Impact to Contact – The Shag Harbour UFO Case Re-Examined

impactby Ron Foley Macdonald

A strange anniversary is coming for Nova Scotians in 2017. You might even say that it’s “out of this world.”

I am referring, of course, to the 50th commemoration of the Shag Harbour UFO Incident.

Steeped in controversy and the subject of debate by debunkers, believers and those undecided people somewhere in between, Canada’s most famous UFO event has been the subject of various seminars, presentations, and a continued discourse spread across several documentaries. It’s even been blessed with an official stamp from Canada Post!

For anyone who would like to dive into the subject, Impact to Contact: The Shag Harbour Incident, is the definitive book available. Veteran UFO researchers Chris Styles and Graham Simms have collected up all the available evidence, including a dive report from 2009 by David Cvet, to make a powerful case that something very strange indeed happened in and around Nova Scotiaès South Shore on the night of October 4th, 1967.

I will be the first to admit that I must agree with the authors. I was seven years old on that night when several of my friends and I witnessed the event in Rockingham, just outside the Halifax, right next to Mount Saint Vincent University. For me it was mostly an audio event, but it was scary enough to make me crawl under a car in a neighbour’s driveway while my friends scattered. Ever since, I’ve wondered what exactly happened.

In Impact To Contact, you find every angle approached and each fact dissected. The unique two-author approach allows the subject to be looked at from differing views. Styles is the tough, relentless fact accumulator, whereas Simms stakes out larger, more speculative territory, including New Age and Paranormal explorations that introduce influential figures such as the Harvard researcher John Mack and French theorist Jacques Vallee.

What emerges from Impact To Contact, which is well-written and zips along at a steady pace, is a comprehensive view of what is now considered Canada’s “Roswell.” The book does a good job of presenting the basic facts of the Shag Harbour incident, namely that something unidentified flew over the Nova Scotia coast and eventually went into the ocean on a warm, clear night in the fall of 1967. The book states that Canadian Navy divers observed the vessel undergoing repairs, and that further witnesses saw it leave. No film footage has ever been located of the alleged underwater events around the repair and relaunch of the craft.

Perhaps the most important thing about the book are the strands of information that have never been put together before. Styles, for example, has interviewed two airplane crews from a cargo flight that may have encountered the Shag Harbour UFO the night before it might have crashed into the ocean. There’s also the recent revelations that the Chronicle Herald reporter who covered the front-page story at the time, Ray MacLeod, was shut down by his editor, David Bentley, after MacLeod had already reported on the story.


What people saw in the Nova Scotian skies and water in 1967 remains a mystery. Indeed, the subjects of UFOs in particular and the Paranormal in general remain a contested area where the popular imagination often goes up on the rocks of academia, the military, and whatever else constitutes what we used to call ‘The Authorities’ these days.

Impact To Contact, however, provides such an exhaustive examination of the Shag Harbour UFO incident that it makes deniability very difficult to sustain. The book also moves its subject towards interpretation and understanding, posing more questions than answers in this regard and encouraging readers to think outside the proverbial box.

Anyone intrigued by UFOs and Paranormal will want to check out Impact To Contact. Dedicated ufologists in particular will consider Styles and Simms’s book to be essential reading, providing the context and foundation for investigations going forward.

Ron Foley Macdonald

Ron Foley Macdonald

Ron Foley Macdonald is a filmmaker, musician, author, and arts journalist who lives in Halifax, NS. He has written for such publications as the Halifax Daily News, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, and Take One. He taught film history for 15 years at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and has also taught at Dalhousie University and Mount Saint Vincent University. For two decades he was the Senior Programmer at the Atlantic Film Festival. He is currently the curator of the film and video series at the Dalhousie Art Gallery, and the producer of the recent feature films Exit Thread and Roundabout.
Ron Foley Macdonald

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2 thoughts on “Impact to Contact – The Shag Harbour UFO Case Re-Examined

  • May 10, 2016 at 7:43 am

    Nice article, Ron, thanks for sharing …It’s a fascinating case.

    Do you have any idea where Impact to Contact can be purchased? I’m keen to buy the book, but It’s not available in UK stores. Nor have I been able to find a copy online (the Arcadia House site is no longer functioning, it seems).

    Thank you.

    • May 10, 2016 at 9:42 pm

      From the publisher:

      “The domain was down for a couple days but it should be back up tomorrow. The. Com and. CA should both be working tomorrow.”

      – Paul


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