In February of 2019, I traveled to Toronto, Canada to attend a Peter Murphy concert and explore a remarkable mystery – a UFO landing case in urban Toronto.
Pete was as dramatic and intense as you might expect and his former Bauhaus bandmate David J was a welcome addition on bass. Standing amongst the many appreciative “goths” in the sold-out venue, it was good to see other Bauhaus fans in my home and native land.
The next morning was a holiday in Canada (“Family Day”) and there was a thick layer of snow covering the streets. Most of downtown seemed eerily quiet. There were few cars on the road as I dug mine out of a snow bank and headed to the alleged landing site.
The Toronto UFO Landing of 1958
Many years ago, I read about a UFO experience involving a young man and his family in 1950s Toronto. The story is one of the most intriguing UFO “close encounter of the 3rd kind” cases I have come across. It has a bit of everything; a UFO landing, “conversation” with UFO occupants, missing time & likely abduction, a craft with spinning light and claims of time travel. The “Oz factor” and high strangeness are uncanny.
The story was related to writer John Robert Colombo by David Harris, a Toronto musician who witnessed the May, 1958 incident as a boy (for references to the case, check out “UFOs Over Canada” by John Robert Colombo, 1991, Hounslow Press,).
What really happened that day is still one of the greatest mysteries of my life”.– David Harris, Toronto UFO Witness
Toronto has long been a multi-cultural center and Harris grew up in a family of mixed heritage – Afro-American, German and Irish (1). In May of 1958, the family lived above a Chinese laundry at 1253 Queen Street East. The 2nd floor apartment had a balcony where one could see Lake Ontario. It also overlooked a field and small apple orchard to the left.
The small orchard was owned by an elderly lady who used to discourage kids from trespassing. The neighborhood kids called her “the witch” and the treed area became known as the “Witches Orchard”.
The young David Harris plucked up enough courage to ask the lady why she wouldn’t let kids hang around and she sternly replied the orchard belonged to her. But after that, she stopped chasing him away. They even became friends, “but at a distance”. David says of the property:
“I discovered in the field, where the ship landed, there was a patch of land, a plateau actually, where no new grass grew at all. There was no dirt there. The soil on this plateau was burnt to a crisp. I used to investigate the ground with a stick or a piece of wood when I played in the field. I would dig down into burnt soil to see how far down the soil was burnt, but I could never find moist soil” (Ibid, page 183).
The spot sounds reminiscent of other UFO physical trace sites such as the 1971 case at Delphos Kansas where soil became water-resistant and mostly lifeless (2) after a UFO hovered close to the ground and left a ring-like impression. Earth in this part of Toronto is noted in an AECOM report to be partially contaminated by industry (3) but the soil described by David Harris sounds unnaturally dry and barren like Delphos.
Close to Victoria Day, one afternoon in May of 1958, Harris went out on the balcony to find his mother sitting and brother playing. Suddenly, a bright light appeared in the sky to the left. It grew larger and came down in the field beside the Witches’ Orchard.
“Mom and I couldn’t believe it. It looked like a craft and it had a bright light like a searchlight. The craft landed neatly into position in the field. I even remember the spinning of the light when it landed. Then the light stopped spinning and went off like a flashbulb… after the craft landed in the field, my Mom and I and Steve (David’s brother) just stood there, not knowing what to do next. Then an even stranger thing happened. Two people came out of the field. One was a lady and one was a man, and they looked up at us. The first thing my Mom said was, I recall, ‘Those people are from that thing’. The two people walked up the lane towards Queen Street. Right then and there my mom said, ‘we are going to follow them and find out where they are going’…” (Ibid, pages 178-179).
The mother and two children rushed out heading East on Queen but failed to see the couple. Then they spotted the visitors inside a shop talking to the owner. David’s mother pondered what to do next and decided to send her eldest son to buy popsicles and get a better look.
Inside the store, the “red-faced” owner stood behind the counter and seemed shocked when the boy walked in. The couple looked human and very Marvel super-hero-like, with high boots, grey uniforms and big black belts. The man was tall with sandy-blonde hair; the woman had a slender frame. Her hair was long and black and David noted her suit was “sort of transparent but not tight-fitting”. As odd as they looked, David received good vibes from the couple. He didn’t have the urge to run, even though the man was between him and the door.
The woman was asking questions about everything, including cigarettes on the shelf. She asked the store owner about the boy and things became stranger still:
“He told her that I lived down the street but didn’t come into the store too much. He added that I was a good boy, a nice boy. But I still have a problem with what he told her. What I feel the store owner really told her was, ‘This is the boy you are looking for’.” (Ibid, page 180).
She turned to David and initiated conversation. “She said they were ‘time travelers’ or something like that”, David remembers. He also held the impression the visitors were telepathic (had mind-reading powers).
David was not a religious person but the woman told him one day he would “know’ about Jesus. She also knew David associated them with the UFO and asked if he wanted to go aboard.
Although David was willing to go with them, the tall man interrupted in another language and seemed to point out the boy’s family were outside.
She turned back to the boy, “well, I can’t take you right now but what about letting me come back someday and then take you with me?” David said okay and went out to his family.
Outside, everything seemed strange:
“There was no traffic at the time. Everything was quiet. This was odd in itself. In our area there was always some kind of traffic but it seemed as if time had stood still while we were in the store”, says David (Ibid, page 181). *
His mother told him they would wait until the people came out. Five minutes later the couple emerged and started up Queen, heading back to the field and ship.
They stopped and waited for the young family to catch up, then asked David’s mother if she wanted to see the “spaceship”. The mother was a little apprehensive but answered, “well the boys would”. She then told the pair they looked like they were dressed for Hallowe’en.
This was the last thing David remembers before waking up that evening back at the apartment. Mrs. Harris was roused at the same time, looking spacey with her hair messed up. She asked her son, “who were those people? Do you think they are from here?” (Ibid, page 182)
David was “out of it”. He was seeing symbols – triangles, pillars and crosses – as images going through his head. Oddly enough, Perry Como was on the TV singing “Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket… come along with me, I am on my way to the stars”.
The concept of “missing time” was new in the 1950s and became a common element in later UFO abduction cases. David had no memory of seeing the craft close-up or how his family got home. After his mother passed away, Harris became very anxious trying to remember what happened. He began suffering from what he called the “missing time condition”.
Sometimes the anxiety “spells” would last for months, forcing David to seek help. He ended up seeing a psychiatrist who is known to have worked with abduction victims; Dr. Gotlib is Toronto physician who does not assume UFO abductees are crazy but helps them thru trauma.
Despite all the stress, Harris describes the actions of UFO occupants in positive terms with words like “love” in the Colombo piece. He thinks they have an advanced understanding of nature and believes the occupants could help humanity, just like other fifties contactees who spoke of the well-meaning ‘space brothers’.
To say David was merely having a child’s daydream influenced by the1950s Flying Saucer craze, one has contend with the fact other witnesses saw the UFO and occupants, including his brother Stephen, who according to David, discussed the incident with him many years later. As an adult, David asked his father about UFOs over the Queen Street East neighborhood and was told it was not uncommon. Unless the story turns out to be a hoax, something highly strange happened to the Harris family in 1958.
It is my understanding that few ufologists have heard of the case but it seems to encompass many related areas such as physical traces, time effects and abductions.
“To me these people seemed to be from a different time, the future perhaps because of the way they dressed and acted… I know I met them more than once…. They are highly evolved in the use of the mind. They know how to use telepathy and telekinetics…. I still have information about them buried within my subconscious mind. I could be programmed by them, but not in a bad way”.– David Harris, Toronto UFO Witness, Ibid, page 184)
My Initial “Investigation”
This case has fascinated me for many reasons. The possibility of time travel is wonderful to consider. Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking once said that time travel to the past was unlikely due to causality. He conceived a rule called the ‘chronology protection conjecture’ to close the door on backward time travel and said we should be visited by “hoards of tourists” from the future if it were possible (4). But I wonder if the “tourists” as such, are actually in UFOs!
So does an anthropologist from Montana tech, Michael P. Masters, who considers this possibility as well:
Time travel or not, people have been observing unidentified aerial phenomena for a long time and the many military sightings such as the “Tic Tac UFO” are compelling cases (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentagon_UFO_videos). It makes one think there is more to UFOs than misidentified phenomena and top-secret manmade modern technology.
Another reason I am fascinated by this case is there is something very sincere in the account given by David Harris. He painstakingly tries to elucidate what happened, all the while being cognizant of how “crazy” it all must sound. It remained a mystery for the man through life.
Although I like to research available literature, I’m not normally a field investigator. Yet I was so fascinated by the case, I had to visit the sighting locale. In the early morning of February 18th, 2019 I headed to 1253 Queen Street East, the location of the former Chinese laundry. It’s in an area of Toronto known as “Leslieville”.
After downing extra coffee and arriving at the scene, I was soon walking about snapping pictures. I saw some old trees that might have been part of the “Witches’ Orchard”, which is now The Maple Leaf Forever Park. I had trouble reconciling the back of the 1253 Queen Street East building with a place that had balconies but had to remind myself that the incident took place 60 years prior and much can change. I later discovered the present structure was erected in 1979 (5).
The maple tree that inspired the famous song, “The Maple Leaf Forever”, is a short trip around the corner and had been felled by a wind storm only 6 years prior (fortunately, a sapling of the tree survived and was planted in the park in back). But as I passed by the remaining stump and headed to the corner, a complete stranger approached me and mentioned he thought the house next to the Forever tree was “haunted” (for information on the house, see https://www.torontogardens.com/2009/06/secret-garden-maple-cottage.html/).
The man was out working with his snow shovel and noticed a stranger looking around. He said “hello” and was not shy in telling me how he had seen “paranormal” things going on one night – a ghostly figure appeared in the cottage doorway. I told him about the UFO and the “Witches’ orchard”. He was unaware of the case but didn’t seem too surprised. In fact, he thought the whole area was haunted – there was high strangeness all around! Further research would reveal that Leslieville has its fair share of hauntings and paranormal phenomena, including doors that open and close by themselves, phantom footsteps and mysterious smells of burning orchards (6).
David Harris said, “I think the witch’s orchard was a good landing spot for the UFO because it was close enough to the population so that the occupants could get people to examine or to contact. It was hidden, especially at night. You would have to travel down a dark lane to get to the orchard. The UFO people could get to the street quickly and back to the ship quickly”.
I still don’t know what to make of this sidewalk meeting. Many people in Toronto avoid strangers but I appreciated the friendly chat. It was a chance meeting and sort of synchronistic. I can’t remember precisely but was likely wearing the black clothing I wore at the Peter Murphy concert the night before. I wasn’t considering it at the time but might have resembled one of the infamous “Men in Black” (MIB)!
Search for the Shop
I continued down Queen East looking for the store David first met and spoke to the couple. In the Colombo account, the young family went searching for the couple by walking East on Queen. They “passed 4 houses” and came upon an empty storefront. David says, “the only place open that day was a store across the street” and this is where they spotted the ufonauts.
I walked East from 1253 and passed what might have been four or so homes then looked across the street. There were commercial buildings but I couldn’t see a storefront that resembled the one described by David. I wondered if time had again played a role in changing the cityscape. “The store had two front windows and the entrance to the store was between them”, says David Harris (Ibid, page 179). I later found a Toronto archives photo of such a store at 1284 Queen Street East, from 1929:
1284 Queen Street East is now gone and the store-front numbers go directly from 1278 and jump to 1286. Things really do change around here! A time traveler wouldn’t even recognize this part of the street and might have to ask for directions!
Strange Couples and Men in Black
The alleged “abductors” are not the typical aliens we have come to associate with UFO abduction in modern North America. The couple seems to have more in common with 1950s contactee descriptions and, at least for the tall male, the Nordic aliens often described in European UFO occupant sightings. Like the couple described by David Harris, human-like occupants often seem like strangers from another place and often use telepathy to communicate (for example, the 1966 Parkersburg, West Virginia UFO encounter with the “smiling man” Indrid Cold who used telepathy to converse with witness Woodrow Derenberger).
Similar strange couple cases are described in UFO researcher Richard Dolan’s 2014 book, UFOS for the 21st Century Mind (7). In two cases, very attractive blonde-haired couples are ‘heard’ by a normal human individual telepathically. They seem aware of the listener and able to read the listeners’ mind. One case takes place in Las Vegas where a retired US air force colonel “hears” the thoughts of an attractive blonde he notices. “Don’t bother with me. You have no business here”, she telepaths. A blonde male companion joins her and they walk past the colonel. The retired military man wants to engage them in conversation but is unable to speak. He hears her again, this time telepathically saying to her partner, “he has no need to know about us, he will not know”.
Another case in Dolan’s book involves a young girl who lived in Pennsylvania in the 1960s. She goes to church with her family and is drawn to a strange yet attractive blonde-haired couple who are sitting in front wearing matching blue suits. A fashion enthusiast, the young girl notices their clothing is “perfectly” put together. She notices they are unfamiliar with the Catholic religious rituals and is able to monitor their conversation telepathically; the female says to the male “she can hear us”. The girl runs after the couple once church is out and follows them over a hill. She sees them heading into a wooded area but then a third mysterious figure emerges. He is tall, wears a hat and is dressed all in black. Because he looks intimidating and foreboding, not unlike Lurch from the Addams Family, the frightened girl discontinues the pursuit.
The menacing arrival of a tall “Lurch-like figure” almost sounds like a “man in black” appearance.
The infamous Men in Black appear humanoid but unlike the Harris UFO couple give off a dark aura. They often show after a UFO event to try and intimidate the witnesses, telling them to refrain from mentioning the sighting to anyone.
Paranormal investigator Joshua P Warren believes the Men in Black (MIB) might be time travelers working to alter or fix time lines (8) so the future can be guaranteed or future problems can be avoided. They are a sort of “time police” made to look human and act as time-traveling agents for some future power.
Indeed, when a pivotal event takes place, like the assassination of President John F Kennedy, many odd characters show up and logical inconsistencies abound. It might be possible that time-traveling agents are involved in some sort of mind control program involving abductees as “sleepers”:
Today there are many people who have become convinced they, themselves, really are hybrids. A number of contactees, some of them quite well known, started life as orphans and never knew the identity of their true parents. Like Lee Harvey Oswald, some contactees have been seen in places where they have never been… Sleepers are planted throughout our society. Some work or live in the community for twenty years or more…. In the 1960s, I discovered to my astonishment that sleepers are common in the UFO phenomena… ordinary people report being programmed to carry out all kinds of missions but have no conscious memory of those missions when they return to their normal lives”-John Keel, 1995 (9)
It is not clear why the Toronto UFO Landing couple were looking for a certain “boy” or visited with David on one or more occasion but the question weighed heavily on Harris as an adult. As previously mentioned, Harris says he might have been “programmed” by the visitors.
Although the UFO woman had long black hair, she might have been wearing a wig. Perhaps the Toronto landing was another “Nordic op” or an unintended appearance like the Pennsylvania or Nevada case featuring a blond-haired couple. Some paranormal researchers might consider the couple to be demonic or Djinn-like entities. John Keel might call them “ultraterrestrails”.
Or maybe, the couple are human time travelers from our future who recruit and program locals for a specific purpose. Weird time effects seem to accompany many UFOs (^). Perhaps UFO occupants need to be masters of time in addition to being masters of space. This way, they not only get home “where they come from” but “when they come from” as well.
-Andrew James Brown
P.S. More Research Required: The 1958 Toronto UFO Landing case leaves us with many questions. I hope to explore it more in a future part 2 of this article, including details of further investigations. I recommend reading about the case yourself, if you can locate a copy of UFOs over Canada. For the present time, you can read it here.
In the meantime, also check out this video on the Men in Black:
1 see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Toronto
2 see https://www.appalachianghostwalks.com/arc-alternate-realities-us-ufo-center-staff.html
3 see https://18.104.22.168/PDF/Transit_expansion_PDFs/technical-report_3f-phase-i-esa-n-contaminated-soils.pdf
4 see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_protection_conjecture
5 see Real Estate Pamphlet: https://s3.amazonaws.com/spacelist-paperclip/datas/000/815/046/original/1253_Queen_St_E_-_Flyer.pdf?1512389940
6 see https://leslieville.com/torontos-haunted-east-end-ghost-hunting-in-riverdale-leslieville-riverside/
7 UFOS for the 21st Century Mind, Richard Dolan, Richard Dolan Press, Rochester, NY, 2014, pages 385-387.
8. The Real Men in Black by Nick Redfern, New Page Books, Newburyport, MA 2011, page 212-217,
9 Disneyland of the Gods, John Keel, Illuminet Press, New York, 1995. pages 133-135.9
* This is consistent with what ufologist Jenny Randles calls the “Oz Factor”, or “the odd state of consciousness involving changes to the perception of time and space, during which strange phenomena and close encounters can occur” (see Jenny Randles, Wikipedia).
^ Strange time-related effects have often been associated with UFOs and abductions. (see Visitors from Time: The Secret of the UFOs by Marc Davenport. Greenleaf Publications, Pensacola, FL).