A mysterious UFO over Bathurst Street
"Is there an unknown aviator in Toronto?" asked the Toronto Star on Sept. 21, 1909. Residents of Bathurst Street near Robinson spotted an unknown "airship maneuvering to the westward of the street last night," the paper reported on its front page.
"The news spread like fire and within a few minutes all the sheds in the vicinity were lined with spectators. From every window necks were strained and eyes bulging looking for the mysterious object."
Flying machines of any kind were a rarity in 1909. The first powered flight by the Wright Brothers had taken place just four years earlier, and hydrogen and gas balloons were still a rarity. Besides, what people claimed to have seen that day didn't fit the conventional description of an airship.
Eyewitnesses quoted in the Star said the flying object fluttered and dipped in the air like a kite, although there was reportedly not enough wind. People looking through binoculars saw wings on the "huge bird."
The airship repeatedly circled but always positioned itself facing west.
It was lost to view when the sun went down.
That should have been that, but the next day the Toronto Star carried a bizarre report claiming the paper knew who (or what) had been flying that day. The catch? They weren't going to tell.
"The machine is real and if all the stories told about it are true, it is the most successful aeroplane yet invented but the name of its inventor and its place of concealment are kept secret."
The plane, they said, was built by "a well-known Toronto engineer who would be about the last man to be suspected of experimenting with anything as chimerical as flying machines." He held "a responsible position with a very large institution" and his plane was supposedly capable of almost vertical take-off, not to mention the ability to hover like a helicopter.
No more was heard from the pilot or plane—it was sold that same month to persons unknown.