Dead Dogs, Magic Mounties
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Dead Dogs, Magic Mounties:

CLIO-4, AAG, OSAT and Site-43

Harold R. Blank, PhD
Chair, Archives and Revision Section

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While we live, we are the stories we tell. When we die, we are the stories others tell about us.

- V. Lesley Scout, 1972

When the SCP Foundation was first established, it pursued a doctrine of responsive containment. We monitored for anomalous occurrences, and when one was identified, its catalyst was secured and studied. The story of an SCP object therefore began with our inaction, and ended with an outpouring of conspiracy theories by the general populace to the extent that cover-up operations failed. We created the modern cult of paranoiac superstition. We created the Flat Earthers, the moon landing deniers, and Parawatch, because we didn't take a proactive approach to containment.

In 1915, Project CLIO was inaugurated to address this shortcoming. Via the Simpson Centre for Policy, a think-tank, the Foundation partnered with research universities worldwide to review unexplained historical events and reveal the uncontained anomalous objects behind them. As Clio was the ancient Greek muse of history, Project CLIO was our way of weaponizing the past against present-day threats. Historical Research Group CLIO-4 in Canada was a proof-of-concept; O5 reserved CLIO-1, -2 and -3 for more consequential national arenas. The founder and head of Project CLIO, Canadian toxicologist-historian Dr. Vivian Lesley Scout, had suggested testing the idea in his own low-stakes backyard. CLIO-4 partnered with five Canadian universities: Alberta, British Columbia, Laval, New Brunswick and Toronto. What they found would change Canada forever, and add new dimensions to the field of containment science.

Weird History and the Weird Police

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CLIO-4 soon discovered that anomalies in Canada were frequently indigenous in nature. European occupation of North America went back centuries, but the natives went back millennia. In addition to combing through newspapers and archives, therefore, CLIO-4 began conducting interviews with traditional oral historians. The Inuit in Canada's Northwest Territories described gigantic wolves, amaroq, which killed and ate lone hunters; this correlated with settler tales of canid cryptids known for decapitating isolated travellers. Reports of sasquatch, hairy hominids in the province of British Columbia, were found to seamlessly connect with the oral narratives of natives living at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Cases of cannibalism in northern Ontario were successfully linked to the wendigo, possessing spirits from Algonquian mythology. This last discovery led CLIO-4 to examine the region surrounding the Great Lakes, the largest body of fresh water in the world, and what they found was astonishing: virtually every story they heard there was also attested in print media. The lakes were alive with history.1

While security at CLIO-4 was tight, and no suspicion was cast on the think tank's bona fides, all three levels of Canadian government eventually took notice of the Simpson Centre. While municipal interference was almost nonexistent, officials in the provincial and federal governments expressed keen interest. Sir Sam Hughes, federal Minister of Militia and Defence, was especially intrigued. Canadians were fighting overseas in a Great War, and had witnessed the powers of Europe using weapons technology which could not be properly explained by existing science. If the information the Simpson Centre was digging up was more than just superstition, could it be turned to the advantage of the Canadian army? Could enemy camps be infected with wendigo, and made to consume themselves? Could night assaults be bolstered with packs of amaroq? Unfortunately, these creatures manifested exclusively on land guaranteed to indigenous bands by treaty. Hughes asked Prime Minister Robert Laird Borden to let him trespass on the reserves and capture some anomalous specimens; actuated by cultural chauvinism, however, Borden flat-out refused him.2

Ours is a nation of solid British character, and we are taking our first firm steps on the wider world's stage. We will not be wearing moccasins.

- Sir Robert Laird Borden, Prime Minister of Canada, 1918

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Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and Pat I, 1940.

The grief of a bereaved son would prompt a re-evaluation of this stance. William Lyon Mackenzie King served intermittently as Prime Minister of Canada between 1921 and 1948, over twenty-one years in total. He spent his free time mourning the death of his mother, doting on three sequential Irish Terriers named Pat, and mourning the two which he outlived. King did not handle death well. Shortly after his mother passed away he began seeking out psychics who could put him in contact with her spirit. He consulted crystal balls, ouija boards, and mediums of every description, conversing with such notable deceased personages as former Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, former American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and both dead Pats. A solitary man with a deep need for affirmation, King cast about for increasingly unlikely solutions to his spiritual unease. When he learned of the Simpson Centre in 1927 — his cabinet ministers and servants had strained mightily to prevent this — he was enthralled. He demanded that the Centre abandon its indigenous focus and redirect its attentions towards settled Canada. Where Borden had wanted to shut the door on anomalous research, King wanted to yank it open and see if there was anything non-indigenous on the other side.3

I cannot conceive that the white Canadian, be he ever so gracious in his temperament and so perspicacious in his acumen, is prepared for the psychic knock of discovering fellowship with another class of being so incomprehensibly foreign to his traditions and inclinations as is the European Jew, to wit: the ghosts of the savage's back-country. Are our own ghosts so inferior?

- William Lyon Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada, 1927

While the Simpson Centre declined to humour him, federal parliament did with the creation of the 1928-1931 Watts Commission (formally the Royal Commission on Extranormal Phenomena). Royal Commissions are a Canadian parliamentary device used to prevent action: open-ended fact-finding missions which generate reams of paperwork and little actual change. The Watts Commission, named for chief commissioner and former police sergeant Raynard Watts, discovered only a paltry few anomalies of no use to either the Prime Minister or the Department of Defence.4

Certainty that Alaska was a Canadian territory among some Canadian politicians, who could name non-existent members of its non-existent Legislative Assembly.

A contagious mania for cataloguing and categorizing the Canadian literary canon, which had by 1928 produced no works of particular merit.

A phenomenon wherein all flags flown at the Legislative Assembly of Québec not featuring a fleur-de-lis spontaneously burst into flame each 13 September.

SCP-457-D, the ghost of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock at Queenston Heights, Ontario. Brock was slain by an American sniper during the War of 1812, and his spirit intermittently re-enacted his death. Apparently sensitive to the mythology built around Brock, the spirit would occasionally utter unlikely last words attributed to him by Canadian folklore. By the time a precursor to the Foundation had an impressive monument erected on the spot to obscure the spirit, Brock's final moments had so thoroughly left the collective memory that his appearances now consisted of a brief exclamation — "huulgh" — before he collapsed and disappeared. The Serpent's Hand dynamited the monument in 1840 in an attempt to free Brock, but this was unsuccessful. When the Watts Commission visited the site, his faint exclamations of pain could still be heard. They have since ceased.

The existence of a collective memory.

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Mackenzie King was disappointed, but the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were not. The Watts Commission had inadvertently uncovered proof that the Simpson Centre was suppressing evidence of anomalous events, and so the Mounties, as Canada's de facto national security force, identified it as a potential threat. When the Commission's final report was quietly shelved, the RCMP hired Watts himself to head up their new Occult and Supernatural Activity Taskforce (OSAT). He began interviewing CLIO-4's indigenous informants, displaying considerably less sensitivity than had the Foundation's historians and anthropologists. As discovery was imminent anyway, Dr. Scout approached Prime Minister King and represented the Simpson Centre as a front for the American Federal Bureau of Investigation. Scout flattered King by offering to consult him on FBI cases if the latter reined in OSAT. When Scout supplied King with a steady stream of Foundation-debunked mystics and cold readers in recompense, he was all too eager to do so. Watts wrote the Prime Minister a frustrated letter:

You don't know the Indians like I do. What they think. What they believe. If half of their stories are true, and it comes to light, our entire way of life could be threatened. They don't understand property. They don't understand the sacred institution of marriage. They don't even understand the necessary distinction between men and women. If there is power in that lake, it must become our power. It cannot, it must not remain theirs.

- Raynard Watts, Superintendent of OSAT, 1937

With the spectre of war looming in Europe, King allowed the federal Department of National Defence free reign in the Great Lakes region. Borden's racism had caused him to reject a potential military advantage; King's pragmatism demanded the opposite approach. He envied the American and British politicians and generals who would soon be making world-wide policy, and wanted something to show for himself when included in that august company. The DND invoked the War Measures Act and expropriated the Stony Point Reserve on the southern shore of Lake Huron, where the densest concentration of anomalous activity had been observed. The seizure of nearly four hundred acres of property within the Province of Ontario raised the hackles of the provincial government, but Minister of National Defense James Ralston was adamant that this was a matter of national security.5

I don't believe in ghosts, or ghouls, or goblins. But if they exist, they're a federal responsibility. Check the BNA Act.6 Section 91, Subsections 7, 11, and 25. That's defense, quarantine, and, aliens. If they're Indian ghosts, or aliens, or whatever, that's 24. Still federal.

- James Ralston, Canadian Minister of Defense, 1942

King petitioned Dr. Scout for "FBI" help on the battlefields of Europe, and unsatisfied with protestations that the Bureau did not operate internationally, sullenly allowed OSAT to resume their activities around the Great Lakes. The DND created Military Camp Ipperwash on the former Stony Point reserve, and cooperated with OSAT to investigate native burial grounds for potential paranormal assets. When these failed to materialize, a portion of the surrendered land was transferred to the Ontario government and became Ipperwash Provincial Park. OSAT began training its officers in thaumaturgy with information from defecting German spies, using the latent atmospheric power of the Lake Huron genius loci to enhance the effectiveness of their rituals. This, too, was largely unsuccessful. But with so many government entities in such a small, densely-anomalous space, the likelihood of Veil-raising activity was high. Dr. Scout successfully petitioned Overwatch Command to allow him to reveal the Foundation to the Prime Minister, and select members of his cabinet. Canada was one of the last industrialized nations to force this concession.7

Weirderfront Property

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Since the first primary anomaly was discovered, secondary anomalies (their byproducts) have posed a serious problem for the Foundation. While serving, containing, and protecting, we have also had to learn how to dispose. Simultaneous to the formation of CLIO-4 in 1915, Dr. Wynn Rhys Rydderech was organizing the Foundation's new Acroamatic Abatement Group in Europe. The AAG's remit was to catalogue all forms of esoteric effluence, and devise systems to control them. They had made great strides by the time the Second World War interrupted their experiments. In correspondence with Dr. Scout, with whom he had trained at Cardiff University in Wales, Rydderech wondered whether a dedicated facility for both historical and toxicological research in relatively peaceful North America might be the solution to both dilemmas.8

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Dr. Wynn Rydderech and Dr. V. Lesley Scout inspecting earthworks at Lake Huron, 1942.

On the first day of April, 1942, Drs. Scout and Rydderech approached Minister Ralston with a fait accompli. The Foundation had Prime Minister King's approval to appropriate Camp Ipperwash as the surface cover for a new underground facility, Provisional Site-43. OSAT's activities would be supervised, the DND would screen the park for intruders, CLIO-4 and the AAG would have permanent homes, and the most active anomalous region in Canada would be under Foundation control. This plan went into effect between 1942 and 1943, beginning with the construction of Acroamatic Abatement Facility AAF-A on the Lake Huron shore. This structure was aboveground, and granted access to a recently-discovered series of subterranean tunnels which would ease the Site's subterranean construction considerably. AAF-A was disguised as a public works project, "Lake Huron Supply, Control and Purification." If the neighbouring natives were convinced, their legends were not; a population of amphibious creatures lairing in the lakebed and the tunnels took offense to the Foundation presence and began consuming workers, researchers, and MTF agents alike.9

No power on Earth could get me onto that lake, or into those forests. But bring me the water and the wood, and leave me to my acids and bases, and I will give you dominion over all of it.

- Dr. Wynn R. Rydderech, 1943

After extensive consultation with the Anishnaabe peoples of the region, Dr. Scout proposed that forty-four reserves around Lake Huron be organized into Nexus-94. Scout had recognized what the DND and OSAT could not: the supernatural qualities and entities identified by CLIO-4 could be beneficial to the indigenous peoples, but were vehemently hostile to outside interference. They were also impossible to contain or control with 1940s technology. As a Briar-class Nexus, wherein the population is stable and traffic with other communities is minimal, the region could sustain limited uncontained paranormalcy without endangering the Veil. Monitoring outposts were placed at the edge of each reserve, and the Anishnaabe elders became part-time Foundation consultants in return for clean water from AAF-A. Drs. Scout and Rydderech pressured Prime Minister King to force OSAT to withdraw, without effect; King by now felt badly-used, and refused to cooperate further.10 OSAT, in the meantime, had a new agenda to pursue.

There is no room in the communist imagination, if such a thing exists, for "magic." The communist finds magic equally repellent as the spirit of invention, free enterprise, or familial affection. Magic is anathema to him; via magic, therefore, he can be beaten.

- Raynard Watts, Superintendent of OSAT, 1949

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Raynard Watts, c. 1952.

Raynard Watts was absolutely convinced that anomalous research would benefit the Canadian polity, particularly with the transition between the Second World War and the Cold War. He was also fed up with Foundation stonewalling. His Mounties disturbed indigenous gravesites and conducted experiments on ritual artifacts, eagerly supported by anthropologists on the government payroll with high security clearances. OSAT also ramped up the existing RCMP policy of confiscating religious artifacts, both to stamp out native cultures and extract any paramilitary benefits from them. Misinterpreting outdated information from CLIO-4, Watts speculated that international communism was actually an infectious Russian infohazard designed to destroy capitalism, and that homosexuality was an infectious Russian biohazard designed to destroy "the nuclear family," a new term created to justify this anti-science. It became apparent that OSAT's revised mandate stood little to no chance of piercing the Veil, and its antagonistic approach to the indigenous peoples of Canada would soon make the entire initiative too internationally-embarrassing to sustain. OSAT's few discoveries were no more impressive or practical than those of the Watts Commission a decade prior.11

A one-acre region of forest wherein all bullets fire backward through a firearm's frame, destroying it and typically injuring the user.

A tendency for religious figures in indigenous societies to experience prophetic visions related to indigenous issues.

Reality alterations wherein small portions of Great Lakes shoreline spontaneously reform into the likenesses of landscape paintings by the Group of Seven, an association of Canadian painters from Toronto active between 1920 and 1933.

It was as though the entire myth complex of the Great Lakes was now freezing Watts out. In 1957, after suffering a nervous breakdown, he took a leave of absence to visit family in Québec. While hiking around the city of Montreal he was eviscerated by a loup-garou — a French-Canadian werewolf — and died. His successors extended OSAT's suppression of ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities, though the largely ineffective Ipperwash projects continued apace.

The Foundation did not interfere with these profitless activities; the debunking of the RCMP's junk science "Fruit Machine," supposedly capable of detecting gay men by measuring their biorhythms while they watched pornography, was the sole exception to this sometimes controversial rule. Despite some internal pressure to intervene when OSAT abused its authority to inflict harm on fringe and minority groups, the Foundation would not play politics in Canada. Yet.12

OSAT is a thorn in our side, as is the DND, and proximity to them leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I know that our task is to protect the unaware from the dangers posed to them by the weirder world we inhabit, and that Watts' shortsightedness will ultimately be his undoing, but the damage he can do before that happens is considerable. I often wish he would use anomalous technologies while carrying out his unsavoury acts, so that I might be allowed to, shall we say, put the Hammer Down. Some day, perhaps. But not today.

- Dr. V. Lesley Scout, 1958

With a permanent home for the researchers employed by CLIO-4 and the AAG now secure, both organizations were dissolved and new Operational Sections took their place. The Archives and Revision Section would continue to search the historical record for primary anomalies, Applied Occultism would research and experiment on secondary anomalies, and Acroamatic Abatement would break them down. Scout and Rydderech served as co-Directors until Lake Huron Research and Containment Site-43 ceased to be provisional in 1965, at which point it boasted a vast underground laboratory complex, seven new Sections and three extensive wings of containment chambers. Dr. Scout was now the sole Site Director; one year later, Dr. Rydderech disappeared without a trace. He would miss three decades of OSAT activity in Ipperwash Provincial Park, and a crisis which would put the Foundation's policy of refraining from humanitarian efforts to the stress test.

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