Kneeling on his living-room floor, Edwin Fuhr reaches beneath a TV cabinet decorated with angel statues and family photos to insert a VHS tape into his video cassette recorder.
It shows Fuhr smoking a cigarette as he looks over a collection of photos scattered on a kitchen table. They’re intriguing images of strange circular patterns on a field — remnants of Fuhr’s sighting of what he believes were UFOs. Interviews with Fuhr are all over the Internet, but not this one, circa 1988.
A province away, at his Winnipeg home, retired Mountie Ron Morier also has a keepsake from the time when he and Fuhr and a small Saskatchewan town became an international sensation. “UFO Incident: Langenburg, Sask. Sept 1, 1974,” reads the cover of Morier’s black binder.
Lifting that cover feels like opening a secret document that should be stamped “classified” in bold, red letters. It contains a police report, newspaper clippings, faded photographs and letters from scientists with the Canadian government.
Morier jokingly calls it his X-File, a fitting nod to the sci-fi TV show that often focused on aliens, UFOs and the paranormal. It’s a treasure trove any UFO aficionado would covet.
A business card in the binder bears the name Dr. J. Allen Hynek, hinting at just how seriously the “incident” was taken. One of the UFO field’s most famous researchers, Hynek worked as a scientific consultant for a U.S. government initiative called project Blue Book, investigating UFO phenomena. Hynek weighed in on the Langenburg event in the media, even reportedly sending a representative to study the site, about 230 kilometres northeast of Regina.
First told before the World Wide Web or even VHS tapes, Fuhr’s story today endures in corners of the Net dedicated to UFOs and extra-terrestrial life. A video interview with him on YouTube five years ago had a resurgence in popularity after taking off on the website Reddit. It’s had more than 20,000 views.
And yet, some of the story’s most interesting parts remain strictly analog, existing only in the possession of two men forever linked to the strange event.
There are no concrete answers for what happened on Fuhr’s farm 43 years ago. Just a tantalizing story told by a Saskatchewan farmer, and the RCMP officer who believed him.
A close encounter of the second kind
Seeing a UFO up close is an incredibly rare experience. Most people just see lights in the sky, but Fuhr got closer.
Around 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 1, 1974, the then 36-year-old was swathing his fields when he saw five saucer-shaped objects on the edge of a slough.
Thinking they were duck blinds and that someone was playing a joke on him, Fuhr got off of his swather for a closer look, but still kept at least 15 feet back. He says the saucers were hovering a foot off the ground and rotating at a high rate of speed. Their surface looked like highly-polished steel.
Fuhr stopped, backed up and got on his swather. He sat there for the next 15 minutes watching them hover, too scared to move.
“They had me in a trance,” says Fuhr, now 79. “I didn’t even know what to do, cause I sat there and I thought, ‘Well gee whiz.’ ”
According to Fuhr, the objects then took off — emitting a grey vapour from underneath — and disappeared into the sky. They made no sound. The objects flew away so fast that they were gone “like that,” says Fuhr, clapping his hands.
He waited a few more minutes to make sure they were gone, then walked to the edge of the slough where he saw five ring patterns in the field. The grass in the centre of each circle was standing, while the grass surrounding that was flattened in a clockwise circle.
With no idea what he had just seen, Fuhr headed home home for lunch. His wife Karen and his parents could tell something was wrong.
“When he came in he just sat there,” remembers Karen. “All of the sudden we asked him, ‘Is there something wrong?’ And … well then he started telling us.”
The Langenburg incident came at the tail end of a golden age for UFO sightings, when reports of seeing physical craft had tapered off.
Even more tantalizing, the Langenburg UFOs — if that’s what they were — had left behind a physical trace, the circles. This classifies the sighting as a close encounter of the second kind.
Investigating the landing site
Later that night, Ron Morier, then a 27-year-old RCMP constable, got a phone call at the Langenburg detachment.
Fuhr’s brother-in-law Carl Zorn asked if the police had fielded any UFO reports. Zorn had heard of Fuhr’s experience in a phone call. Although the cop and the in-law were skeptical, both men thought there was little reason to think Fuhr would make up such a tale.
“He’s the last guy in the world that would. I mean he was a teetotaller. He’s a churchgoer, a very quiet, shy man,” says Morier.
He decided to check it out. Being an RCMP officer in small-town Saskatchewan in the 1970s, he had time. Morier and his colleagues provided what he wistfully refers to as “gold-plated policing.” No job was too small.
“Back in those days, anytime anybody approached us about anything, we responded,” says Morier.
The next day, he checked out the markings in Fuhr’s field. What caused them? Morier still doesn’t know to this day.
Five circles fit with the same five objects Fuhr saw. Morier’s report says the flattened portion of the circles was approximately 18 inches. The total diameter of two of the circles was 12 feet, while the other three were 10.5 feet.
There was no physical evidence in the area that would indicate someone had driven in and made the circles.
“Whatever made those impressions in his slough there came from the sky and left the same way,” says Morier.
Fuhr was the only person at the farm who saw the UFOs. Despite how fantastic the story was, Morier could not come up with a reason why this quiet farmer would make it up.
“He is a responsible person, and his information is considered reliable,” wrote Morier in his report.
He doesn’t think Fuhr was seeking fame, or even wanted his brother-in-law to tell police about it.
“Why would he want thousands of people coming to his little place there and trampling all over his yard and his fields and all of that?” asks Morier.
The fire in the field
Once the story got picked up by the media, thousands of people flocked to Fuhr’s farm. He says cars were lined up “bumper to bumper” along the road from his farm to Langenburg.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time.
It was harvest time, and people were literally getting in the way of the family’s work. Tourists, UFO enthusiasts and onlookers from all over were trying to get to the site and to Fuhr.
“They were chasing us down in the middle of the field,” he recalls, saying some drove right in front of his combine.
“My brother was getting upset and dad was getting upset,” says Fuhr. “I said, ‘What the heck am I supposed to do?’ ”
He says a plane carrying Australians who wanted to see the site even landed on a field adjacent to his farm.
Hoping to deter onlookers, Fuhr’s father finally set fire to the grass surrounding the slough where the circles were. It didn’t help though, as markings were still visible on the ground. Fuhr thinks they may have been made by legs stretching out from the UFOs.
The phone at the family’s home was also tied up with people from all over the world calling Fuhr. He says one call came from the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. The two-hour conversation, Fuhr says, involved Armstrong telling Fuhr that astronauts saw UFOs when travelling through space, but were told not to divulge that to the public.
“He said ‘It’s real all right.’ ”
Asked about the possibility of people making crank calls, Fuhr says the conversation convinced him it was indeed Armstrong.
Fuhr never began turning people away, or refusing to pick up the phone. He shrugs, and says he accepted that people were interested.
“I couldn’t do nothing about it. You know how people are,” he says. “Once the public finds out there’s something out there, they’ll all come out and see.”
A farmer made famous
Fuhr and his wife now live a quiet life in a bungalow in Langenburg. He retired from farming in 1989 and runs a landscaping and snow blowing business. To keep his mind occupied, Fuhr does carpentry in his spare time.
And he also enjoys reading books about UFOs.
Some of those books even mention Fuhr’s story, one of North America’s most famous UFO encounters. It was even featured on a History Channel documentary about UFOs. A cheesy dramatization of the sighting was made, with an actor playing Fuhr sitting on what looked more like a backhoe than a swather.
The setting for the video is a poor backdrop for Saskatchewan, with hills and trees in the background rather than fields. When the actor playing Morier arrives on scene, he’s wearing the stereotypical red serge, dress uniform of the RCMP — definitely not what he wore for daily duties.
Fuhr still gets the odd phone call from people curious about his encounter. He’s taken no pains to make himself hard to find, and is happy to oblige anyone who calls and wants to hear the story he’s told countless times.
“To me, it don’t matter. I’ll talk to anybody. If they want the story, I’ll tell them the story.”
He’s friendly, funny, welcoming — and still in surprisingly good spirits about the attention.
The land where the sighting happened still gets its share of visitors. It’s now farmed by Fuhr’s nephew, who tells those searching for the famous site that he has no idea what they’re talking about.
“He doesn’t want nothing to do with it,” says Fuhr.
The most he ever got for sharing his story was a complimentary breakfast from CTV when visiting the studio for an interview. And that’s all right with him. Asked about ever making money from his story, he tilts his head, ponders the prospect, but then shrugs it off.
“To me it don’t matter. It’s out, the story’s out long already.”
Fuhr doesn’t give much thought to his status as a UFO celebrity. “If I had to think about all that I think I’d go bananas,” says Fuhr.
He is so humble about the experience, he doesn’t even like to take credit for it. “It was not my doings. It’s somebody from outer space that’s doing it, not me,” says Fuhr. “I’m a spectator just as well as all the rest are.”
Saskatchewan’s own Fox Mulder
After the Langenburg incident, Morier took his share of ribbing from his colleagues, who sometimes called him Mulder, after the X-Files investigator.
But it never negatively affected his career in the RCMP, which was extensive.
Morier became a composite artist and also trained to reconstruct the facial features of unidentified deceased people using sculpting techniques. During the rise of the computer, he worked on the RCMP’s initiative to begin doing composite sketches digitally.
After retiring from the RCMP with 27 years of service, he travelled all over the U.S. while working as a consultant on the TV show America’s Most Wanted. His last job was teaching at the Northwest Law Enforcement Academy in Winnipeg for 14 years.
Morier occasionally grants interview requests from the media or UFO researchers. But he knows they will inevitably lead to more phone calls.
“I don’t know why I do it cause I know it’s going to come back and bite me in the ass again,” he says.
Years ago, Morier was contacted by an engineer from Japan who wanted to learn more about the sighting. While the subject is a hotbed for conspiracy theories, every person who reached out to him seemed legitimate.
“I didn’t talk to any kooks, I don’t think.”
Morier has never tried to hide from the event. If anything, he’s preserved it with his binder.
“I’m a bit of a collector that way. I’ve got lots of old reports and stuff,” says Morier.
One of the most precious items in the binder is a handwritten letter from the National Research Council to Fuhr. Dated Oct. 4, 1974, just over a month after Fuhr’s sighting, the letter explains how scientists have been unable to find any evidence that aliens landed in Fuhr’s farm, and asks for more samples.
The NRC says it no longer possesses any research on the Langenburg incident. Only one brief record acknowledging Fuhr’s sighting exists at the Library Archives of Canada.
Morier has no ill feelings about the Langenburg incident, or its persistence to keep popping up in his life. He still has fond memories of policing the small community.
“To be honest with you it was the best time of my life,” says Morier.
I want to believe
Fuhr is convinced what he saw that day was extraterrestrial.
Over the years, he has taken an interest in the subject of UFOs, and is well read on the subject. He refers to government cover-ups, Roswell and popular theories that aliens may be concerned about global conflicts on Earth.
No scientific investigation has ever found evidence that alien craft landed at Fuhr’s farm. There were no other witness reports. The truth comes down to Fuhr.
Whether his recent YouTube interview, or footage from the old VHS interview in 1988, most of the details are remarkably similar. The fact he has kept it so consistent over the years is one of things that makes it so compelling for Winnipeg-based science writer Chris Rutkowski.
“You’d think that after all these years he might want to embellish the story, but he tends to tell the same story over and over again. The story as of late hasn’t developed into glowing green goo and aliens with almond-shaped eyes and that type of thing,” says Rutkowski, who publishes an annual survey on UFO reports in Canada. “It’s a very straight story, so it’s compelling to think that this probably really did happen as he describes it.”
But is it proof enough?
“I guess the assumption is if it’s not ours, whose is it? But on the other hand we just don’t have the proof to make that quantum jump to say this definitely was proof of alien visitation in Langenburg,” says Rutkowski.
The story was compelling enough to be taken seriously by the federal government. Grass and soil samples were sent to the upper atmosphere research branch of the National Research Council, but no conclusions could ever be drawn.
The scientists were intrigued by a black substance found as a precipitate, especially in a sample that was taken from one of the rings that appeared to be burned. The sample was sent to Simon Fraser University for x-ray fluorescence analysis, but no conclusions could be drawn.
Fuhr doesn’t really care who believes or doesn’t. People have been telling him since the 1970s that it was all in his head.
“I had a guy from Quebec come out, and he figures I was smoking pot,” says Fuhr.
But to this day, Morier still believes Fuhr is being honest about what he saw.
“Why would he just out of the blue make this up?’” says the former officer.
The media ran with Morier’s findings, and in some cases used them as confirmation that flying saucers had landed. A headline from a newspaper in Newfoundland read “RCMP officer convinced UFOs were real.”
While Morier believes Fuhr to be truthful, he doesn’t believe in UFOs or little green men. The uncertainty of the Langenburg incident frustrated Morier because as intriguing as it was, it didn’t yield any answers.
“It bugged me a little that it didn’t confirm or not confirm that they do exist,” he says. “I still don’t know.”
Morier notices Fuhr seems more outspoken in his interviews now than the quiet farmer he knew. He commends him for sticking to his story.
“Good on him. He’ll never know and we’ll never know I guess,” says Morier.
“But boy that would’ve been quite an experience that day to see what he saw.”
This content was originally published here.