Flying Saucer Clubs

CVA 180-5942.12 – Flying saucer contactees need french fries, too! Flying Saucer concession stand on P.N.E. grounds. 1964, Franz Lindner.

The 1950s and ’60s were prime time for flying saucer enthusiasts. There were at least two UFO-related Vancouver clubs at that time — one called the Vancouver Area Flying Saucer Club (1956-ca1979) and another at UBC known as the Varsity Flying Saucer Club (1957-ca1963).

MOV H2001.25.23. Vancouver Area club patch.

The first president of the Vancouver Area Club was Margaret Fewster (1917-1986), a gifted contralto and respected music teacher in the city. She described the club as being “not political, subversive or religious, but composed of good, honest and loyal subjects” (Province, 4 July 1956).

Fewster seems to have been the legitimate face of the club. It was founded by Herbert D. Clark (1901-1986), a retired electrical contractor, who sounded a wee bit kookier than Fewster. Clark remarked that the next ‘night watch’ (for spotting locally appearing flying saucers) would be held in September, “unless the solar system brothers advise against it” (Province, 4 July 1956).

In another press report, Clark claimed that the occupants of flying saucers would be in contact with earthlings soon:

They will speak English perfectly, look and dress like any local young businessman and may offer free rides to interested believers in their fantastic planetary vehicles.

Province, 21 June 1956

Clark had a public fit when The Invaders television series was first aired. Instead of accepting that the series was fiction (which was plain; like the later Cannon and Barnaby Jones, it was a Quinn/Martin production), he chose to take it as a (false) commentary on the flying saucer folks:

“It’s absolutely deplorable that they depict (the flying saucer men) as ray gun murderers . . . . They’ve been around our universe for as long as we’ve had recorded history.” Clark said he was so incensed about the series . . . when it was first shown last fall that he wrote a nasty letter to the show’s producers in the U.S.

Sun, 2 May 1968
MOV H2001.25.25. Membership card for UBC club.

The UBC Club was founded by Stuart Piddocke and Gareth Shearman (d. 2013). Piddocke said that the purpose of the club was to investigate and “to find the facts”. Shearman was the president of the club for awhile. “Humor will . . . be included on the agenda.” he said (Ubyssey 4 October 1957). A. T. Babcock (1937-1993), who ultimately became a B.C. teacher, was the club’s Intelligence Officer.

It seems to me that the members of the UBC club were less doctrinaire and, on the whole, took themselves less seriously than did the Vancouver Area club members.

Crop of photo of students signing up for UBC Varsity Flying Saucer Club Totem yearbook, 1958, p 269.

The clubs had a couple of interesting speakers. Daniel W. Fry (1908-1992) was one of the earliest. The Sun reported on Fry’s talk to the Vancouver club:

The stocky associate of men of outer space told [his] tale with a straight face . . . . Not one person in the crowd that jammed two rooms in the Art Gallery laughed. They didn’t even smirk. . . . A room was reserved for 150, but half an hour before his lecture began the crowd overflowed into a second room and into the halls. People shared chairs, sat on the floor, jammed into every inch of standing space, to hear and see ‘the man who touched a flying saucer.

Sun, 29 June 1956
VPL 64238 American flying saucer contactee and metaphysical author, George Hunt Williamson (on right), Feb 1958. Province, Gordon F Sedawie.

Another big-name speaker was George H. Williamson, who spoke to the Vancouver group in 1959. His topic was “The City That Existed Before the Moon.” Williamson’s talk was advertised as being presented by the Chairman of Anthropology at a completely fictitious university: Great West University.

The kind of public enthusiasm for flying saucers that would fill two rooms at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1956 had dissipated substantially by the late 1970s. The Vancouver Area club seemed to fold around 1979. Notwithstanding this, a recent CTV News item claims that Vancouver today is the UFO capital of Canada. Apparently the city has more sightings of flying saucers than any other part of the country.

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7 Responses to Flying Saucer Clubs

  1. Thank you. That’s a wonderful piece of social history. I recall going to a similar group here in Melbourne Australia… which had so many similarities!

  2. Neil Whaley says:

    Hi M,
    When I clicked on the link, I wondered how you were going to illustrate the article, but you did. My only disappointment is that you didn’t manage to find a local Baptist somehow involved. It’s always a pleasure when you manage to unexpectedly work a Baptist into a story — with a wink and a comment along the lines that we might wonder why or how a Baptist makes an appearance.
    Neil

  3. mdm says:

    Hilarious!

  4. Tim Kuepfer says:

    Interesting times, those 50’s and 60’s. Even at the more mundane, earthly level: women in semi-formal dresses, men wearing full suits to the PNE.

  5. Hi, I just came across your great site. I was particularly interested in a photo that appeared at the top of your page. It’s a shot of the interior of the CPR station during construction. It looks like they are laying the floor. My grandfather William McDonald was a stone mason in Vancouver and my mother and her sisters have told me that they remember him working on the floors. I’ve searched for the photograph but haven’t been able to find it. Would you be able to direct me to it’s source.
    Thank you,
    Blake Williams

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