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Strange sights over Lake Ontario

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I’ve been debating whether to write this post for a few days, but I thought it would be worth sharing no matter what kind of reservations I have.

On Tuesday night (actually, early Wednesday morning) I went out on my balcony to wind down before I retired for the night. Instead of relaxing, I spent the next 30 minutes in a very intense state: I watched two objects hover over Lake Ontario. I’m not saying I saw aliens, but whatever I saw were certainly not any kind of conventional aircrafts.

You can begin to snicker at any point, and I don’t blame you. I’m skeptical of most UFO accounts and there is usually a reasonable answer to whatever phenomena people witness. I did some searches and did find a few wacky videos that captures almost my exact same experience, though this video was filmed over six years ago.

My apartment has a fantastic view — I look west from the 24th floor of a building just west of the CNE. As I stood on my balcony, I noticed one, then two orange-yellowish objects floating over the lake. The main object glowed for 10 minutes, moving only slightly from side-to-side. It was about twice as bright as a bright star. The other object would appear out of thin air above the first object, increasing in its intensity. The first object would slowly fade away into the dark of the night. The second object would move into the same area as the first and hover for about 10 minutes. This dance repeated three times over a half hour period.

I have a decent telescope and brought it out for a better look at the objects. Through the lens, the objects seemed to be just balls of light. A specific spotlight was not apparent. I took a few photos but since the objects were so far away, and the sky was dark, I was only able to capture a very cliché image. Even through the lens I could see very little movement — just up and down and a little bit of side-to-side action, and very little depth.

I had first suspected the lights were the spotlights from Porter Airline planes coming into the island airport, but when I noticed that the objects weren’t getting any closer or further away, I ruled that out. Also, the orange-ish light being emitted was much different than the ones used on planes — it reminded me of fire, both in colour and how it flickered (on clear nights I can often see, without the aide of a telescope, the blazing fires across the lake from Hamilton’s steel plants). I’ve looked at planes at night through the telescope and I always see some kind of reflection or shadow of the plane. But the only reflection I saw was light from the objects bouncing off the calm lake. There were no blinking lights that are usually found on planes or helicopters. Just before the last sight of the objects, they both began to lose their light intensity. Through the telescope, I watched one of them slowly descend towards the lake. Within a few seconds, the lights disappeared entirely.

It looks like I have a very good conversation-starter for the next few weeks.



  1. There are many reports of UFOs on this area of Lake Ontario. Some believe that it is the cause of a Bermuda Triangle effect in these waters, while others believe that there is an underwater submarine base used by aliens and the US Navy. Either way, it seems that most of the sightings involve seeing “orbs”.

    Keep watching the skies… The truth is out there… We are not alone… Insert UFO cliche here…

  2. … or it could have been flares being dropped by the air force and the coast guard while searching for a boat that reported hitting a buoy off Grimsby. But I like the first answer better.

  3. “Capt. Wayne Sinker with the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Trenton said that they do not know how many people were on the boat.”

    Some people have perfect names to match their occupations.

  4. The “Bermuda Triangle effect” is not about UFO’s per se, it is about vanishing ships and planes. I like the pockets of gas explanation.

    Maybe Matthew was enjoying the view from his south Parkdale balcony a bit too much as he prepared for another post on “Spacing Out”. : )

  5. The new Spaced Out blog will be up and running in a week or two. We expect strong readership in rural Texas, Oklahoma and places north of Algonquin.

  6. Hi Matt,

    I’m still stinging from some people crowing about being underwhelmed by my String of Diamonds at Nuit.

    Determined to show that this truly *is* a brilliant concept,I’ve rented deck space on a “Russian fishing trawler” posted 50km out in the lake, where nobody can tamper or abscond with elements of the installation. I’m sure you’ll agree there is nothing underwhelming about the military-grade phosphorous LEDs in this new prototype. Now if I can just get some larger weather balloons and enough quota of helium (the Helium Crisis continues) to fill them, then I can complete the string, hopefully in time for next year’s show.

    The thing is: *I was trying to keep this thing under wraps*. I thought we were friends.

    EDITOR’S NOTE: This comment was written by someone pretending to be Kevin Bracken.

  7. I love rational explanations more than mysteries — can you guys confirm that the search and rescue mission used flares that would look like what Matt saw from across the lake? The articles mention the search but not the lights (I agree that it was MOST LIKELY related, but it would be great to have someone from the search and rescue team actually confirm it)

  8. It was not flares being dropped. I can confirm that. I watch it thru the telescope long enough to see no action.

    I all depends when the call for help was made for that search and rescue.

  9. A number of years ago, I witnessed a similar phenomenon while driving up to Lake Simcoe. It turned out a huge piece of ice broke away, and a bunch of ice fishermen were stranded on the ice.

    The Coast Guard dropped 4-5 flares out of a plane or helicopter to help with the search and rescue. The flares floated so slowly they appeared to be almost stationary – I guess they were attached to parachutes or something. It was kind of eerie, and at the time I definitely felt like I was witnessing something otherworldly…

  10. Who knows? I wouldn’t trust my eyesight, but books have been written about strange sightings…
    and given the size of the universe, can we presume that we aren’t getting “visits”?

  11. Don’t forget your Einstein: if the flares are far enough away, they will appear to be going slower than they really are (because time will be going slower, too).

    And yes they were dropping flares (source CBC radio) an d that’s roughly what they look like (source: me, who saw this same thing occur over the Georgia Straight 10 years ago).


  12. Hercules helicopters have flashing lights like any other aircraft. If he didn’t see those lights than he didn’t see the helicopter. Looking thru a telescope would easily be able to see distinctive signs of a helicopter.

    Also, flares would be easy to identify thru a telescope. He did not see (or mention) that in his post.

    It very well could be military, but none of the signs point to this being a Hercules search and rescue. They move around erratically during search and rescue.

  13. Someone from the National Post called and said they got confirmation that a search and rescue was happening at that same time.

    Case closed.

  14. Matt, a few years ago I was down in Stoney Creek area on a farm late at night doing a location scout for a short film I was shooting in the area. After we finished our location scout we were on our way home when we heard a very low frequency hum. The kind you can create with certain synthesizers, it sounded like a sine wave I guess is what I’m trying to say. anyhow there were a couple lights in the sky very very low I’d say 100 meters about a kilometer away over the field beside the road. We had pulled over at this point and were looking out at these aircrafts. At first I thought they were helicopters with search light because they were floating so nicely. But the noise they made was so quiet, it wasn’t noisy like a helicopter. The noise was just a low frequency hum. Anyhow we were watching when all of a sudden one of them moved about 200 meters laterally in less than a second it literally zipped across the sky. The second one did the same shortly after and then the lights went off and the sound left very quickly.

    I never thought they were aliens. I pretty much thought right off the bat that they were experimental aircraft from the American military. We weren’t far from buffalo. But they certainly were unidentifiable flying objects.

  15. I saw the same incident and observed the phenomena for 3 hours and 45 minutes from a vantage point in close proximity (5-10 km) to the area. My investigations have turned up that media reported a search and rescue mission for a missing boat, however no missing persons or missing boat reports have been made by any civilian. The search was called off within 24 hours of the mayday call and therefore, no more coverage. The media also reported the use of military aircraft, flares, and boats to assist in the search.

    My observations were idectical to those stated in the inital post, but 90 to 95 km closer to the site, however observed with a naked eye. I must also mention that I observed strange flight patterns of 2 aircraft(at least one with blinking lights)within 2 hours of the 8:00 pm mayday call the night before. However,one of these craft was able to change direction on the horizontal axis with ease and efficiency and I did not hear the sounds that I normally associate with aircraft that are familiar to me.

    I must also state that the intensity of the light emitted from two “balls of light” was strong enough to wake me up at approximately 2:45 am. There were literally shining in my eyes. I observed the “dancing” and “vansihing” of these two objects off and on for approximately 1 hour. I must also note that these objects appeared to hover for minutes on end and I never witnessed them descend. However, I did witness “a ball of light” rise substantially above the treeline more than once. Eventually, and I stress eventually, I observed a 3rd aircraf with blinking lights join the activity. The remainder of time was spent observing what developed into an organized and predictable pattern of activity. At the time, I described this pattern as “searching”, “monitoring”, “investigating”, and/or “co-ordinated”. I now would perhaps describe it as “Cat and Mouse”. Every time a third object with blinking lights became visible, a “ball of light” would disappear, with a second to soon follow…balls of light reappear…enter object with blinking ball of light disappear and so on. This was incredibly fascinating to watch and for the most part did not feel threatening.

    I am still left with questions, however…why all this effort so soon for something that had not been offically reported as missing?…and what is the explanation for the ability of a flare, otherwise known as “balls of light” to rise substantially above the treeline? Thoughts anyone?

  16. Matt,
    I am the one who made the earlier comment, which appeared as though it *may* have been by Kevin Bracken. This was intended as humour but I guess it wasn’t obvious. I really did think that parts of the video resembled an industrial-strength version of Kevin’s String of Diamonds, an installation which I personally enjoyed, especially from the ground, looking up at the sky.
    I was going to post a clarifying comment immediately after, noting that “the above post is meant in fun” but thought that the “Russian fishing trawler” would serve that purpose.
    I apologize if my lame attempt at humour was in poor taste.
    Kevin, I hope all goes well tonight. Game on.

  17. Space is public space, I guess. And if I recall my brief undergraduate dabbling in the Sun Ra Arkestra, Space is the Place.


    These web sites are accounts of similar sightings…………..
    We have been watching these orbs for 2 years now….and still no answers..we are on the american side of lake ontario and to us they look as though they are hovering over toronto…someone said they are the result of heat inversion on the lake but we are not convinced yet…after looking long and hard for an explanation,which i have not found yet, we decided to just enjoy…..

  19. It is not a search mission or flares. I have seen these light quite frequently lately in fact i just watched it in north west toronto. The weird thing is it stays really bright and then just dissapears and then re-appears somewhere else in the sky

  20. I’ve been playing cat and mouse with these type of lights for nearly two years living along the shore of Ontario in Rochester, New York.

    Last night I finally caught one with my sony mini dv video cameral with night vision. I was even lucky enough to see it disappear like so many times before. The footage is facinating using night vision and a digital zoom. I’m having trouble copying it my computer to send out the 3-5 minute clip from October 29th between 9:30 and 10:30 PM.

    I’ve never claimed to see a UFO ever but this footage is facinating. The US Coast Guard said it was canadians with flares (even thought I saw only one light last night).

    I will post as soon as I get it copied. I may start a UTube site which I have never done before. The video is really spectacular (I wish I heald the camera more steady though!). Dave

  21. Um, there’s an airport in Toronto. Planes fly towards you from far off – Appear to hover.

  22. I know that. I see planes every night from my balcony. Far off planes are not what I saw. I guess you didn’t read that I followed the lights with my telescope, or read much else from the post.

  23. Well, I see that some of us have been following the news. Matt, I find it interesting that it was only just this week that American media has made some headway on this very topic. Were you perhaps inspired as I was to recheck this post after over a month from the the sighting we both witnessed? I actually saw by chance, upon waking from a nap, some coverage on a television news channel regarding disclosure, a pilot conference, and a democratic party leader candidate admitting to seeing such an “object” in his lifetime earlier this week. Of course, these issues were still reported with an air of lightness and ridicule, but reported nontheless. As far as I can tell, there was in fact a pilot conference south of the border recently. It seems as though investigation and disclosure on the subject has made some headway of late. Anyone see yet another article, this one from The Star in late October, about Candaian ex-minister of Defence and his push for disclosure in Canada? Aren’t timelines fascinating?

  24. hello point form below
    woke up at 130am wed morn
    while getting ready to go to work while making coffee
    looked out back kitchen window and saw above tree line bright orange object
    we live approx 5 miles north of lake ontario in burlington
    woke up wife both shook our heads
    started driving to work which happens to be in a hotel backing right onto the lake
    as i started heading south i could still see this object clearly
    pulled over at lakeshore rd and there they were 2 of them hovering no more than a thousand feet from me over the lake no noise just the orange reflection onto the lake
    called 911 police fire ambulance i was asked i told the lady we might need all 3 police informed me rescue search flairs etc i thought ok
    at work went to the back patio and observed the 2 objects again/no noise no search boats no helicopters nobody out there no flairs
    two other workers came outside for a smoke and said what the hell is that we were calm just staring when one of them just disappeared
    oiginally they must of been 2000 ft apart only to reapear along side of the other one
    it didnt fade out slowly it went from orange to invisable in one shot
    it reapeared the same way from nothing to bright orange
    again no boats no search light no helicopters no aircrafts no noise
    following day i contacted canadian coast gaurd for a description of these so called flairs 6 weeks later still no return call
    i think our government is well aware of whats out there
    it almost looks like the government was contacted ahead of time for this planned visit
    that would explain the search for a boat
    i also think they new it was for that night only for you cant have 2 boggus boat searches 2 nights in a row

  25. There is no doubt in my mind that the events that occurred that evening were planned and expected, exactly the nature of them and who or what was involved, and the purpose of the activity, we are not likely to ever know. I am also convinced that the events witnessed were related to issues of extreme sensitivity and importance, regardless of their origin and purpose.

  26. I am just curious if this has any relevance to the topic. I live in northwest part of Toronto. I can’t see anything from here. Anyhow what is very strange and unusual is.. In last 10+ years in Canada, I don’t remember hearing military aircraft flying up to 5 times within few hours late at night. For about 1-2 weeks now I constantly keep hearing aircraft flying relatively low and fast (but not supersonic as that’d be illegal over cities).. what’s the deal with this increased air patrol? seems constant for past 1-2 weeks as if military jets are patrolling Toronto skies.

  27. Hello I have lived on Lake Ontario for 6 years my home has three very large sliding glass doors facing the lake side. For these 6 years I have seen these “orbs” of light hanging over the horizon when one comes more will appear and disappear. I have always believed in life outside earth. I have seen these ufo orbs the entire 6 years on and off over the seasons. Im sorry for as many times as I have seen them I find it hard to believe that each and every time it was a rescue mission hahaha!! I have looked to the horizon every night that I can and just wait to see them its a wonderful thing to have it right in your backyard! Proof that we’re not alone!
    Lisa Marie – Webster Ny

  28. Matthew,

    I noticed that you mentioned that the footage (taken by myself in August 2001) was taped over Lake Erie. Actually I was located just west of the Niagara River in Niagara-on-the-Lake, on the south shore of Lake Ontario.

    The quality of my clip that you have posted is of rather poor quality. Maybe you can redirect people to our research website so that they can see slightly better quality clips. Even on the Orbwatch website the quality is nothing in comparison to the original footage. The strings of light balls were an amazing sight.

    The original section of footage (aforementioned) was shown at a Euroseti conference in Italy and none of the researchers or scientists present had a clue as to what these light balls could be.

    One day, maybe, we shall know more.

    Project Orbwatch

  29. Hi, Me and my wife have just viewed your extrordinarry footage and found it fascinating. We are big believers in extraterreastrial life.Next year we are hoping to visit toronto and would be over the moon if we saw any unusual activity like this. Keep sky watching and keep us all informed.
    Regards Pete and Chantel. Worksop, Notts, England.

  30. Greetings.

    I have just uploaded a high quality video (WMV file) to show better detail. The link is from the main Orbwatch page. I am not sure why Matthew didn’t just link to my website rather than post that vastly degraded copy.

    All Orbwatch material (including video) is protected by registered copyright.


    Project Orbwatch


    Check out a much better quality version of MY video that someone posted on their website.

    I really don’t understand why the heck people don’t just ask permission to use my footage.

    Many media people ask permission to use my material and that’s ok. I just don’t understand purloining.

    Likely that the poster won’t publish this message. HHMMMMM

    Jennifer A Jarvis,
    Project Orbwatch

  32. i think i saw an alien by the lake ontario last night. i know it sounds crazy but i saw a white looking weird thing with a long jaw and almost long ears. it was by the park lawn area.

  33. Hello Fatima.

    Not too surprising that you saw something “weird” by the lake. Back in June 1997 I was running the video cam from Oakvile,Ontario, and a strange sequence turned up on the videotape. It was 7 seconds long and featured two beings, sort of peachy/grey coloured folks but they just sort of passed by.

  34. Last night (Saturday, November 1, 2008) my husband and I were laying in bed talking around 12:30 am and we saw something shoot across the sky at an incredible speed outside our bedroom window. We literally looked at each other and said, “what the hell was that?” I’ve been to air shows, and I know the speed at which some of these high-tech planes can go. This was no plane. It was going at warp speed. We first thought it was a shooting star, but again…so fast.

    Anything is possible in this world we live in. And to think that we’re the only living beings in the universe is pretty self-centered.

  35. Just read your report. I have found it quite fascinating. I lived in niagara on the lake for almost 5 years, and as an observer of the skies, I saw the same things by what I believe would be the pickering power plant. However I would at times see sparks or spark like shapes of red,blue green and amber. I would also watch the object in the north sky rotate on an angle. The same thing was seen night after night. But like you have mentioned, they are similar to stars. That’s why people don’t notice them. I have seen them in the southern sky as well but also I am aware of tiny balls of light shooting out from them. I don’t know of anything that makes the shapes and flashes red,green, blue and amber that can stay in the same coordinate for hours on end not moving. I have watched the skies since I was a child and it has been only recently that this has come to light. My first sighting was Sept of 06. What they are I don’t know but I know one thing stars don’t flicker red blue green and yellow and change shape and size frequently, turn off and turn on at will. All the sightings to me are completely random. What technology do we have that can do this? Please if anyone out there knows the answer I would love to hear from anyone. They just look like stars, until you look closer. Thanx

  36. Witnessed this exact same thing last night. Am so thankful I was not the only one here to see it. We are visiting, on vacation staying at a cottage on Lake Ontario. I watched these orbs from the living room window, come and go. Always a main light, occasionally a smaller light off to either side (a total of 3 at one time). The would disappear, then reappear a few minutes later. A flare? No way. Incredibly bright, like the intensity of the moon shining directly toward me from a small spot. Couldn’t be a ship–too high in the sky, yet miles off the coast. Falling flare? Nope–the lights can move sideways VERY fast, faster than anything I know and then a sudden halt.

    My father watched from an upstairs room, came down and asked me if I saw these lights. He immediately said UFO. I searched my brain for every possible thing, and nothing, nothing else fit. No flares. No star. No plane. Not even a helicopter. Not the Northern Lights. No iceberg. No boats.

    We just didn’t know who to call…

  37. July 1 09 Instead of watching the fireworks already in progress a group of us in Port Dalhousie were looking the other direction at this long orange glow in the sky heading in the direction of T.O.
    It appeared to be a possible air liner with an engine on fire or a meteor or… a u.f.o with an odd long shape of orange light it just disappeared calmly no explosion and held a steady vertical movement.Everyone was commenting.

  38. Saw something like this tonight orange and smokey I am lost…