My Own Oak Island Obsession

My Own Oak Island Obsession

Posted on July 2 by admin
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Our publicity manager Karen is reading Oak Island Family by Lee Lamb, and can’t put it down. But I mean, how could you? Oak Island is thought to be a location of mysterious legendary treasure – such as the treasure of the Knights Templar or Captain Kidd.

Karen explains further:

When I was a kid, I used to get Owl magazine. In one particular issue, I read about the mysterious Oak Island, located off the south shore of Nova Scotia. Featuring a story of pirates and hidden treasure going back to the 1700s, I was hooked! Ever since then I’ve been fascinated by the story. What amazes me is how few Canadians are familiar with it. In 1795, three teen-aged boys were exploring the island and found a block and tackle hanging from a tree (a type of pulley used to haul heavy loads). It fell apart when they touched it so they knew it was old. They also noticed a depression in the ground underneath the tree and decided to dig to see if anything was buried there. And so starts the story of Oak Island, which soon became known as The Money Pit. It has gone on to be one of the most amazing mysteries even in modern times.

I’ve been reading Lee Lamb’s story, Oak Island Family: The Restall Hunt for Buried Treasure which just came out. Lee’s father and brother took on a lease to dig on the island in the late 50s, and she recounts the history of the dig site  – the various expeditions that have tried, and failed repeatedly to solve the mystery. Those teen-aged boys had found a layer of flagstones, followed by tightly packed oak platforms in ten foot intervals. They dug down to about 30ft before giving up. After that, various expeditions brought equipment in to dig, thinking it was a matter of time before they’d find something. What they found over the years is just incredible – a very sophisticated drainage system spread out around the entire island! Digging into the original shaft at any point below sea water will flood the shaft. No amount of pumping will stop it! What keeps treasure seekers going are the tantalizing bits and pieces of ‘treasure’ that are brought up, including a bit of gold chain, a scrap of parchment with a Roman numeral, coconut fibre (a layer in between the oak platforms), and putty (used to create a watertight seal). Bits of an oak chest have come up, and one group thought they saw the skeleton of a hand when they sent a camera down into a flooded section of the shaft. WHO built the shaft, and why? They would have needed huge amounts of labour, and someone with a strong grasp of engineering principles (keeping in mind the shaft was old in 1795!) The most amazing thing is that there just doesn’t seem to be any way to retrieve the treasure, if there was one to begin with – how were the treasure-leavers expecting to get it back (or were they?)

The treasure’s been rumoured to be that of Captain Kidd, or potentially of Marie Antoinette. There are stories galore, but no answers. Lee Lamb’s father and brother perished in the shaft due to poisonous gases emerging as they dug. Millions upon millions of dollars have been spent, numerous lives have been lost, but it’s always those little glimpses of potential treasure that keep people going. A few years back I finally had the chance to visit Oak Island with the hopes of actually seeing the Money Pit, but alas, the private owners had it locked up tight. There’s a great segment on the history of Oak Island on CBC’s Land and Sea that details the history and shows some of sights. Lee Lamb’s father and mother are shown in some video footage (though not identified). I love telling people about the mystery that is Oak Island – I would love to hear about your own experience, research or reading if you’re also a fan. Look for Oak Island Obsession, also by Lee Lamb if you want to know more about her family’s story on the island. She also did an interview recently with CBC Halifax’s Mainstreet.