A White Rock woman made an exciting discovery in the South Cariboo this summer when she unearthed a time capsule while metal-detecting in Lone Butte. Now, Laurie D’Arcy is eager to complete a unique treasure hunt she didn’t realize she had signed up for.
At her property on Green Lake, D’Arcy used to explore the area on her jet ski. Intrigued by the variety of bones and rocks visible through the clear water beneath her, she decided to invest in a metal detector to begin searching on land.
“I’ve been doing this for about three years and I find tons of pennies and change,” she said. “I found the coolest bell.”
The bell that D’Arcy found at Green Lake still works, which left her curious about just how long it’s been since someone else heard its jingle. After discovering a few other items of interest on her property, D’Arcy decided to expand her metal-detecting adventures, cultivating an interest in the Cariboo’s Gold Rush Trail and the treasures she might uncover there.
“I started looking up all these things obsessively and I thought, maybe there’s gold in them there hills,” said D’Arcy with a laugh. “The life of a metal detector is a lonely life. I come home with such dirty fingers.”
D’Arcy became interested in what the Cariboo had to offer after seeing many old photos and bits of local history.
“It’s safe to say I got the gold fever,” she said. “I’m curious to a fault. I [decided I] should go where the caravans or wagons would go.”
With that goal in mind, D’Arcy started discovering plenty of bullets and bones. She even found an old Dr. Price’s Baking Powder can. The powder was a popular household item in the 1800s and Dr. Price just so happens to be the grandfather of the famous actor, Vincent Price.
“Now I’ve decided to venture more,” said D’Arcy. “So I went to Lone Butte Mountain, but couldn’t make it up all the way because I had my dogs. There’s a wooded area between the mountain and the cemetery. Wouldn’t you know it, the first place I went [to look] my metal detector starting dinging.”
“That’s what brought me to that spot,” she recalled, clarifying that she did not go inside the cemetery to explore, but rather took her metal detector around the forested area that skirts it.
D’Arcy wasn’t in the location for more than five minutes before she located the time capsule, which she originally thought could be a buried pet, considering the location close to the cemetery. D’Arcy once worked in a cemetery herself. Pets usually aren’t allowed to be buried alongside their owners, she explained.
Once she started digging, the first thing D’Arcy saw was a plastic bag. Her imagination ran wild.
“I thought for sure I found a murder weapon,” she recalled. “I was shaking because it’s in the middle of nowhere.”
“I got scared and I covered it up,” she said. D’Arcy quickly face-timed her adult children, who encouraged her to continue.
With her pro pointer in hand, D’Arcy could make out the size of the buried object. Digging on, she eventually unearthed her discovery, which was wrapped in multiple plastic bags. Giving it a shake, she could hear coins within.
“Now I’m thinking somebody’s robbed a bank and left it down there.”
D’Arcy took the capsule to a friend’s home, rather than opening it up alone. “You never know what’s in there.”
The capsule itself was concealed within three plastic bags, in a tin sealed with duct tape. The contents vary, but each treasure contained within the old apple tin seems to tell a story of its own.
Many of the objects inside are children’s toys, and some of them were wrapped in gift-paper as if for Christmas. The tin contains a centennial dollar, three different pairs of sunglasses, and even a boxed, gold dragonfly pin.
“I appreciate the innocence of it all,” said D’Arcy. “This is my treasure.”
The time capsule contains multiple references to Moondance Bay Resort, including a postcard. Other items within the tin included an orange Ferbie, Star Wars action figures, red dice, jewelry, and a few pens from businesses in the Lower Mainland.
Perhaps the most random item in the tin was the lid of an old gallon of vanilla ice cream, relabelled as “chili”.
The tin itself was damaged slightly during the time it was buried underground, but that didn’t dampen D’Arcy’s spirits as she uncovered its contents.
“This is what makes it all worthwhile. I can’t believe this,” she said. “They were brilliant with it. You would have had to have a metal detector or be searching for it to find all [of] this.”
The first thing D’Arcy and her friend saw upon opening the tin was a guest experience survey from Moondance Bay Resort, a Bridge Lake establishment that closed in 2014.
“I actually went to it,” said D’Arcy. “But it’s no more. They shut down years ago.”
D’Arcy left a note at the resort site, describing her mission to determine who buried the time capsule and why, but she hasn’t heard back.
She began labelling her discovery as a time capsule because of the nature of its contents and the specific reference to the year 2002. The tin displays plenty of wear and could easily have been buried for the past 17 years, she believes.
A 2002 Cariboo Chilcotin Travel Guide and a 2000 Gold Country travel guide were used to line the bottom of the tin, which included a clue to a second, mystery treasure location.
On a note rolled up and attached to a headless astronaut action figure, D’Arcy found the following message: “To find the head of the Buzz Lightgear, go to the Myrtle Lake treasure.”
“I have a naturally curious mind,” she said of her efforts to chase the next clue. The closest Murtle Lake is in Wells Gray Park and is spelled differently than it is indicated on the note that was left in the time capsule D’Arcy found.
Now, she wants to share her findings in hopes of continuing the treasure hunt she unknowingly embarked upon.
In her metal-detecting adventures, D’Arcy has found items that helped her to make special connections to the South Cariboo. She recently unearthed an old leather strap and after meeting a local woman named Marie Monette, D’Arcy discovered that the strap may have once belonged to Monette’s family ranch.
“This strap probably hasn’t been seen since the ’30s or ’40s,” she said. Meeting the Monette family and learning more about the rich history of the Cariboo has been the real treasure of her experience, said D’Arcy.
When she isn’t metal-detecting for fun, she volunteers as a seniors’ dance instructor in White Rock.
Whenever her metal detector does go off in the Cariboo, D’Arcy is always careful to replace any earth that she disturbs.
“When you metal detect, you respect where you are,” she said. “It’s so important that you don’t leave a mess. There’s rules to follow. Leave it as you saw it.”