Go Back Report # 350


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.           


       In July 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.

       Of course, 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.

       After 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.

       Three days 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.

       The 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.

       After failing 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. 

The Encounter

       Seal Cove 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.

       Roberta's 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.

       One evening 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?).

       After 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.)

       The woman 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.

       Still alone 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."

       Quickly the 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.

       Six members 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.

       Roberta ran 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.

       When 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.

       When the 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.

       As an 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."

       Roberta 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.

       The 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. 


       It is 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.

       Taking into 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 sites.

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 W (D.%) 


Print this Page