The Tabor Light - Canadian Strangeness in 1938

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posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 05:18 PM
Back in the late 1930s, a small Canadian community found itself transfixed by a strange light in and around a cemetery. The light could be seen from miles away as well as close-up and, within days, had generated enough attention that up to a hundred people would gather in late-night parties to see it. The local press called it the ‘Tabor Light’ after the Tabor cemetery from where the light appeared to originate…

Thanks to the excellent work of Rick Fowler at the Saskatchewan Files website many of the original newspaper articles are available to read.

The background to these events is quite fascinating as it involves the redemption of a remorseful priest, a lost soul and the extraordinary activities of human nature at its most absurd. However, aside from the rampant superstitions and familiar squabbles between skeptical and believing minds, a singular light was reportedly seen that remains lost to time and unexplained.

Although there appears to have been an occasional and anecdotal history of an unusual light in the area, it was during November 1938 when repeated sightings began to gather pace. It was usually described as being a bright white light that appeared near a cemetery. It didn’t illuminate its surroundings and displayed quite erratic behaviour by appearing, disappearing and allegedly following people.

In one apparent incident, a policeman was driving past the cemetery when he saw an oncoming headlight. As he prepared to pull the motorist over for having only one light, it passed by unconnected to anything. Another report described a motorist ditching his car to avoid a collision with what must have looked like an oncoming vehicle.

Skeptics, motorists and the police

Rational minds sought to identify the light as reflecting car headlights but their attempts to prove it were unsuccessful. They found unbroken snow at locations the light had been and, in one experiment, everyone turned their lights off and still the light appeared several times. According to some reports, the light had followed pedestrians down lanes either from behind or alongside.

Pre-War and post-drought, the area was a cosmopolitan mix of pioneering Hungarians, Ukrainians, Belgians, French and British. The population was a classic cross-section of ‘30s society with poor farmers living alongside wealthy professionals. Apart from improved technology, many life-styles and belief-systems were barely changed from the 19th Century and, for some, the notion of curses, witches and walking ghosts were an obvious explanation for the light.

It was amidst all this clashing of beliefs and conflict between the scientific age and old-world religion that attempts to identify the light failed. In the newspaper articles we see the familiar performance of people declaring the explanations without ever demonstrating them. Therefore the light was ‘phosphorous’ or it was ‘marsh gas.’ It was a ‘lost soul’ or it was a ‘hoax.’ Dr. Gordon H. Shrum, physics professor at the University of British Columbia, decided it was ‘some form of electrical discharge.’ Another said it was ‘probably’ a ‘glowing owl.’

It was all things to anyone who was interested and times haven’t changed much since.

When we tread lightly through life’s mysteries, it is often the case that confirmation bias walks behind and informs the way we make sense of the unknown. Like it or not, knowingly or otherwise, people will always tend towards an answer that jigsaws neatly into their belief-systems. Of course, some explanations will transcend beliefs and personal opinions by being repeatable and provable such as diffracting headlights.

Unidentified Flying Something is a ‘Sign from God.’

In the case of Father Pirot, he took a superstitious and religious position…

As the local priest, Father Jules Pirot advised the public to pray to God if they saw the light (this was an extraordinary man). His flock included a farming community that was steeped in the old-country superstitions of the past. He was interviewed for the paper and took a fairly predictable stance…

Father Pirot went on to describe the local belief that the Tabor cemetery was originally created by atheists and that such dark-doings would be a likely outcome for a graveyard conceived in unholy circumstances. Such beliefs were likely confined to the more superstitious of his flock. Where Pirot demonstrates the confirmation bias within us all is in his startling explanation some days after this article. He claimed the 'Tabor Light' was a sign from God after he had buried a young girl without last rites...

Ghost Stories of Saskatchewan - Jo-Anne Christensen

So what was it?

The times, the population and the location all seem to have come together to create a fizzing maelstrom of rumour, superstition and fears. In similar cases of 'spook lights' explanations were advanced that passing headlights were being diffracted under peculiar weather conditions. Could this be the case at the Tabor cemetery?

I’m not so sure. The light was reported as usually travelling in a north to south direction with less frequent reports of south to north. The geography is suitable for headlights flashing and being diffracted as there are hills in the region and the snowy landscape would be reflective as well as creating clear conditions. In particular, I wonder if a night train passed the area on those wintry nights?

Some reasons why I don’t favour vehicle headlights begin with the variety of reports. From following people, to passing down roads it seems unlike the reflected beams of headlights. Likewise, the light was generally described as self-contained and non-illuminating – it was a distinct form in the reports. The other explanations that are contained within the pages of the articles are similarly unappealing. If it was similar in origin to the Marfa Lights we'd expect the light to be seen from one location and would tend to be confined to a particular stretch of road.

1938 - December 2 - Woman Followed

Essentially, there were enough incidents of the light to generate a lot of public interest and yet the tales never really left the boundaries of Saskatchewan. The war in Europe ensured that people had greater things to worry about – with over a million Canadians wearing the uniform. The Tabor Light has been lost to history and only lives on in the recollections of those who were there or their families.

In recent weeks, I’ve been seeking the assistance of the staff at The Leader Post and a Mr Will Chabun (veteran reporter and very decent guy) has been very helpful. He can recall his parents talking about the Tabor Light in the early 60s and hasn’t heard it mentioned until now. I wonder how many more people can remember a time when the Tabor Light fascinated so many people? Without the efforts of Mr Fowler and his website, the excitement surrounding the ‘Tabor Light’ would be a faint flicker fading away in time.

edit on 23-3-2012 by Kandinsky because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 05:25 PM
Very good post and op. I was so drawn into this and this was truly a fascinating read. I especially like the priest and the theory of how the cemetery is unholy due to it being created by atheist. Very interesting and thanks for the links!
edit on 3/23/2012 by CommandoRenegade because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 05:41 PM
reply to post by CommandoRenegade
Thanks for your reply

It'll be interesting to see if any good ATSers can work out what the light might have been.

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 06:16 PM
Well I find it funny after 80 people broke into the cemetery the light suddenly diapered.

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 08:28 PM
S+F for you OP. Good post.

I've always been fascinated by the 'spook light' phenomena, Interesting stuff. I think there is some natural explanation that we are still yet to discover that is the root cause of these. Have you ever seen this equally unknown spook light?

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 08:37 PM

Originally posted by CommandoRenegade
the light suddenly diapered.

It ran away like a baby?

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 11:37 PM
reply to post by aorAki

No... Meant to type disappeared but spelled it wrong and quickly did the spell check opt.. lol...

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 12:16 AM
Well if it isn't light reflections or anything similar I'm guessing it may have some to do with tectonic activity, possibly tectonic lights. Just a guess of course:

Don't think a whole lot is known about the plates in that area but tectonic lights are a possibility

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 01:57 AM
reply to post by Zcustosmorum
So far, it's anyone's guess what the light was, why it started and why it stopped. Earthlights could be an answer. Looking at your pdf files makes it a distinct possibility.

I haven't found any independent images of the cemetery or adjacent roads which has made it difficult to rule anything out. Having to take the witness reports at face value leaves a solution unlikely.

It's possible that a momentum was built up around the story that saw anything unusual being associated with the Light. For example, some miles away a couple had the experience of a purple light moving through their apartment. Whilst it's an unusual report, it's difficult to see what it had to do with the light at Tabor.

Maybe it was a Hessdalen-style phenomenon? Ball lightning? A successful prank?

posted on Nov, 29 2014 @ 05:11 PM
The 'Saskatchewan Files' are available through the Wayback Machine if you enter ''

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