Ufologist Finds 'Curious' UFO Briefing Document from 1967 in Canadian National Archives


Canadian ufologist Chris Rutkowski discovered a "curious briefing document" prepared in November of 1967 while going through the UFO files within the Canadian National Archives.  Rutkowski shared the document on February 28th to his UFO blog Ufology Research.

"[The document] had been created, with accompanying slides, by Wing Commander D.F. (Douglas Furg) Robertson of the Canadian Forces, possibly to bring the new Minister of Defence up to date (the infamous Paul Hellyer had left the position a few months earlier)" Rutkowski said in the blog.  "But the Briefing was more designed to help alleviate the burden of dealing with UFOs by the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND)."

The document defines a UFO as "an unusual aerial sighting which the observer is unable to identify or explain"; a definition Rutkowski said is at odds with more refined versions that place some responsibility on the investigator rather than the observer. 

The briefing tasks the Director of Operations with "the responsibility for investigating unusual aerial sighting reports."

This responsibility fell to the Director since the National Research Council of Canada's (NRC) interests lied in the study of fireballs and meteors, not UFOs; so UFO reports were at first referred to the Department of National Defence (DND), then forwarded to Air Defence Command (ADC) for investigation.  By 1967, UFOs had been determined to not be a threat to national security, so their study was transferred to Canadian Forces Headquarters (CFHQ), where, in 1966, it became the duty of the Director of Operations.

The document lists the seven potential categories of UFO phenomena as:

  1. Hoaxes, fabrications, and frauds;
  2. Hallucinations, mass hysteria, and rumour phenomena;
  3. Lay misinterpretation of well-known physical phenomena such as, meteorological, astronomical, optical, etc;
  4. Advanced technologies such as, test vehicles, satellites, and re-entry effects;
  5. Poorly understood physical phenomena such as, rare atmospheric-electrical effects, cloud phenomena, plasmas of natural or technological origin, etc;
  6. Poorly understood psychological phenomena;
  7. Unusual aerial sightings which the observer is unable to identify or explain, namely, UFOs.

Fireball and meteor reports were sent to the NRC Meteor Centre and to a provincial NRC representative, while everything else was divided into three categories:

  1. Class A: Information provided warrants a formal investigation, or;
  2. Class B: Information provided is of an interesting nature but does not warrant a formal investigation, or; 
  3. Class C: Information provided is of little practical value, no investigation or further action required.

According to the document, the number of UFO reports jumped from 40 in 1966 to 167 reports in 1967, a number that did not include those sightings ruled out as fireballs or meteors.  Of those reports, 8 were "Class A," 21 were "Class B," and the rest were listed as "Class C."

The briefing gives instructions for conducting a UFO investigation, including how best to work with other agencies when necessary, such as the RCMP, NRC, Defence Research Board (DRB) or the Department of National Health and Welfare.

Although an attempt was made to plot a geographical distribution of Canadian UFO reports in 1967, no obvious pattern was detected; nor was any significant pattern found between the locations, times, descriptions, and maneuvers--although the document states there was "a small relationship in the size of the UFO contained in a number of reports."

Six cases were deemed worthy of inclusion in the briefing:

  1. The Falcon Lake case of May 20th, 1967, which involved the physical effects of a UFO on Stefan Michalak.  Michalak was hospitalized for several days after receiving severe burns from touching a UFO.  

    According to the document, "Neither the DND nor the RCMP investigation teams were able to provide evidence which could dispute Mr. Michalak's story. Although the investigation has been completed, a satisfactory explanation or conclusion is still lacking."

  2. The Warren Smith photos of July 3rd, 1967.  Smith was reportedly prospecting with two other people in the Rocky Mountain foothills when he took two color photos of a saucer-shaped object flying over some trees.  

    The investigation was concluded by stating "assuming the photograph to be genuine, the UFO fitted the description of the object reported by Mr. Smith."

  3. The Clearwater Bay case of June 18th, 1967.  A Mr. Greene and family were headed home by boat one night near Clearwater Bay when they spotted a domed, disc-shaped object moving above the trees on shore.  Greene piloted the boat towards the object, but retreated when it made a rapid descent towards their vessel.  A second attempt by Greene ended the same way.  The family docked their boat, woke up their neighbors (to whom they were related), and proceeded to watch the object for 15 minutes before it flew away.

    Another neighbor reported their transistor radio as being overwhelmed by static during the incident, and a freshly fallen tree in the area of where the craft hovered was found to have wilted leaves.  The leaves showed no evidence of fungus or blight.

    The investigation was "concluded without any fixed conclusions or findings being made."

  4. Shag Harbour UFO incident of October 5th, 1967.  A dark object, 60 feet wide with four white lights, was said to be moving low over the water before descending rapidly while making a whistling noise.  The object splashed down into the ocean, and a single light remained for a time, prior to disappearing.  

    "An investigation conducted by DND which included an underwater search failed to locate any evidence which could be associated with a UFO. The investigation was concluded without arriving at any fixed findings," the document said.

  5. An unidentified radar return at 1 a.m. on July 7th, 1967.  An unidentified radar target was tracked 70 miles east of Winnipeg through seven sweeps of radar by three controllers and two technicians.  The object increased in speed from 720 knots to 3600 knots in one minute and ten seconds.  The witnesses were certain that the object represented a radar target, and was not due to malfunction.  A second unidentified radar return was made a few hours later.  The object in the latter case was said to separately follow two commercial airliners before disappearing.  The radar returns were not able to be explained.

  6. On August 6th, 1967, several impressions were said by Mr. E. Patrige of Camrose, Alberta, to have been left in the soil by an unknown object.  

    "An investigation conducted by DND substantiated that an unknown object or objects had left six, six-inch width, 31 to 36 diameter circles in the soil," the document said.  "And the impressions indicated distinct pressure. There was no physical evidence of any damage to trees or shrubs in the field and no evidence to suggest a deliberate interference or involvement by any person."

The document concludes by stressing that "due caution be exercised to avoid creating the impression that DND is 'hiding or concealing something,'" and emphasizes the military's difficulty investigating the phenomenon.

"The marked increase in the Air Section (RCAF) administrative workload which is directed towards actioning UFO reports is reaching a stage which is considered detrimental to the primary operational responsibilities and duties of the section," it reads.

"It is important to stress at this point, that the Director of Operations has neither the qualified technical staff, the established strength, nor the necessary scientific assistance required to conduct an objective type investigation into UFO reports."

Rutkowski stated in his blog that he sees the report as a way for the military to shift the responsibility of investigating UFOs to the scientific community.

"The Roberston Briefing was presented in 1967 as a way to move responsibility for UFO reports away from the Canadian military and into Canada's scientific establishment," Rutkowski said.  "One can surmise that a similar discussion took place within the American military at one point as well."

Tobias Wayland