There’s little doubt the people who live in Windsor, Ontario are hearing things.
The noise in this border town that straddles the Detroit River has been compared to idling trucks. Or the steady rumble of thunder that never quite crackles. Or even more maddening, the dull bass of an obnoxious nightclub next door.
The eerie urban soundtrack was first noted back in 2010, and dubbed The Windsor Hum, or just The Hum.
"It’s just been crazy," resident Mike Provost tells the Windsor Star. "My wife and I we can’t believe how bad it’s been. It’s affecting our health. You get more headaches, it can hurt your ears and you have a lack of sleep."
Confounding matters is the unpredictability of The Hum. It keeps its own time, changing duration, tempo and timing — almost as if there’s someone trolling the city’s 220,000 residents by winding up some massive turbine at all hours.
Imagine putting up with a neighbor’s droning racket for seven years. Now imagine not being able to find the neighbor who’s making it.
Who do you turn to then? Well, perhaps the country’s biggest landlord.
In a desperate plea to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a local member of Parliament is asking for federal intervention.
Federal investigators, MP Brian Masse suggests, need to get the bottom of this long-simmering mystery — even if that means a stern word with those U.S. neighbors to the south.
"The activity is still there. Unfortunately we still don't have an answer from the government with regards to what they are doing,” Masse tells CTV News.
'It's like a rumble of thunder in the distance'
While Masse has yet to get a response from federal officials, his office continues to be flooded by calls from irate residents. And of course, a strange, persistent sound with no definitive source tends to spawn a conspiracy theory or two.
Everything from UFOs to a billionaire’s private tunnel to fracking and oil drilling are making the rounds on social media, but at the heart of intrigue lies nearby U.S.-owned Zug Island. Despite having a name worthy of a supervillain’s base, the island is firmly grounded in the practical — it’s home to U.S. steel operation. Canadian researchers have suggested blast furnaces at the plant may be behind the hum.
"We didn’t identify the smoking gun, but there’s enough evidence there to strongly suggest that that’s the likely source," Colin Novak of the University of Windsor tells The Guardian, adding, "This source is producing an enormous amount of energy."
The trouble is, despite entreaties from Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, the plant owner, U.S. Steel, has not responded to requests to access the island. While the company — America’s biggest steelmaker — hasn’t issued any statements about The Hum, some reports suggest the steelmaker has privately denied being the culprit.
This isn't like those other mysterious noises
Windsor wouldn’t be the first city plagued by a mysterious hum.
Last November, people living in parts of Alabama reported hearing thunderous booms of unknown origin. There were also loud, mysterious rumblings heard in parts of Australia, as well as Michigan and even Yorkshire, U.K.
But none have been so persistently confounding as the infamous Windsor Hum. And increasingly, residents are convinced that the real conspiracy involves the web of silence surrounding U.S. Steel.
"Governments are ignoring us," Provost tells the Windsor Star. "We have sent more paperwork to the federal government than you can imagine. They keep looking for ways to put this off.
"We would like them to identify the source causing the noise. There is no doubt in my mind they know who they are. If something can be done to reduce the noise — do it. I don’t want people to lose their jobs, we just want some sleep and peace and quiet."
So nevermind the burrowing aliens, or the secret foreign ambitions to drain Canada’s freshwater or the Mole Man’s latest dastardly plot. This city just needs to get some sleep. Because the rage against whatever machine is causing that racket is about to reach a fever pitch.