Was a 1905 Cowichan meteor a message from outer space?

For all my visits to Mounts Prevost and Sicker to enjoy the panoramic views of the former and to ferret out the history of the latter, I’ve never seen a UFO or a Sasquatch.

Nor have I seen anything that remotely qualifies as either of the above anywhere else in the Cowichan Valley during my 40 years’ residency. I must be blind – if you accept the many claims of others of having observed extraterrestrial traffic and evidences of Bigfoot incursions. That said, I’m neither believer nor disbeliever. I mean, after all, they’re great fodder for my writings and who am I to look a gifthorse in the mouth?

Thus it was that a front-page newspaper article of Sept. 5, 1908, caught my attention. Entitled, A Message From Mars, it’s so fascinating that it’s worth quoting in its entirety: "Willie McKinnon, the 14 year old son of Mr. Angus McKinnon underwent a most startling experience and had a miraculous escape from death on last Thursday morning.

While working in his father’s garden about half past 11 o’clock, a meteor about 10 inches in diameter was hurled through space and buried itself in the ground about eight feet from where the boy was standing.

The meteor could be heard from for several minutes before it struck the earth, but the lad, thinking it was a train passing, took no notice until the celestial visitor struck the earth, sending the rocks flying in every direction and causing an effect like an earthquake in that vicinity. The boy was naturally greatly alarmed at the occurrence and rushed into the house to acquaint his parents with the very strange happening. On visiting the spot it was found that the meteor was intensely hot, and not for over half an hour could it be handled.

The meteor or whatever it was that fell was almost as round as a marble and the surface was deeply scored with what resembled hieroglyphics.

The meteor had passed through the branches of two trees in its flight, snapping them off like matches. It fell at an angle of about 45 degrees and was travelling in a north-westerly direction when it struck the earth.

Mr. McKinnon has spent most of the time since the incident in trying to interpret the meaning of the markings on the stone and will be glad if someone who has a knowledge of these things, will try to help him out."

A month later, it was reported that the Dept. of Mines, Geological Survey, in Ottawa, was seeking "fuller particulars than those contained in the [Cowichan Leader] despatch: the time of day, the nature of the sounds emitted by the falling body, their duration and the direction from which they seemed to come, the depth of the hole and the nature of the soil as well as the direction in which the earth was thrown by the impact."

Quite an order for young Willie who must have been startled out of his wits at having escaped death by a mere eight feet. The questionnaire included an offer of purchase if terms could be arranged. Whether, in fact, this meteor did make it to Ottawa and public preservation, I can’t say, alas, other than that it’s a matter of record that Willie’s father, Angus McKinnon, was known to be, at the very least, argumentative, and this suggests that negotiations would be challenging. As for the so-called hieroglyphics? Was it, in fact, a Rosetta Stone from Outer Space?

Logically, the markings on the surface of the meteor were just the finished product of its melt-down as it soared through space. Whatever the case, did it find its way to some cubbyhole in Ottawa? Or is it still in a family descendant’s possession? That 10-inchround "marble" with its strange markings would be a great conversation piece all these years later. www.twpaterson.com