POHENEGAMOOK, Quebec — Local lore has long held that monsters are gliding in the depths of Lac Pohenegamook near the Maine-Quebec border.
Now it appears strange things may be in the skies, as well.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian military are investigating two metal objects discovered earlier this month by a St. Francis woodsman about 20 miles from the border crossing between Estcourt Station, Maine and Pohenegamook, Quebec.
“I was cutting wood with a tree harvester when I saw something that looked like a white GPS bubble,” Mitch Pelletier, who cuts for Allagash Enterprises, said Sunday morning. “I got out to look because we are always finding stuff out there in the woods along the Quebec border and I saw a metal frame sticking out.”
The metal frame, Pelletier said, was covered by a synthetic camouflage “moss” he described as four inches thick. He said he was cutting timber on Landry Road around Mile 6 at the time.
“I pulled that ‘moss’ off and saw there were numbers on the side and it said ‘Property of the Canadian government. Do not touch,’ and there was a phone number to call.”
Pelletier said he contacted members of the Maine Forest Service who accompanied him back to the objects and subsequently contacted authorities to arrange for its return to Canada.
“It looked just like an old oil furnace,” Pelletier said. “The only way it could have gotten there is if it came out of the sky with where it was and how it was sitting.”
The object was 1,500 to 1,800 feet from the nearest road, he said, adding it was obvious someone had located it earlier given the effort taken to conceal with the camouflage “moss.”
“We don’t know what it is,” Sgt. Marcel Soucy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Rimouski, Quebec, said Friday. “We’ve sent photos to various agencies in Canada including Transport Canada, the army, the navy and everybody to try and identify them.”
Those photos are not being released to the media, Soucy said.
The two large hunks of metal are described by Marc-Andre Paradis, a part-time astronomer and technologies expert with Aster Station Observatory in Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Quebec, as banged up carcasses.
“There were black boxes installed on them with some sort of instrumentations and it was all connected by wires,” Paradis said, adding he had only seen photos and videos of the objects provided by a crew from Canadian QMI Agency’s French TV network TVA.
Due to his background in aviation and technology, Paradis said he is often called on by the media to consult on stories such as the one surrounding the metal objects first reported by TVA online Dec. 14.
The objects were initially turned over to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials, according to Michelle Benson-Fuller, public affairs officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“A citizen contacted CBP officials on Dec. 7 to report some type of metal device located in the woods in Estcourt,” Benson-Fuller said in an email on Thursday. “Border Patrol agents assigned to the Van Buren station determined the object originated from Canada and contacted RCMP officials to report the incident. CBP officers and agents worked with RCMP on properly returning the item back to Canada for further investigation.”
A news team from TVA were on the scene when the objects were located.
“When the reporters came to see me and showed me the photos, I recognized some of the markings and indications they there were from the Canadian armed forces,” Paradis, a retired aviation mechanic, said.
“The construction of it looked like it was made to be airborne,” he said. “It looked like light material sturdy enough to hold instruments.”
Paradis speculates the objects may have been topographical or mapping data gathering devices carried by large, helium-filled balloons released by researchers from the village of Laurier Station near Quebec City.
In November, Paradis was contacted by a resident of Laurier-Station who had taken photographs of a balloon over his home.
“In those photos we can actually see the sun reflecting off a tether attached to the balloon,” Paradis said. “The equipment underneath the balloon seems to have the right volume when compared to the [object] found in the woods in Pohenegamook.”
Pelletier said he would not be surprised to learn the objects were part of some sort of data-gathering device.
“My first guess was it had something to do with the weather,” he said. “I looked inside the panels and there were a bunch of gauges that looked like pressure gauges and about 20 feet from it there was an orange steel box about 12-inches-by-12-inches that looked like a data box.”
At the Royal Canadian Mounted Police station in Rimouski, Sgt. Soucy said he has plenty of photographs and video of the objects, but will not be releasing them until the objects are properly identified and, if necessary, returned.
“Of course if no one wants them back, they may just end up in the garbage bin out back,” he said.
While not at the level of the United State’s Area 51, that chunk of land in Nevada long associated with top-secret military activity focusing on extraterrestrials and aircraft from outer space, the mysterious objects do add another good story to existing mysterious goings on in Pohenegamook.
For decades residents and visitors have reported sightings of a large, dragon-like creature cruising the depths of the 135-foot lake.
According to the website cryptozoo-oscity.blogspot.com, there have been more than 1,000 sightings of something described as a creature between 35 and 60 feet long with large humps, flippers, a barrel-like neck and a head like a horse.
The creature bears a striking resemblance to the better known Nessie of Loch Ness fame in Scotland, though its lack of celebrity status indicates the Scottish lake creatures perhaps has a better PR machine.
Affectionately named Ponik by residents, the creature in Lac Pohenegamook got a credibility shot in the arm when it was spotted by Father Leopold Plantein in 1957 while fishing near his church at St. Eleuthere.
“Ponik is still very much alive,” Pohenegamook town director Francois Dumond said Friday. “Last year he was seen by some people in the lake [and] these were people who had not believed but they sure believe now.”
Dumond had not seen the metal objects before they were taken by police, but did say people in his community are talking and speculating about their origins.
The good news is, be they from the sky or from the water, the mysterious objects around Pohenegamook are largely benign.
“Ponik has never bitten anyone,” says the town’s promotional website.
“The metal objects do not pose any danger,” Sgt. Soucy said.
For now, the origins of the objects, currently under lock and key at the police station at Rimouski, do remain a mystery. But Soucy was sure of one thing.
“They did not fall from Santa’s sleigh,” he confirmed.