name used because he feels his creditability as a federal employee might be tarnished.
Dave explains that the rocket-shaped craft he has drawn in the cafe along the Yellowhead was what he saw when he was a youngster. He had spotted it when he was with his mother, but her attention was focused on pulling weeds in the garden as he observed the object. By the time the stunned six-year-old had alerted his mom, the UFO had vanished.
Dave’s second drawing, a barrel-shaped object, was one he observed only a couple of years ago as he drove on a rural road near town.
“It didn’t look at all aerodynamic. It looked odd and moved slowly. It had a kind of panel on it and had two lines down the side,” he says.
While there were no witnesses to these events, another encounter he experienced had another set of eyes to record the phenomenon. Driving with a friend one night, Dave and his companion noticed bright lights reflecting off their truck. They stopped the vehicle, jumped out and saw two bright lights in the night sky. As they watched, the lights merged into one solitary light before gradually shrinking in size and disappearing.
Barb Campbell, a former Maidstone resident who now lives in Paynton 25 kilometres farther down the Yellowhead highway, has made numerous UFO sightings in the area during the past three years. From a fireball that shot through the heavens, to what she describes as a triangular-shaped flying object that hovered in the night sky over Maidstone last summer, the UFOs she’s seen have made indelible impressions on her.
One UFO encounter in Maidstone that she witnessed alongside her daughter has made a particularly strong impression.
“We were sitting outside watching the stars when a bright light appeared from the southwest, heading northeast. It grew brighter and larger and was flying as high as some helicopters we see around here,” Campbell says.
Perfectly round, the object was silent and about 60 to 80 metres in diameter. From its underside glowed a constant yellowish-white light.
“It appeared right overhead, and I waved my arms and yelled to try and get a reaction, but the object carried on over Maidstone and out of sight.”
Not surprisingly, Campbell strongly believes there’s something very real about UFOs.
“I have seen enough evidence and talked to people who have had similar encounters to know there’s something out there. It could be aliens or the military, I don’t know, but I mean to get to the bottom of it.”
That’s one of the reasons she founded the Saskatchewan Provincial Paranormal Research Centre (SPPRC), which she runs out of her home. Through her website, www.spprc.org, Campbell and about 10 other observers scattered around the province record UFO sightings in Saskatchewan.
The small group of devotees connect the dots, and there are plenty of them, Campbell says.
“I think there are many people who have had UFO encounters who do not report them because they are afraid they’re going to be called crazy. That’s too bad, because the only way we’re going to get to the truth is by telling our personal stories,” she says.
While Campbell and her colleagues continue to record their experiences on the website, other Maidstone areas residents are not so convinced that aliens and spaceships frequent their air space.
“Never seen one, ever,” says Caroline Smith, who works at the seniors lodge in Maidstone. “Mind you, that could be because I spend too much time working inside. I never get to look up at the sky,” she says with a laugh.
Jenna Wall is a high school student in town. She’s surprised at all the national UFO fame her community has generated.
“Not only have I never seen anything like that, I don’t know anyone else who (has),” Wall says.
Ken Reiter, administrator of the local RM of Eldon, is sitting on the fence as far as the sightings are concerned. There was a time when he used to think people who saw UFOs were wacko, but after a visit to a science centre in the U.S. in the 1980s he changed his mind.
“One display showed that there had been three documented almost identical UFO sightings within seconds of each other, all from places many, many miles apart. Now that makes you think,” Reiter says. The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)