Something strange happened in the Falcon Lake wilderness 54-years ago to the day, when Canada’s most-well documented Unidentified Flying Object incident was reported only about an hour away from Kenora.
On the afternoon of May 20, 1967, mechanic and former military policeman Stephen Michalak was searching for a quartz vein as an amateur prospector in the Whiteshell Provincial Park near Falcon lake, MB, when he was startled by agitated geese nearby.
Michalak then allegedly saw two unidentified flying objects in the sky – one of which he said touched down about 45 metres away. After spending a half-hour sketching the saucer-shaped object, he began to approach it.
Suddenly, Michalak says the object took off in the air, expelling heat, which set his shirt and cap on fire. He was then transported to a Winnipeg hospital where he was examined and treated for severe burns on his upper abdomen.
The story spread quickly, with investigations being conducted by the RCMP, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the United States Air Force, the Federal Department of Health, the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization and the Department of National Defence.
The area’s soil and Michalak’s clothes were determined to be highly radioactive, various other symptoms similar to radiation poisoning were documented over the following weeks and years, and no agency could ever determine what caused Michalak’s burns.
Investigators later discovered a piece of radioactive metal melted into a rock at the site in 1968. The landing site was also found to be devoid of moss and vegetation when compared to nearby areas.
“Both the DND and RCMP investigation teams were unable to provide evidence which would dispute Michalak’s story,” wrote the Department of National Defence, in an undated letter to Michalak.
The Royal Canadian Mint commemorated the story in 2018 with a special glow-in-the-dark coin depicting the alleged events. A yearly gathering is usually held in the Whiteshell for UFO enthusiasts to gather and discuss their research. It wasn't held due to COVID-19.
Chris Rutkowski, a Winnipeg-based UFO researcher who co-wrote a book with Michalak’s son on the incident in 2017, is also an organizer of UFOlogy Research Manitoba, who has been collecting and analyzing reports of UFO’s in Canada since 1989.
In 2020, UFOlogy researchers say there were 1,243 sightings of possible UFO’s in Canada, which averages out to about three per day. Rutkowski has said UFO reports filed in Canada have increased by 46 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic as more residents spend more time outdoors.
On average, UFOlogy says there’s an average of two witnesses per UFO sighting, which typically last about 15 minutes each. After their 2017 study, researchers said about 13 percent of UFO sightings in Canada each year are considered unexplained, as many are traced back to aircraft or satellites.
Almost as strange as Michalak's story, the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup earlier that month in May of 1967.