Story written by: Leo Doucet

Back at Grandma's
in the glow of the kerosene lamp that made grotesque moving shadows on the walls, I sat very quietly on the old buffalo robe and listened to tales of the supernatural. Stories of demons, possessed animals and people were told. Each more horrible than the previous. Each seriously related. Bored?, not likely.

We now visited more often, three or four times each week. On one of these visits the devining rod was produced. It belonged to Alphonse Bourque, a relative through marriage who was the first bottler of CocaCola in northern N.B., his bottling works being on Water Street In Campbellton. The devining rod is an interesting device which requires a lot of imagination to use. Its operation is not based on any known technology and to a person who is more technically minded it belongs in the realm of the Ouija Board. It is widely believed that a branch cut from an alder bush in the form a 'Y', will 'devine' (find) water. The branch about eighteen inches long is held in the hands and the holder by walking around will notice the single end of the branch dipping downward when passing over a water source below ground.

This particular devining rod was a more sophisticated version and was 'designed'? to find precious metals. It had the same shape but had been completely wrapped with electrician's tape. The center of the Y had a raised section which was supposed to contain a piece of gold and a precious gem. Diamond?. It showed signs of considerable wear. The instrument had to be quickly put away when a neighbour arrived with a large piece of deer meat he had shot that day. Times were tough and it was usual for neighbours to share meat or a fish catch with one another. Meat did not keep well in the heat of summer, no one had a refrigerator, and besides there was no electricity in the rural areas. It was hard to thank the donor for his gift and at the same time tell him to go home. Hospitality prevailed and the neighbour stayed until it was time for all to go.

The next day must have been a holiday because we went to Balmoral early in the morning and stayed all day. There were lots of practices with the devining rod. Even I had a try at it. I knew where the ore was hidden and had no trouble getting the rod to point to the area that I wanted it to. My uncle Cyrille, always a prankster, almost caused my mother and grandmother to have a heart attack. It was theorized that if the rod could find gold, it should be able to find their wedding bands. Uncle Armand was delegated to hide the wedding bands and a solid $5.00 gold piece (Gold was then only $32.00 per ounce) that my father had on a gold chain.

While the women were preparing dinner Uncle Armand went out the back door and hid the gold in the garden with the men watching. We then sat down to have dinner. Somehow Uncle Cyrille slipped out unnoticed, picked up the gold and rehid it in the flower beds in front of the house.

After dishes were done Mom tried her hand with the rod. Three or four false finds later she acknowledged that the rod would not work for her. She asked Grandma to try her luck. Grandma would have nothing to do with it but cautioned that her ring had better be found before long. Dad said that the rod had worked for him before and he was sure he could find the items without trouble. He took the rod and after a few changes of direction arrived at the spot where the gold had been hidden. He dug carefully in the loose earth, but nothing.

The others looking foolishly at each other got down and started to go through the earth that had been moved. I can remember Mother standing in the shade near the house not saying a word. Stories about the supernatural started again. Uncle Cyrille played his part to perfection, even going into the house and telling Grandma that 'THEY' had lost her ring. Grandma came out with only one command, "TROUVER", French for find..

It was later in the afternoon after much of the garden had been dug up before Uncle Cyrille casually grabbed the devining rod and started crisscrossing the garden. After that he walked between the house and the fence to the front flower bed where he proceeded to find the missing items. He proclaimed with a straight face that the rod was genuine and easy to use. Forget about evil beings and say a prayer instead, he advised.

Not long after this Dad and my two uncles returned to the site. They stopped the car some distance away and walked back. They then entered the small patch of woods and began to look around. Indeed there had been others who had known of this treasure for the ground had been dug up leaving old water filled holes. The area was naturely swampy and they were not able to walk everywhere. Back at the house they declared that everyone coming along would have to wear rubber boots. The mosquitos were terrible and navigating in there at night would be difficult.

Rubber boots were scarce but finally six pairs were located, some were borrowed on the pretext that they would be used for digging clams, an occupation that persists to this day along the miles of the bay shore. Planning in earnest now began and a date was set that coincided with the coming of a full moon. They began to assemble the necessary tools, picks, shovels, a length of chain, bloc and tackle, lanterns, rope, buckets and a few other small items.

They were well aware that no one would be able to talk after entering the woods, so it was decided to try a practice run in the back garden. After several tries a procedure was established whereby each knew what he was to do. They reasoned that even if the devining rod pointed to a possible location, a probe would be needed to tell them how deep the treasure might be.

My Grandfather on Dad's side at whose home we lived had not visited with us and had not been involved up to this point. He was suspicious that something out of the ordinary was taking place and demanded to know what was going on. Dad then told him the whole story and asked him to come along.

On the next visit to Grandma's he was with us. The procedure to be used was gone over again and Grandpa 'D' was delegated to the making and handling of the probe. I remember the next day seeing him at work forging a long piece of metal rod into a probe, with a handle at one end and a point at the other. As usual he would get me to turn the old emery wheel crank while he sharpened the hammered end to a round almost needle point. Next he took two steel chisels out of his tool chest and proceeded to sharpen these.

Turning that emery wheel by hand was a tiresome job, every few seconds one had to spill water on the wheel from a jug that constantly required refilling. I asked what the chisels would be used for. He replied "To redeem the treasure". I did not know what that meant and upon questioning him again he said, "never mind, just keep turning the wheel".

That question was answered on the next visit to Balmoral. As usual it was not long before the subject turned to the treasure hunt and more of the supernatural. Tales were told of people who had unearthed treasures only to have the treasures disappear when someone spoke, sometimes if they were lucky the treasure would only go deeper. Before any attempt was made to lift out the treasure it would have to be redeemed. One had to somehow get down on the treasure chest or pot, and with the use of a chisel and hammer, cut a slit large enough into it to allow for the insertion of a gold or silver coin. At this point the evil (guardian?) would leave and talking could resume.

It is interesting to noted that searchers for the Oak Island treasure in Nova Scotia,
although apparently within grasp of the treasure a number of times have not followed these rituals.
They have not recovered their treasure either!!!.

It was sometime in July before the target date arrived. It had been raining for a week but in the afternoon of the appointed day the rain stopped. The sky remained cloudy while strong East winds continued to blow in from the Bay. Everything was now made ready and with the cloudy sky, dark came quickly. The party consisted of the two grandfathers, the two uncles, Dad and another Uncle, Francis Drapeau. I had wanted to go but there was no more room in the car. Upon arrival at the site they quickly unloaded and carried the tools into the wooded area. They could hear the surf pounding nearby and with no traffic on the road the timing was considered ideal.

After entering the small patch of cedars and alders the lanterns were lit and the devining rod was put to work. They had great difficulty walking around because the area was now almost all covered with water. The devining rod was not pointing to any area in particular and it was assumed that the covering of water may have had something to do with it. It was well after midnight before communicating with hand signals it was decided to go back to the car.

Once on the road everybody had something to say. It seemes that the devining rod had pointed downward a few times but repeated passes over the areas indicated different results. Grandpa 'D' had struck several hard objects with his probe at about five feet in the soft wet earth. No one had thought of bringing anything along to mark those water covered spots.

Sudden rain squalls came and went but it was decided to give it another try, wet and miserable they trooped back in. The probe found some more solid objects but the water kept them from digging down more than a third of the way, The thought of how one would redeem the treasure crossed everyone's mind. Grandpa 'D' was probing some distance away in the darkness when Dad heard a muffled sound over the noise of the wind, followed by only the wistling in the trees and the noise of the pelting rain. He took a lantern and went in the direction of where Grandpa 'D' had been working. After several minutes of searching he broke silence and called to the others to come quickly. He had heard a splash and a cry for help.

The lanterns were brought forward revealing a head bobbing in the water. Dad grabbed a rope and jumped in. The two were quickly pulled out, not much the worse for wear although Grandpa 'D' had swallowed a lot of water and felt ill. He had been working his way steadily backwards while shoving the probe down between his feet when suddenly one step backwards landed him into a hole that was over his head. They described the hole as about about 4 feet wide and 10 feet long.

The search for the treasure was over. Back at the house everybody was talking and laughing except Grandpa 'D'. He said that he had not been able to keep his head above water enough to call for help. The few feeble sounds he had made had gone unheard in the noise of the wind and rain. Rarely sick he nevertheless was bedridden for the next few days.

The project was put on hold and eventually was rarely even spoken of. Just recently I visited my Uncle Cyrille now at the Senior Citizen's Home in Dalhousie. After a while he asked me if I remembered the time we had gone looking for the treasure. I said I remembered well. He laughed and recalled my grandfather falling into the waterfilled hole. He, my uncle Armand, my sister Aline and I, are the only ones left now who have personal knowledge of this adventure. I would like to go back again, this time in broad daylight and equipped with a modern metal detector.

On my way back to Fredericton where I live, I passed the site of the search and noted that highway alignment work had caused the road to be moved very close to where my grandfather had stepped into a waterfilled hole in the middle of a wet, windy night.

The End.
Note:- Since this has been written, both Uncles have passed away, thus only my sister Aline and I are left of the original treasure seeking group.

This page was designed by Irene Doyle Feb. 1998