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culture

Toronto Urban Legends: UFOs Over Lake Ontario

If your drinking water tastes like ET, maybe it's because there's an alien base in Lake Ontario.

The truth behind the tales people tell about Toronto.

Photo by {a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/snaphappyexpat/4157075594/"}SnapHappyExpat{/a} from the {a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/torontoist/pool/"}Torontoist Flickr pool{/a}.

Have you ever been blinded by a flash of light while walking along the shore of Lake Ontario, then awoken 12 hours later face down in some gravel with no memory and your pants on backwards? You probably thought, “Hey, what gives? I wasn’t in the entertainment district last night.”

The mystery may be solved. According to the internet, there’s a UFO base parked right under Lake Ontario.

That’s right, fire up Ask Jeeves and search “Lake Ontario ufo base” and you’ll come across numerous references to the supposed alien hideout—like the paragraph below, from what purports to be an abridged list of all the alien bases on the planet.

Entrances at Lake Ontario possible underwater UFO bases/cities…Ontario “Lights” Orange-colored spheres have been seen coming out of/diving into Lake Ontario. The area of highest activity is between Oakville and Toronto. There may be a connection to the Lakeview Hydro-electric plant [Editor's note: This plant is in Mississauga], as many of these UFOs have been seen heading in that direction.

The source for this surprising information is the aptly titled book Underground Alien Bases, written by one “Commander X.” The book documents eyewitness and photographic evidence of aerial shenanigans over and around the lake that are supposed to have taken place over a number of years.

Unfortunately, these accounts are unconfirmed by other sources, and the enigmatic Commander could not be reached for comment directly or via his publisher, whose email address is “MRUFO8@hotmail.com.” And while keeping a low profile is just good judgment when you’re wikileaking the secrets of mega-cephalic anal-probers, it’s problematic when it comes to verifying the stories.

Another source claiming unearthly phenomena in our water supply is the now out-of-print book The Great Lakes Triangle, published in 1977, when the concept of triangles where vehicles vanish was still firing the public imagination. Author Jay Gourley claimed that the area around the Great Lakes had an unusually high rate of disappearing ships and planes, and that the disappearances were sometimes associated with strange aerial phenomena. However, Gourley’s theories were swiftly debunked by skeptics, who observed that missing ships are a fact of life on large bodies of water subject to sudden massive storms.

A conversation with Andre Morin, Canadian director of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), unearthed no new information. He could only point us to several of the same websites previously mentioned, all of which lead back to the elusive Commander X.

Of course, people still claim to see strange things over the lake. However, a quick YouTube search demonstrates that video of the events is usually hilariously hoaxed, or so vague and grainy that it could be anything from a distant cell phone tower to a dog vomiting sparklers in a broom closet.

Angus Armstrong, harbour master and chief of security for the Toronto Port Authority, says most sightings of unidentified lights can be explained by the rapid urbanization of the area around the lake. “The other side of Lake Ontario, St. Catharines and around there, used to be much darker. As that’s grown from a sleepy little town, there’s a lot more lights floating and flickering in the sky. And the difference between water and air temperatures can produce some strange reflections.”

Armstrong also cites increased air traffic as a cause of UFO reports, but acknowledges that even he can be fooled. “I’ve gone out there to assist what looks like a vessel in distress, and ended up chasing a light that never gets any closer.”

So the evidence for an alien base isn’t strong. But as any UFO buff will tell you, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and Lake Ontario remains deep and dark, with plenty of room for mysteries.

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