Wilbert Smith was born in Lethbridge, Alberta, in 1910. He graduated from the University of British Columbia, with degrees in electrical engineering. He worked as the chief engineer for radio station CJOR in Vancouver. By 1939 Wilbert Smith was working for the federal Department of Transport. He designed Canada’s wartime monitoring systems. Smith made many important contributions to the development of radio technology, and had a particular interest in geo-magnetism. Smith was convinced that energy could be extracted from the magnetic fields that surround Earth. In the late 1940s, he found another interest, after reading a magazine article on ‘flying saucers’; Smith became convinced that flying saucers did exist, and that they are were propelled by magnetic forces.
In 1950 Smith attended a North American Radio Broadcast Association conference in Washington, DC. He became further convinced of the existence of UFOs, and that they used magnetic forces to operate. Upon returning to Canada Smith met with Dr. Solandt, chairman of the Canadian Defence Research Board (DRB). Solandt agreed to provide laboratory space, equipment, and personnel for research into geo-magnetism.
In his project proposal of November 21, 1950, Smith outlined seven areas of geo-magnetic research; UFO research was not mentioned. Commander C.P. Edwards, Deputy Minister of Transport for Air Services, accepted the proposal. The project, named Magnet, was kept classified, as there was a potential to create new technologies with unknown potentials.
In 1953 Project Magnet moved into borrowed Department of Transport facilities at Shirley’s Bay, on the Ottawa River. His research equipment included a magnetometer, a gamma-ray detector, a powerful radio receiver, and a gravimeter to measure gravity fields in the atmosphere.
The press fairly quickly noticed Smith’s work on UFOs, and questions were asked of the Department of Transport. Denials were made, but it became obvious that something unusual was under way at Shirley’s Bay.
On August 8, 1954, a ‘contact’ was made, at 3:01 pm. The gravimeter results, recorded on graph paper, showed a very large and unexplainable deflection, and the researchers rushed outside to have a look. All they saw was dense cloud cover.
On August 10, 1954, the Department of Transport issued a report/press release admitting that they had been performing UFO research for three-and-a-half years, and that considerable data had been collected, though no definite conclusions had been reached. Although the report/press release indicated that initial data had been supported by additional research, the Department of Transport terminated Project Magnet. It appears Smith was under pressure to deny his research results, and on May 17, 1955, Smith testified at a Commons’ Special Committee on Broadcasting that no UFOs had been detected at Shirley’s Bay.
Smith continued to work on gravity research, and gave a presentation in 1959 to the Illuminating Engineering Society’s Canadian Regional Conference. He stated that gravity is a ‘derived function’, that researchers know what gravity is, and that researchers have a good idea of how to control gravity. Smith claimed that experiments had verified that ‘artificial’ gravity could be created, and that it is possible to alter Earth’s gravitational field, and that, in fact, both these goals had been accomplished.
Although Smith did not officially spin the line that there were no UFO’s, he did stoke the fires a bit shortly before his death. Smith claimed that in 1952, a time of the great UFO wave, the U.S.A.F. had recovered a piece of a UFO that had been shot at near Washington, D.C. He said that the U.S. Air Force had loaned him a piece of the recovery. He showed it to a friend, Rear Admiral H. B. Knowles. When asked later if he returned the piece to the Air Force, he replied, “Not the Air Force. Much higher than that.” “Was it the CIA?” he was asked. Smith’s reply was, “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but I don’t care to go beyond that point. I can say to you that it went into the hands of a highly classified group. You will have to solve that problem, their identity, for yourselves.”
Late in his life, Smith published many of his ideas in a book titled “The New Science”. Wilbert Smith died of cancer December 27, 1962. He was posthumously awarded the Lieutenant-Colonel Keith S. Rogers Memorial Engineering Award. For dedicated service in the advancement of Technical Standards in Canadian Broadcasting.
Smith’s former laboratory still exists at Shirley’s Bay, though it is much changed from what he started his research in. Most of the documentation regarding Project Magnet remains classified.