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R e :   M o n t r e a l   -   N o v e m b e r   7 ,   1 9 9 0   
 
 Received : 03/03/08  Don LEDGER   
 
 

I would like to ask how you have dealt with the problem of these pool lights being underwater, probably to a depth of between 5 or 8 feet.

Having been a sports diver for some 35 years I can tell you that little focused light escapes the surface of the water when a light is beamed up to the surface. The underside of the water acts like a mirror. Carrying such a beam even further to the cloud base seems implausible to me. The pool lights themselves were likely diffuse and meant only to light within the pool rather than project above the surface. Additionally they would have been sealed in a waterproof transparent recess [for obvious safety reasons] which lens would have further degraded the illumination.

Don LEDGER
Nova Scotia, Canada

[Next to being a sports diver, Don LEDGER is a pilot and a well-known UFO researcher. He authored two books on UFOs and one on the investigation of a 1998 airliner crash that killed 229 people.]


Our reply :

Thanks to Don LEDGER for his pertinent remarks regarding the degradation of the pool-light beams. We considered this point when we prepared our article on the Montreal case, and concluded that the fact of the lights being underwater did not weaken our explanation. Three reasons:

(1) Judging from the time exposures taken by Mr. LAROCHE, the lights over the Bonaventure Hotel were not very bright. This can also be deduced from the fact that none of the witnesses used the word "bright" in his or her description.

(2) The helicopter sequence from the CBC Newswatch broadcast shows the separate pool lights quite clearly.

(3) The cloud base was relatively low : between 3,500 and 4,200 feet (between 1,148 m and 1,377 m).

Especially this last point may have contributed to the quality of the reflected image. Compare this altitude for instance with the altitude of the reflecting cloud base in the case of the reflection photographed by Belgian amateur astronomer Joël BAVAIS at Ath. In this particular case, the spotlights were reflected in an ice-crystal cloud at 22,500 feet !

But most importantly of all, we should keep in mind that what we are dealing with here are images reflected in a cloud of billions of horizontally oriented tiny mirrors, not a beam of light illuminating the base of a cloud deck.

Mr. LEDGER also ran our conclusions about the Montreal incident past Dr. Richard F. HAINES, the principal investigator of the case. In his reply Dr. HAINES writes :

Anyone who understands how light is reflected by small diameter water droplets (cloud, fog) knows that the collection of rain, cloud, fog scatters as the cosign of the incident angle impinging on each particle. Because there are so many microscopic particles the integrated effect is a diffuse area of illumination not separate bright sources as the several eye witnesses here stated (and sketched). There is no way that a single (or many) individual spotlights aiming upward from this hotel roof could reflect back down as separate individual light sources !

As we have stated above and in our evaluation of the case, our attempted explanation holds that the lights over the Bonaventure hotel were caused by light reflecting off of the flat surfaces of ice crystals in high cloud, not by "light reflected by small diameter water droplets". We are not talking about fog, but about ice crystal layers situated at altitudes roughly between 5,000 and 23,000 ft (1,500 and 7,000 m). When there is more than one light source, and the observer is standing close to these lights, the reflected pillar-shaped images will appear to converge near the zenith, creating a star-shape pattern. It is our conviction that this is what happened in Montreal on November 7, 1990.

The mechanism behind this rare optical phenomenon is explained in Chapter 2 of our six part article Light pillars in cirriform clouds.

In a later mail to Don LEDGER, Dr. HAINES gave to understand that he still stands behind the report he and GUENUETTE compiled back in 1992. An attitude that, we think, does not reflect good sportsmanship.

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 Received : 04/15/10  M.R.   
 
 

In April 2010 CAELESTIA was contacted by M.R., a university student from Montreal who prefers to remain anonymous. In his e-mail M.R. explained that, over the last few years, his interest in UFOs had grown and that he had unsuccessfully tried to locate a copy of the HAINES/GUENETTE report. We responded that copies were indeed difficult to find and provided M.R. with a photocopied version of our copy.

In subsequent mails, we learned that, from the early 80s to about 2005, M.R.'s father (H.R.) worked as a crime-scene photographer for the Montreal Police Department and that, perhaps, his father could shed some light on why officer O'Connor, a member of the MUCP's Judicial Identity Department who had been called to the rooftop in order to take additional photos with his 35 mm camera, finally decided not to take any. We quote from an e-mail M.R. sent us on April 15, 2010:

While both my dad and O'Connor worked out of the same department ("ident"), their backgrounds and job descriptions were very different:

Before his work for the police, my father was a long-time freelance photographer. Tons of experience, and (this is key) varied shooting conditions (all types of sports, underwater, from a helicopter,...). Once hired by the department, he was considered a civilian photographer.

On the other hand, O'Connor was a police officer who took part in a four-week (or so) photography training course. This course enabled him to become a crime scene "tech".

While techs had less skill and much less experience with a camera, they were allowed to dust for prints. They were called to scenes where a crime took place (murder, theft) and involved dusting for prints and other types of evidence collection.

Civilian photogs were not trained to collect evidence or dust for prints, but were considered much more trustworthy and skilled with a camera. Therefore, my dad's typical calls were for events like suicides, accidents, drug/weapons busts...

Anyways, my dad thinks that O'Connor's lack of experience or nervousness with his camera could have contributed to his decision not to take any photos (in addition to thick clouds of course).

In later correspondence, M.R. wrote that a check at the Montreal Urban Community Police archives had revealed that the HAINES/GUENETTE report is now being preserved in the police archives.

M.R. further mentions that he spoke to a few ex-policemen about their careers and possible UFO experiences but, unfortunately, none of them directly witnessed the 1990 Montreal lights. Recently, his father too had talked to some of his former colleagues about their memories from the night in question and most, if not all, remember the event. Attempts to interview other retired officers who were at the scene that November night are still being considered and M.R. will keep us up to date if anything new surfaces. H.R. figures maybe those who've retired would be more willing to go on record and share their knowledge.

In the course of our e-mail exchanges with M.R., CAELESTIA expressed the need of obtaining better quality prints of the photos taken by Marcel LAROCHE. Both M.R. and CAELESTIA have tried to contact LAROCHE in this regard, but to no avail. Already in May 2007, CAELESTIA addressed a letter to Dr. Richard F. HAINES, principal author of the Montreal report, in an attempt to obtain high-quality prints or scans of the photos. Unfortunately, no response was received. But the good news is that, at least, one of the original photos was recently published on the Canadian UFO site www.ovni-alerte.com.

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 Received : 06/21/10  Benoit LAUZON   
 
 

First of all, let me compliment you on a very well put website!

About the Montréal lights seen on that November night in 1990:

I remember attending a computer science class in Montréal that evening, and our teacher had told us about this story (it was unfolding at that time, probably it was mentioned on a live radio or TV show). When I drove back home (Ville de Lorraine at the time, on the north shore), as I was on chemin de la Grande-Côte heading west (it must have been near or past 22:00h), the sky on my left side (direction of Montréal) lit up very brightly in a blue hue twice (there was a pause of a few seconds between the flashes). At first, I thought that an electrical transformer exploded in a street nearby, but there was no sound. When the second flash came, I noticed that the blue light extended pretty widely, and it didn't seem localized. It looked much more like lightning, only bluer, and lasted a few seconds each.

That's it as far as what I saw with my own eyes. The next morning, my mother woke me up and told me to turn on my radio. There were hotlines and several people describing what they had witnessed from several areas on and around the island (mostly bright lights in the cloudy sky). One of my mother's coworkers also mentioned that her young boy kept bugging her about a "spaceship in the sky" as she was driving near the Olympic stadium that evening. She said she thought he was talking about the stadium itself (looks more like a toilet seat to me), so she never bothered looking.

My views: Unless all of this is coincidental and/or the testimonies of sightings far from the hotel area where false, maybe more than the swimming poolís spotlights where at play.

The weather was very particular that night, and I'm wondering if the source of all this could be of electrical nature, like static charge accumulating in the clouds? And I'm wondering, that perhaps, the flashes I saw where the clouds finally discharging, putting an end to this light show (although pretty unusual for lightning at that time of year)?

Anyway, this is my little anecdote of strange lights in a November sky, hoping it might be of slight interest.

Sincerely,

Benoit LAUZON
Montréal, Canada


Our reply :

We are always delighted to receive new testimonies about old and widely discussed UAP reports.

With regard to Mr. LAUZONís suggestion that the flashes he witnessed were perhaps cloud-to-cloud lightning, below is a summary of the meteorological data that can be found on p. 21 of the HAINES & GUENETTE report:

The cloud ceiling was 3,400 feet between 9:30 and 11;00 p.m., with a layer of scattered clouds at 3,000 feet. At 10:00 p.m. the clouds were developing into very opaque, thick snow clouds. At Dorval airport light snow began to fall at 10:21 and continued for several hours.

According to meteorologist Joel BARTLETT, who supplied HAINES & GUENETTE with most of the weather data for their 1992 report "no lightning was reported at any time in the entire region".

So this would rule out lightning as an explanation for the blue flashes, or at least make this possibility unlikely.

As for the flashes being caused by explosions from an electrical transformer, there is this on p. 5 of the report drafted by HAINES & GUENETTE:

"A power failure (hors tension) was experienced on November 7, 1990 between 11:08 and 11:50 at the Longue-Pointe Military Base (LPMB). The base is fed by a 12,000 volt lead from the Hydro-Quebec Longue-Pointe power station. It is the only one which broke down". (We assume that the authors were referring to p.m. when they wrote "11:08" and "11:50".)

Video mages of electric arcs and switch failures can be viewed in this YouTube video (and related videos).

Is it possible that the blue flashes witnessed by Mr. LAUZON were light effects caused by a breakdown of a transformer at this military base? Longue Pointe is at a distance of about 20 km (11 miles) from the chemin de la Grande-Côte. Visibility on November 7, 1990 was 15 miles, so that would not be a problem.

We asked Mr. LAUZON if it would be possible to provide us with estimates of the elevation of the blue hue and the horizontal angle subtended by the phenomenon. His response is published further down this page as a separate visitorís response.

Reflected images from lights sources that are not, or only partly shielded on top are known to cause reports of strange lights in the sky from time to time (these can be pillar-shaped mirrored images in translucent ice-crystal clouds - see our photo gallery on lightpillars - or, more commonly, circular areas of light on the base of opaque stratiform or cumuliform clouds - see this example. In the Montreal case, the snow cloud that developed at about the same time the lights over the Bonaventure Hotel disappeared, may have provided an excellent screen for poorly shielded lights to reflect upon. Perhaps atmospheric reflections can also account for the "spaceship in the sky" mentioned by the boy who was in the car with his mother driving near the Olympic Stadium. Photos of mirrorred images from spotlights bordering a sports stadium can be found in this case example.

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 Received : 07/01/10  Benoit LAUZON   
 
 

Thanks for your detailed reply. I had forgotten about the Longue Pointe power failure. If indeed a transformer arced there, it must have been a big one because the base is located in Hochelaga on the Montréal island, and I had Laval and most of Montréal between it and me. I wish I still had my university schedules, so I could have a better estimate of the time at which I've seen the flashes. But past 22:00h or 23:00h seems at least in the ball park (I remember I came in too late for the 22:00h news). My class was incidentally in downtown Montréal, not very far from the Hilton, but I didn't see nothing out of the ordinary in the sky when I exited the building.

As for the extend of the light in the sky while I was driving on the North shore, I would say at least 40-45 degrees. Maybe even more: The sky became very bright well above the houses and trees on my left, and very bright even in front of me in the top left portion of the windshield. Very much like a very big lightning strike several kilometres away.

Maybe it was simply a transformer in the area, but every time I've experienced one of these bursting, the emitted light tended to look like a smaller hemisphere, you could almost pinpoint the source.

The light pillar explanation is probably the best one so far (my brother and sister actually saw such phenomenon over Mont-Royal, visible from Ville de Lorraine on a summer day years ago). I wish there was a higher quality version of the picture from La Presse, not scanned from the newspaper page, floating around.

Anyways, it did provoke a lot of chatter the next day on the radio shows, and people saw stuff happening not only from the vicinity of the Hotel, but also from Verdun (I think there are one or two recordings on the net).

Thanks, and again, good job on your very thorough website,

Benoit LAUZON
Montréal, Canada


Our reply :

The additional info provided by Mr. LAUZON regarding the location and angular width of the blue flashes, definitely rules out a transformer failure at the Longue Pointe Military Base. A distance of 11 miles would have placed the flashes close to the horizon from where Mr. LAUZON was and not in front of the car (and certainly not "in the top left portion of the windshield"). Also, their angular width would have covered only a couple of degrees of the sky, not "at least 40-45 degrees".

Unfortunately, the very nature of the sighting (short duration, diffuse shape, incident dating back to 1990) makes it impossible to properly evaluate this report. Whether or not the blue flashes were in any way related to what was seen in other parts of the region that night is uncertain. Perhaps an unusually high reflectivity of the clouds (billions of snow or ice crystals falling down with their longer axis horizontally) caused poorly shielded lights in and around the city of Montreal to reflect brightly off of the clouds. The light sources responsible for these atmospheric reflections can be numerous (badly shielded spotlights illuminating sport fields and buildings, outdoor welding activities, headlights of cars driving uphill, etcÖ).

Although HAINES & GUENETTE mention that none of the people they contacted at the Longue Pointe base had noticed anything unusual in the sky on November 7th, the authors do mention that a 31 year old witness, Mr. Pierre CAUMARTIN, saw some "very odd lights" near Longue Pointe that night. While driving home from work between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m., Mr. CAUMARTIN noticed what he described as "a strange luminous object in a boomerang shape" with "very big and strong" lights flying towards then hovering near the Hydro Québec, Longue Pointe power station (p. 5 of the HAINES & GUENETTE report). The witness made two sketches of the phenomenon:

Montreal-CAUMARTIN-sketch

Mr. CAUMARTINís sketch of the unusual "object" he spotted near the Longue Pointe power station. First when driving toward the station (left); then as seen while it hovered over the station.

The report states that the total sighting duration was 10 to 15 minutes but it is not mentioned how the phenomenon disappeared.

Power stations usually have a great number of spotlights illuminating the surroundings and perhaps their light was being reflected back to the ground by airborne snow or ice crystals. The eastward movement of the lights during the first phase of the sighting (i.e. when Mr. CAUMARTIN was driving in the direction of Longue Pointe), followed by a stand-still near the power station at the same moment the witness stopped his car, makes one wonder if the reported manoeuvres were not merely an illusion due to the witness observing the phenomenon from a moving vehicle (much like a distant, "stationary" light source such as the Moon appears to be travelling alongside your car when you watch it through the side window of the vehicle). Unfortunately, the HAINES & GUENETTE report contains not enough details that enable us to confirm or reject this possibility.

A typical feature of the November 7 phenomena is that almost all the witnesses reported seeing stationary lights in the night sky in close proximity to places where there were spotlights (be it the swimming pool at the Bonaventure Hotel, the electrical power station at Longue Pointe or the Olympic Stadium). Moreover, all witnesses described these lights as hovering in or close to the cloud base. We think that these circumstances in themselves are indicative of a weather related optical phenomenon rather than of a material contraption with lamps attached to it.

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 Received : 01/12/11  Stéphane TURCOTTE   
 
 

While looking for more information about the November 7, 1990 events in Montreal, I found your very interesting web site.

You might be interested to know that something similar occurred in Montreal again during the night December 16 to 17, 2010, but this time right over the Montreal Casino.

www.ovni-alerte.com is investigating. However, they don't seem to favor the natural phenomenon explanation.

I have no connection with them, I just thought you might find this information interesting.

Thanks.

Stéphane TURCOTTE
Québec, Canada



Our reply:

It is us who should thank Mr. TURCOTTE for calling our attention to this unexpected and most important development. These recent sightings unquestionably confirm our assessment of the 1990 incident. In consequence, we immediately added an extra page to our initial article.

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