January 23, 2020

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Uplift: The truth is out... at the U of M?

It's not just an uplifting exhibit you can see — you could say it's out of this world.

After more than 40 years of research into unidentified flying objects, Chris Rutkowski has donated to the University of Manitoba his entire collection of files, documents and other materials dealing with the Falcon Lake UFO case.

Chris Rutkowski, Canada's foremost UFO expert. (JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES)

Chris Rutkowski, Canada's foremost UFO expert. (JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES)

And, if you go to the university's Archives and Special Collections, you will not only see a display of the material, but for the first time ever you can see some of the artifacts connected to the case, including the shirt Stefan Michalak was wearing when he was chipping away at a quartz formation when he says he suddenly encountered two oval-shaped objects in the air over the provincial park — one which landed.

"I always thought 'what am I going to do with my stuff?'" Rutkowski said recently.

"And then archives approached me awhile back with the possibility of preserving my collection. That's great because this is such a Manitoba story."

By day, Rutkowski works as a communications co-ordinator at the University of Manitoba. But after hours, when the skies get dark and the moon and stars come out, Rutkowski and his group, UFOlogy Research, tracks Canadian UFO sightings and compiles them into the annual Canadian UFO Survey.

Rutkowski's collection on the Falcon Lake incident alone runs to more than 300 documents, including reports by the RCMP and Canadian Armed Forces.

It has now been 52 years since Michalak told the authorities that after hearing voices coming from the craft, he called out in several languages and even stuck his head inside to see "a maze of lights", before the door suddenly closed and the craft took off, setting his shirt and undershirt on fire. Newspaper photos at the time show a series of circular third-degree burn marks on his chest in a square pattern.

For a more comprehensive story about the incident, here's my 50th anniversary story from 2017, when I joined Michalak's son, Stan, on a horseback trip into the area so he could see the site firsthand for the first time in his life.

While the collection will be stored permanently by the university, the special exhibit is only up until Dec. 17. To see it, go to the university's Archives and Special Collections at 25 Chancellors Circle.

Because, while the truth is out there, right now it could be at the university.

—Kevin Rollason


Winnipeg one of best biking cities

  • Alex Ivanko pedals down a bike lane on Nassau Street North.  (SHANNON VANRAES / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

    Alex Ivanko pedals down a bike lane on Nassau Street North.

    It may be a surprise to bicyclists — especially now that the season has brought ice and snow here — but Winnipeg has scored 10th place in the Top 10 Canadian cities for biking.

    The rankings, which come from online real estate brokerage Redfin, put Winnipeg in a tie for 10th with Toronto and Richmond, B.C., with a modest "bikeable" status with "some bike infrastructure." The survey said if the city built more bike infrastructure it could move up in the rankings.

    "People really value bikeability, not only for the health benefits, but also for the cost savings," said Taylor Marr, Redfin's lead economist.

Goats - and other farm animals - can be teachers

  • Lucy Sloan (right) and her colleague Joanne Lariviere pose with Wilbert the pig, a resident of Lil’ Steps Miniature and Wellness Farm and a character in Sloan’s children’s book Cindy and Christabelle’s Big Scare. (SUPPLIED PHOTOS</p>)

    Lucy Sloan (right) and her colleague Joanne Lariviere pose with Wilbert the pig, a resident of Lil’ Steps Miniature and Wellness Farm and a character in Sloan’s children’s book Cindy and Christabelle’s Big Scare.

    The owner of a St. Malo farm — who is an animal-assisted therapist — has published a children's book to help explain anxiety to kids and how to manage it.

    Lucy Sloan owns the Lil' Steps Miniatures and Wellness Farm and raises miniature horses, sheep and other animals, but also two fainting goats. It's these goats, who are overcome when they get startled, who feature in the book called Cindy and Christabelle's Big Scare.

    "They just have this wonderful way of explaining anxiety for children because they actually (go through) that fight, flight and freeze experience that we have when our brain goes into alarm."

Happiness is a warm dog

  • Therapy dog Juno visits Rita Wilkins at the Misercordia in Winnipeg on Thursday. (MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>)

    Therapy dog Juno visits Rita Wilkins at the Misercordia in Winnipeg on Thursday.

    Therapy dogs and handlers — like Juno and Lindsey Steek — have been bringing comfort and helping battle loneliness to patients at the Misericordia Health Centre for 15 years.

    The Free Press recently followed the golden retriever and Steek as they visited patients who are either getting ready to head home or move into a personal-care home or palliative care.

    "It's very helpful — I feel more relaxed with an animal," said resident Rita Wilkins. "There's nothing like animals — animals can do so much good for us all."

More claws to scratch with

  • Poly, the resident kitten at the MMC Thrift Furniture Store on Keewatin, is polydactyl. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

    Poly, the resident kitten at the MMC Thrift Furniture Store on Keewatin, is polydactyl.

    Polly, a kitten, has become something to talk about (and pet) at the MCC Furniture Thrift Shop on Keewatin Street.

    That's because, as reporter Carol Sanders noted, she is aptly named because she is a polydactyl, with six toes on each paw.

    "I don't like cats but I like her," said Charles Da Silva, a MCC employee and an international student from Brazil. "I'm all scratched up... she's a good climber."

Twenty years after the end of the world didn't come

  • Government employees in Ottawa worked to mitigate any potential Y2K problems. (FRED CHARTRAND / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES</p>)

    Government employees in Ottawa worked to mitigate any potential Y2K problems.

    Here at the Free Press we remember Y2K — fears here meant we tossed out our old PCs and replaced them with the first generation of iMacs.

    And we weren't the only ones to think there was a problem with our old computers. While people around the world counted down the minutes until the new year, the provincial government had a team of 26 people tucked away in a government building ready to go to work if computer systems began crashing and causing everything from power outages to traffic light problems.

    Declan Schroeder took a look back at the preparations and what people were saying 20 years ago when many people worried about what would happen if computers confused Jan. 1, 2000, with Jan. 1, 1900.

Your weekly squee

A 19-day-old white rhino named Future frolics in the maternity yard left wet by recent rains at San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, Calif. "Future's new favorite thing is mud," zookeeper Marco Zeno said in a statement. "She sees a puddle and she wants to roll in it!" The female southern white rhino was born Nov. 21 to mother Amani. (KEN BOHN / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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