New Brunswick Close Encounter
By Walter N. Webb
Webb, a MUFON consultant in astronomy,
contributes the Journal's monthly Night Sky column.
Note: Since the primary
witness/informant and her mother have requested anonymity, I have assigned
fictitious first and last names to all the witnesses along with their
neighbors in order to prevent any chance at identification. The street along
which the sighting occurred is not identified.
1989 I spent a week on New Brunswick's Grand Manan Island, which is located
in the Bay of Fundy between Maine and Nova Scotia. Measuring 15 by 7 miles,
the scenic island has one main highway (Route 776) on its eastern side
linking half a dozen picturesque fishing villages. The interior and western
side of the island are covered with spruce forest and upland heath and are
largely uninhabited. With the exception of Dark Harbour, the entire west
coast is an inaccessible cliff wall towering some 300 feet high.
On July 6
Mrs. Terence (Roberta) Wheeler of North Head led my companion and me on a
walk along the North Head Fisherman's Wharf. As it happened, we were the only
participants that morning. In referring to some of the legends and mysteries
of Grand Manan, Roberta alluded briefly to balls of light rising from the
ground somewhere on the island. She volunteered that she herself had sighted
something even more mysterious. Other Grand Mananers also had reported
sightings which they didn't like to talk about.
I immediately expressed my interest in her experience. Although somewhat
reluctant and embarrassed, she summarized what appeared to be a UFO close
encounter when she was nine and living in Seal Cove, the island's
southernmost village. A total of eight or nine family members and neighbors
also witnessed the object.
carefully determining that I wasn't "a reporter for the National
Enquirer,'' Roberta agreed to meet me for a more lengthy interview at a later
time. She said she would try to encourage one or more of the others to talk
with me about the sighting, although she couldn't guarantee that anyone else
would be willing. She explained that islanders can be quite provincial and
have a great fear of being ostracized by their neighbors for claiming to see
such things as UFOs. (Sounds familiar!) At my request she agreed to show me
where her encounter took place. Roberta Wheeleris the wife of a fisherman,
the mother of five children and age 32.
later on the 9th Roberta drove to my inn in North Head where we began the
interview. Because of her time constraints, I had only about an hour to meet
with her and drive the 12 miles to her parents' home in Seal Cove, where the
experience occurred. Her parents and family were away at church services.
principal observer told me she spoke with a number of the other witnesses,
but all were unwilling to be interviewed. Roberta and her mother (one of the
observers) remained concerned that I might be connected with an American
tabloid and asked to see my credentials. They didn't want the family's name
in a newspaper. I reassured Roberta that I would not use real names in my
report. Interestingly, her mother-in-law advised her to go ahead with the
interview since the experience had haunted the young woman all these years.
But even Roberta's mother, Bonnie Fenwick, hinted to her that she might be
willing to write down her own recollection of the sighting for me later if I
proved to be a legitimate researcher.
Unfortunately, I was unprepared for a UFO investigation on my vacation
and therefore didn't have my field equipment or tape recorder. I was able to
photograph and sketch the site, however. Soon after I returned home, I wrote
Roberta's mother, enclosing a MUFON sighting form and a bio of myself. I
pointed out that while her daughter's observation details certainly were
important, Roberta was a child of nine when the UFO sighting took place and
thus an adult's recollection of the event would prove extremely valuable.
to hear from Mrs. Fenwick for more than 1 and 1/2 months, I telephoned
Roberta August 31. She reported that her mother received my letter, did
intend to cooperate, and would be reminded "to get on it." Despite
those assurances, as of November 1, I heard nothing from Mrs. Fenwick and
therefore decided to proceed with this report minus the supporting testimony.
is a picturesque little village, the center of which is nestled in a hollow
around a sheltered tidal creek (Seal Cove Brook) lined with wharves and
sheds. The outer harbor is protected by a seawall. Many of the island's
lobster and scallop fishermen make the village their home port, and a sardine
cannery and smoked herring are major industries there.
parents still live on the street where the 1966 UFO encounter happened. The
witness thought she was nine years old at the time, placing the experience in
the year 1966, and she felt that the month was definitely August.
she recalled sitting in the backyard "pouting" about something. The
sky was clear and star-filled, and it was completely dark outside. She had
been outdoors for perhaps a half hour (uncertain) when she spotted high up
(elevation perhaps 60°) in the (southwest) sky a stationary, pulsing, white
light. The time: about 9:30 or 10 (Atlantic Daylight Time?).
watching the star-like light for perhaps 10 to 15 minutes (uncertain),
Roberta reported that the object suddenly dropped from the sky, approaching
her rapidly and within seconds stopping just above a row of spruces behind
their artificial rectangular pond about 300 feet away. (The trees are now
gone, and the pond has been drained.)
described the now large object as a "neon pink line," bright but
not blinding and without any detail or discrete lights on it. When asked to
draw the UFO, Roberta sketched a long thin oval with pointed ends.
in the backyard, the witness thought the craft might kidnap her. But she
remembered what her mother had told her about getting into cars with
strangers. "I had a choice," Roberta explained to me. "Either
I could go aboard that thing or go tell my mother."
child rushed into the house through the back door. Her mother, Bonnie Fenwick,
was on the telephone with Jennifer McCulloch, a friend around the corner on
Church Street (Route 776). Roberta excitedly told Mrs. Fenwick about the
"flying saucer," whereupon her mother instructed Mrs. McCulloch to
go out and see the object. The neighbor's house was west of the pond and in a
good position for someone to observe the UFO.
of the Fenwick family headed for the back door -- Roberta, Mrs. Fenwick,
Grandmother Fenwick, Roberta's sisters Cynthia, age 10, and Shirley, about 5,
and her brother Thomas, 8. Mrs. McCulloch, her son Allen, and a toddler
Marjorie also went outside and observed the object. That meant a total of
eight or nine witnesses.
outdoors first and was surprised to find that the UFO had moved to a point
behind the Robinson’s house to the left (southeast) of the pond. The object
appeared closer and lower and was tilted to reveal a wider oval shape. In
fact, the UFO hovered so close to the neighbor's house that, according to
Roberta it turned the gray shingles on the side of that house pink. She
remembered thinking the house was going to catch fire from the glowing light.
Roberta pointed out the Robinson house to me, I could see that it was three
houses down the street from her parents' place and set farther back than the
other houses toward a meadow that ran from the pond southeastward all the way
to the coastline. She said the object hovered at or below the roofline of the
Robinson house. (A garage now stands below where the UFO hovered.) I judged
that the object would have been about 10 to 20 feet above the ground,
possibly around 200 feet from Roberta, and perhaps 25 to 30 feet in diameter.
(The witness guessed that the object was as long as the roof of the house.)
As the rest
of Roberta's family dashed into the yard, the disc-shaped object backed up
above the meadow and started moving horizontally southeastward roughly
parallel to the street. Roberta ran down her driveway and then turned down
the street to follow the UFO. She saw it pass behind other houses, including
the Sawyers'. As she reached the end of the street, the young witness watched
the object advance toward the shoreline of the island, tilt up at an angle as
it turned right (southward), and then go down behind trees at the shore. Although Roberta thought the
UFO had dropped into the water, she never saw it actually enter the water.
It is just as likely that the object continued southward along the coast. The
point of disappearance is not far south of the Seal Cove Fisherman's Wharf.
youngster ran back to her yard, she was aware that the rest of her family had
observed the UFO. But her grandmother and her mother -- mindful of the
strangeness of their sighting and the possibility of ridicule if they reported
it -- told the young girl that "she never saw it" and should never
tell anyone about what she witnessed.
example of what can happen to someone on the island who reports a UFO,
Roberta told me a woman named Rosalie Harvey "mentioned her sighting to
townspeople and was ostracized for it."
recalled that a couple of nights after her encounter there were reports of
six or seven sightings in an area from south of Seal Cove north to Grand
Harbour. She was unaware of specific details.
witnesses claimed that there were many sightings, or rumors of sightings, of
strange phenomena on the island. She mentioned a ball of fire entering a
house in Castalia during a thunderstorm. (I explained it as ball lightning.)
A swampy area known as "Dog Hollow" emits balls of light. (My
answer was swamp fire or will-o'-the-wisp.) Another time a fisherman near
Cheney Island was rumored to have had some sort of experience that
"turned his hair white overnight," according to my informant.
Roberta Wheeler trusted me enough to
describe some psychic or paranormal phenomena which she has experienced prior
to and after her UFO experience. Before the sighting, she said she had the
ability to see human auras in different colors. Following the UFO encounter,
she was told not to speak of the sighting or about her perception of the
aura. Roberta said she has been unable to see the aura ever since. However,
beginning in her teen years, she said she started having out-of-body
experiences which continue to the present day.
impossible to evaluate this 1966 report fully for a number of reasons -- the
limited time to properly investigate at the site, the unavailability of the
other witnesses, the absence of my field equipment (I was vacationing), and
the age of the encounter (23 years). Of the eight or nine probable witnesses,
I was able to interview only Roberta. On the plus side, however, she would
have had the longest and closest view of the UFO; on the debit side, she was
nine years old when the sighting occurred. It would have been extremely
helpful if I had had an adult's recollection of the experience. But Roberta's
mother failed to respond to my request for her account of the event.
Nevertheless, I was greatly impressed by Roberta, who certainly was
unaware of my own UFO involvement when she first innocently alluded to her
experience. Though at first understandably reluctant to trust a stranger with
her story, she seemed genuinely interested in unburdening herself about this
event which had had an obvious emotional impact throughout her life. The
appearance of the object as a large glowing oval and its behavior (sudden
rapid approach and hovering / moving silently at very low levels in proximity
to dwellings) clearly place the sighting in the UFO category.
account the limited nature of the investigation and other factors (no
supporting testimony, age of the primary witness at the time of the sighting,
age of the sighting itself), I believe the 1966 episode should be classified
as a tentative unknown. I also give it a Paranet/Hynek
Strangeness/Probability Rating of S5/P3 (Highly strange suggesting
intelligent guidance / Somewhat credible or indeterminate).
This reference: The MUFON Journal, No. 262, February 1990, pp. 9-11
UFOCAT PRN – 176548
UFOCAT URN – NONE The MUFON Journal, No. 262, February 1990,
pp. 9-11 (Above)
UFOCAT URN – 176548 *U*
UFO Computer Database by Larry Hatch, # 07317 © 2002
North America – Canada, New Brunswick
Grand Manan Island Latitude
44-42 N, Longitude 66-48 W (D-M)
Bay of Fundy Latitude
45-00 N, Longitude 66-00 W
North Head Latitude
44-46 N, Longitude 66-45 W
Seal Cove Latitude 44-39 N,
Longitude 66-51 W
Although there are two Seal Cove’s the other one,
Latitude 49-56 N, Longitude 56-24 W, doesn’t fit the coordinates of the other
Reference: Canada gazetteer, Prepared in the Office of
Geography, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C., November 1953
UFO Location (UFOCAT) Latitude 44.65 N, Longitude 66.83