One of Canada’s most famous UFO sightings is now being commemorated on a $20 coin — because why not.
The “Falcon Lake Incident,” as its become colloquially known, refers to a 1967 UFO sighting by a man named Stephen Michalak in Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park. The incident garnered considerate attention from the Canadian public at the time, even prompting an investigation by Canada’s national police, the RCMP.
The perfectly campy $20 coin features an illustration of a plaid-wearing Michalak gazing up at a UFO hovering above his head. The coin also comes with a black light flashlight: When you shine it on the coin, a blast of yellow light covers Michalak, who suffered considerable burns after his alleged encounter. Limited to just 4,000, the coin is retailing for $101.76.
Michalak, an amateur geologist, claimed he had been prospecting in the bushes around the park’s Falcon Lake when two cigar-shaped “objects” landed in front of him; one touched the ground while the other hovered.
According to Library and Archives Canada, Michalak said in an interview later that year that the objects began to change in front of his eyes:
The first object remained on the ground for 45 minutes. It made a whirling sound and gradually changed in colour from grey to silver. Then a hatch opened and the object emitted a bright violet light. Michalak claimed that he heard voices from within. He called out to the voices in English, German, Italian, Polish, Ukrainian and Russian. There was no response; instead the hatch closed quickly as if the inhabitants were spooked.
Michalak claimed he then reached out to touch the object as it started to revolve and take off. He was pushed back by a hot blast of air that burned his clothes and left grid-shaped burns across his chest. He then felt extremely ill, vomited, and noticed a “metallic smell coming from inside his body.”
When he got back to his hometown of Winnipeg, Michalak was treated for his burns at a local hospital, and the next day, an account of his alien encounter made it into the Winnipeg Tribune newspaper, creating a public furor and curiosity around the incident.
Eventually, the RCMP were brought in to investigate Michalak’s claim. An RCMP report from June of 1967 described the burns as mysterious, but legit. “…a large burn that covers an area approximately 1 foot in diameter. The burn was… blotchy and with unburned areas inside the burned perimeter area.”
Attempting a month after the incident to go back to the site with Michalak to investigate, it became apparent that Michalak couldn’t find where the event had taken place. The case was momentarily closed until Michalak came back to the RCMP stating that he had gone back and found it by himself, and recovered some items that he had left at the scene, including burnt clothing, steel tape and rock and soil samples.
Although this all sounds like a conspiracy case of cat and mouse between a UFO believer and Canada’s federal police, this next part of the story is rather eerie. In July, according to Library and Archives Canada, an RCMP report confirms that an RCMP Squad Leader visited Michalak in Winnipeg, taking the samples he had brought back for testing.
On July 24th, the results of these tests were sent to the RCMP along with a memo that stated, “U.F.O. reported by Stephen Michalak. Laboratory tests here indicate earth samples taken from scene highly radioactive. Radiation protection Div. of Dept. of Health and Welfare concerned that others may be exposed, if travel in area not restricted.”
Michalak then went back to the UFO site with several RCMP officers for a final time, and this time the group uncovered a large semi-circle burned into the rock face about 15 feet in diameter. A representative on the expedition from the Department of Health and Welfare apparently tested the inner area of the circle and found evidence of radioactive material. No other traces of a UFO presence were found.
The case was eventually investigated by multiple levels of government, including Canada’s Department of National Defense and the United States Air Force. Officially, it has remained unsolved. But as one of the best-documented instances of a UFO sighting — due to material found at the scene and Michalak’s own accounts of his experience — it’s become an indelible part of Canadian paranormal history.