More Canadians say they are seeing unidentified flying objects than ever before, with 2012 numbers nearly doubling the record number of sightings recorded in previous years.
'What exactly is driving the UFO phenomenon? Why do people report seeing UFOs? ... Maybe there's some worthwhile information in there that needs rooting out.' —Chris Rutkowski, Canadian UFO survey
In 2012, there were 1,981 sightings, nearly doubling the previous annual record of 1,004 sightings recorded in 2008. There were record numbers of UFOs reported in every province last year except for Saskatchewan and P.E.I.
Chris Rutkowski, a civilian science writer who has produced the Canadian UFO survey since 1989, has just finished compiling all of 2012 reports.
"It’s something across the board," said Rutkowski. "People in Canada were actually looking up into the sky more than in previous years."
The objects people witness come in a variety of forms — from triangles and balls of fire, to the more traditionally ovoid-shaped flying saucers, hovering in the sky.
Adam Canning, 10, of Lake Charlotte, N.S., is one of the many hundreds of Canadians who are reporting UFOs.
He said the UFO he witnessed with a friend earlier this year looked like an orb.
"I could see it in the distance for about a minute and then like boom, it went really fast," said Adam, standing on a hill near his house, pointing at the sky.
"I heard this, beep, beep, beep. I knew something was in the sky. I looked up and there was a big thing. Big, round, like a big hotel or something. I looked at my buddy and I’m like, ‘That has to be a UFO.’ There’s normally helicopters flying over our house but that was way bigger than a helicopter, so I knew it wasn’t a helicopter," he said.
"There was this one little thing sticking out from the front, it looked like a little gun or something, and there were these two things sticking out of the bottom, it looked like legs or something … There were these little round lights, around the whole thing and at the top, there was one big light."
The majority of 2012’s sightings were gathered by civilian organizations, after various federal agencies decided to give up tracking and investigating UFO reports, according to documents obtained under the Access to Information Act earlier this year. Those organizations then pass their information on to Rutkowski.
He said that may be part of the reason for the more that double the number of reports in 2012.
"It is very easy to report online, anonymously, without any worry about judgment or retribution, so I think it is very likely people will be reporting things more often to civilian organizations," he said.
Kathleen Canning, Adam’s mother, said she is convinced her son is telling the truth about what he saw that night last January.
"Even before this sighting, I think for us to think we are the only ones in this vast universe is a bit naive, perhaps," said Canning.
Adam drew a picture of what he saw that evening. Rutkowski said it is one of the rare times a UFO cannot be explained.
"Only about 7.5 per cent of the cases last year ended up being unexplained. Oddly enough, only about 15 per cent were completely explained, so it's really a matter of intense investigation. There's a lot of work that needs to be done before we can put reports like this into bed," said Rutkowski.
"Since we don’t have the proof or evidence to suggest that aliens are behind the UFO phenomenon, what exactly is driving the UFO phenomenon? Why do people report seeing UFOs? That’s one of the reasons we put together this study is to ask these questions and suggest that maybe there’s some worthwhile information in there that needs rooting out."
Adam’s sighting will be counted in the 2013 survey, expected to be completed next year.
Some of the most interesting cases from 2012:
Jan. 1: 9:30 p.m.
Cornwall, P.E.I. — Two witnesses watched a triangular black craft with pink lights on its wingtips pass overhead slowly and silently. When it was directly overhead, the object’s underside looked like a large bright ball of white light. It flew around the town in an arc, reversed course and eventually flew off to the north over the treetops. The sighting lasted about five minutes.
Feb. 25: 5 p.m.
Elmira, Ont. — Two witnesses saw two dark objects "shaped like guitar picks" moving silently overhead at an estimated 61 metres high, heading east.
May 11: 12:37 a.m.
Courtenay, B.C. — A large square object with more than 30 multicoloured lights hovered over the ocean, moved from side to side and then in an arc. It was described as a "giant lit up billboard floating in the sky." It made "rounds" for 10 minutes before vanished from sight.
July 7: 11:30 p.m.
Saint John, N.B. — An object like a bright "neon green hexagon" suddenly appeared only six metres away from a witness. It remained motionless and silent, appeared to split in two sections then reformed. When the witness went to get someone else to see it, it vanished.
Aug. 3: 9:30 p.m.
Shoal Harbour, N.L. — Four people saw a disc-shaped, glowing orange object flying west to east across the sky, then stop suddenly in mid-flight. After about 10 seconds, it resumed its flight and went out of sight.
Nov. 18: 12:15 p.m.
Brossard, Que. — Three witnesses observed an object "twirling" above a field in an industrial area. After watching it for three minutes, one filmed it with his iPhone as it moved away towards the west.