Skip to content

Project Magnet, 1954

Posted on:June 1, 1954 at 12:00 AM

Wilbert Brockhouse Smith made a request to use the facilities of the Department of Transport to study UFOs. The project was formally approved on December 2, 1950, with the intention to collect data about UFOs and apply any recovered data to practical engineering and technology.

Memo to the controller of telecommunications

For the past several years we have been engaged in the study
of various aspects of radio wave propagation. The vagaries of this
phenomenon have led us into the fields of aurora, cosmis radiation,
atmospheric radio-activity and geo-magnetism. In the case of
geo-magnetics our investigations have contributed little to our knowledge
of radio wave propagation as yet, but nevertheless have indicated several
avenues of investigation which may well be explored with profit. For example, we are on the track of a means whereby the potential energy of
the earth’s magnetic field may be abstracted and used.

On the basis of theoretical considerations a small and very
crude experimental unit was constructed approximately a year ago and
tested in our Standards Laboratory. The tests were essentially successful in that sufficient energy was abstracted from the earth’s field to operate a voltmeter, approximately 50 milliwatts. Although this unit was far from being self-sustaining, it nevertheless demonstrated the soundness of the
basic principles in a qualitative manner and provided useful data for the
design of a better unit.

The design has now been completed for a unit which should be
self-sustaining and in addition provide a small surplus of power. Such a
unit, in addition to functioning as a `pilot power plant’ should be large
enough to permit the study of the various reaction forces which are
expected to develop.

We believe that we are on the track of something which may
well prove to be the introduction to a new technology. The existence of a different technology is borne out by the investigations which are being
carried on at the present time in relation to flying saucers.

While in Washington attending the NARB Conference, two books
were released, one titled “Behind the Flying Saucer” by Frank Scully, and
the other “The Flying Saucers are Real” by Donald Keyhoe. Both books dealt mostly with the sightings of unidentified objects and both books claim that flying objects were of extra-terrestrial origin and might well
be space ships from another planet. Scully claimed that the preliminary studies of one saucer which fell into the hands of the United States Government indicated that they operated on some hitherto unknown magnetic principles. It appeared to me that our own work in geo-magnetics might well be the linkage between our technology and the technology by which the saucers are designed and operated. If it is assumed that our geo-magnetic investigations are in the right direction, the theory of operation of the saucers becomes quite straight forward, with all observed features explained qualitatively and quantitatively.

I made discreet enquiries through the Canadian Embassy staff
in Washington who were able to obtain for me the following information:

I was further informed that the United States authorities are
investigating along quite a nubmer of lines which might possibly be
related to the saucers such as mental phenomena and I gather that they are not doing too well since they indicated that if Canada is doing anything
at all in geo-magnetics they would welcome a discussion with suitably accredited Canadians.

While I am not yet in a position to say that we have solved
even the first problems in geo-magnetic energy release, I feel that the
correlation between our basic theory and the available information on saucers checks too closely to be more coincidence. It is my honest
opinion that we are on the right track and are fairly close to at least
some of the answers.

Mr. Wright, Defence Research Board liaison officer at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, was extremely anxious for me to get in touch with Doctor Solandt, Chairman of the Defence Research Board, to discuss with him future investigations along the line geo-magnetic energy

I do not feel that we have as yet sufficient data to place before Defence
Research Board which would enable a program to be initiated within that
organization, but I do feel that further research is necessary and I
would prefer to see it done within the frame work of our own organization
with, of course, full co-operation and exchange of information with other
interested bodies.

I discussed this matter fully with Doctor Solandt, Chairman
of Defence Research Board, on November 20th and placed before him as much
information as I have been able to gather to date. Doctor Solandt agreed
that work on geo-magnetic energy should go forward as rapidly as possible
and offered full co-operation of his Board in providing laboratory
facilities, acquisition of necessary items of equipment, and specialized
personnel for incidental work in the project. I indicated to Doctor
Solandt that we would prefer to keep the project within the Department of
Transport for the time being until we have obtained sufficient information to permit a complete assessment of the value of the work.

It is therefore recommended that a PROJECT be set up within
the frame work of this Section to study this problem and that the work be
carried on a part time basis until such time as sufficient tangible
results can be seen to warrant more definitive action. Cost of the
program in its initial stages are expected to be less than a few hundred
dollars and can be carried by our Radio Standards Lab appropriation.

Attached hereto is a draft of terms of reference for such a
project which, if authorized, will enable us to proceed with this research work within our own organization.

Goal of project

The ultimate goal of the project was to apply any findings on the subject of geomagnetism to the possibility of exploiting Earth’s magnetic field as a source of propulsion for vehicles. Smith and his colleagues in government believed that UFOs, if real, might hold the key to this new source of power. A small-scale undertaking, the project used DOT facilities, with some assistance from personnel at the Defence Research Board (DRB) and the National Research Council. In June 1952 Smith issued a preliminary report arguing that UFOs likely came from intelligent, extraterrestrial sources and almost certainly manipulated magnetism for flight. A 1953 report reiterated these conclusions. Also in April 1952 the Canadian government established Project Second Storey, a parallel UFO research project, with Smith also involved. It consisted of a group of scientists and military officers who met periodically to consider the UFO question and to recommend government action. Smith reported to Second Storey on some of Project Magnet’s findings and conclusions

Project Second Storey

In 1952, the Canadian government formed a second UFO program called Project Second Storey, in which Smith was also involved, and in the meantime the station at Shirley’s Bay apparently had some success, as well. On August 8, 1954, Smith and his team reportedly picked up readings on their equipment of something flying overhead that did not match up with the signatures from any known aircraft. Unfortunately, at the time heavy fog prevented them from actually seeing what it was or photographing it, and the whole incident would be classified. By this time, Smith was starting to derail a bit. He began to claim that he was actually in telepathic contact with aliens, who he called the “Space Brothers” and “The Boys from Topside,” and that their ships were controlled through psychic powers. He also said that the aliens had told him that the speed of light is not constant, and that their craft were powered by gravitational forces, further claiming that he had top-secret evidence that all of this was true. Such high-profile and controversial claims were seen as a bit of an embarrassment by the Canadian government. Project Magnet would stop being funded by the government in 1954, but would soldier on with private funding, and Smith would do alright for himself, becoming superintendent of Radio Regulations Engineering for all of Canada in 1957.

Shirley’s Bay

Smith would continue to use Shirley’s Bay and claim that the both the American and Canadian governments had alien technology all the way up to his death in 1962. His files and personal research were hidden away by his wife, not getting out into the open until the 1970s. It has since been picked apart again and again, and it is hard to say whether this guy actually knew what he was talking about or if he was perhaps a bit off his rocker. He was certainly qualified in his field, and did have access to secrets and UFO research, but was he really disclosing or was this delusional rantings? Whatever the case may be, Smith remains a prominent feature on the landscape of UFOs in Canadian history, and his story is a weird account that perhaps should not be dismissed entirely.