Transport Canada was established in 1935 as the Department of Transport (DOT), with the goal of improving the safety, efficiency, and reliability of transportation in Canada. The department originally focused on aviation safety, with a mission to regulate air transport and ensure the safety of aircraft and their passengers. Over time, the department's responsibilities expanded to include other modes of transportation, such as marine, rail, and road transport.
In 1950, the Department of Transport initiated Project Magnet, Canada's first official investigation into the UFO phenomenon. Project Magnet aimed to gather and analyze data related to UFO sightings, such as witness reports, photographs, and electromagnetic readings, to determine whether these sightings posed a threat to national security or had scientific significance. Wilbert B. Smith, a senior radio engineer with the department, led the project. Although it ran until 1954, it did not produce any conclusive findings on the nature of UFOs, but it provided useful insights into scientific methods for researching these phenomena.