The meteorite that startled cows and Quebecers in 1994

Meteorites fall to Earth every day. But in June 1994, one landed in a farmer's field outside Montreal.

Farmer discovered 5-billion-year-old meteorite in his cow field

Meteorite lands on Quebec farm

28 years ago
Duration 2:17
After a bright streak is seen in the sky over Montreal in 1994, a farmer finds a meteorite in his cow field.

Meteorites fall to Earth every day. But in June 1994, one landed in a farmer's field outside Montreal. 

The CBC's Prime Time News took viewers to a farm not far from Sorel, Que., to get a glimpse of the thing that came from "outer space" on June 14, 1994. 

The meteorite had landed there after it had "roared across the sky above Quebec," in the words of host Peter Mansbridge.

"A rare event, you might think," said Mansbridge. "But as the CBC's Kevin Tibbles reports, scientists say it happens every day." 

'Big boom'

Farmer Stéphane Forcier was led to the meteorite by a hole in his field that he compared to a groundhog's. (Prime Time News/CBC Archives)

Tibbles and the CBC camera looked at the very spot where the "five-billion-year-old chunk of history" had ended up.

"It made a big boom. The cows were all looking in this direction," said farmer Stéphane Forcier, in a translation of his words in French.

What the cows turned out to be looking at was a small crater in the field that Forcier said he initially took for a "groundhog's hole."

"It was bizarre," he added. 

About an "arm's length" down inside the hole was a "chunk" of meteorite.

'Very bright light'

Witness Michel Plante had been talking to someone outside when he "suddenly" saw something in the sky over Montreal. (Prime Time News/CBC Archives)

In Montreal, southwest of the landing site, Michel Plante described seeing something streak across part of the sky.

"Suddenly, I saw something in the sky, extremely bright, very bright light," he said, pointing. "It lasted about two or three seconds".

An astronomer from a local planetarium described what happened when meteorites fell after viewers saw an animation of the space object's path.

"You have to understand that it goes so fast that the amount of energy that's created is huge," said Pierre Chastenay of Montreal's Dow Planetarium. "Huge enough to create the fireball and the shockwave."

An everyday event

An animation showed the path the space object took across North America before landing near Sorel, Que. (Prime Time News/CBC Archives)

Such events happened all the time, said Blythe Robertson of the Geological Survey of Canada.

"Meteorites are landing on the Earth every day, someplace," he told Tibbles. "Most of them go undetected because they land in the ocean or unpopulated areas," he said.

Tibbles added that it was "the largest meteorite to land in Canada in nearly 20 years." 

Scientists wanted to study the rarity — if Forcier was willing to part with it.

"Their opening bid is $500," said Tibbles.

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