CORKERY – It was the incredibly early days of the Internet. Not quite in wide use, but about to explode on the scene. TV was still king, and one 1991 episode of Unsolved Mysteries featuring an alien landing, shadowy figures and a potential cover-up, really put West Carleton on the international map.
The episode in question of the long-running series hosted by Robert Stack aired in the 1992-93 season and featured the story of West Carleton’s Diane Labenek, playing herself in the episode, who reported seeing something extremely strange on Nov. 4, 1989 in the Manion Corners area of Corkery. She heard her dogs barking and looked out the window seeing red flames and smoke coming from a nearby farmer’s field. She reported seeing an unidentified flying object in the field suspecting it of being an alien spaceship. Roughly 10 minutes after that Labenek reported seeing a low flying helicopter zoom over the top of her home.
Some time following Labenek’s sighting, a number of tapes were sent to several UFO researchers in Canada and the U.S. Inside the packages were alleged secret military documents, pictures, a map and a VHS videotape, labeled Guardian, with a fingerprint on it and showed the UFO that Labenek said she had seen.
In February of 1992, Bob Oechsler, a UFO researcher, received the same package, which was enough to attract Unsolved Mysteries. After the incident, unmarked helicopters of black, green or maroon color were seen throughout the West Carleton area, although the military denies the helicopters were theirs.
Oechsler says the secret to the mystery lies in finding out who Guardian is. In the roughly 30 years since the episode ran, Guardian has never been identified.
Now Saloon Media production executive Nick Crowe is coming to West Carleton to revisit the case in a documentary tentatively titled Searching for Guardian. Most (not all) believe the incident to be an elaborate hoax. A hoax so convincing, Unsolved Mysteries was only one of three FOX television shows to feature the story on the airwaves. Only Guardian knows for sure.
“I guess what we’re most interested in is the idea and belief in UFOs,” Crowe told West Carleton Online yesterday (July 28). “Whatever happened took on an incredible life of its own.”
The story came to the public’s eye around the same time as FOX’s The X-Files was a hit on television. The fictional show involved FBI agents Scully and Mulder investigation strange happenings that didn’t always have a conclusive answer. Alien abduction was a running theme throughout the show’s run.
Saloon and Crowe, who is making the production for the Canada Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) DOCS POV documentary series, says their vision is more based in reality and the human element of the story.
“It’s not going to be an Unsolved Mystery type of story,” he said. “These documentaries tend to be human interest stories. There’s definitely a human angle to this. If it was a hoax, why? Someone took a lot of care putting these video tape packages together.”
Crowe and his crew will come to the West Carleton area in two legs – Aug. 10 to 12, and then back later in August or maybe early September.
“It’s been an interesting process of getting in to it and following the leads,” Crowe said. “Not being from the area, it’s been fun.”
Crowe is a Kingston resident who took television broadcasting at Ryerson University. He then worked at the History Channel for 15 years before coming to Saloon.
Saloon Media was responsible for the documentary Cheating Hitler: Surviving the Holocaust travelling with survivors 75 years after the war who were still looking for answers. He also made 9/11 Kids for CBC’s documentary channel which came out just four months ago. In 9/11 Kids, documentary porducers tracked down some specific students from Emma E. Booker Elementary School – the kids President George W. Bush was reading with when the planes hit the twin towers.
More in line with his current work, Crowe made the CBC DOCS POV documentary Spaceman about British Columbia’s Granger Taylor, a master mechanic who built a spaceship in his backyard. In 1980 he said he was going to space and then shortly after vanished never to be seen again.
Crowe says this alien sighting, real or hoax, has all the hallmarks of an incredibly entertaining story.
“There’s an interesting angle there,” he said. “There was an RCMP investigation; the low-flying helicopters; the Guardian element. We’re the kind of company that does everything by the book. We’re not trying to create a gotcha moment. We’re not salacious. Our interest is not to harass people to be in the film.”
So, Crowe says the potential leading lady Labenek is aware of the documentary but not necessarily going to be a part of it. Although he would love to speak to her, it’s up to her.
For Crowe, he is very much like Fox Mulder of the X-Files.
“I would like to believe but I have skepticism about it,” he said. “Alien landings are kind of a central mystery. This struck me as having a lot of interesting characters around it. A lot of time and effort and thought went in to it.”
Crowe is hoping to find some answers when he hits West Carleton in a couple of weeks.
“I hope so,” he said. “I think there will be a very compelling film that will come out of this. You never know where the film might take you, but I think we will end up with a very interesting story.”
If you believe you can shed some light on this mystery, you can contact Nick Crowe at email@example.com.
To see the Unsolved Mysteries episode regarding The Guardian and West Carleton, click here.