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Fascinating Places

Oak Island, Nova Scotia

Captain Kidd's treasure, Aztec gold, the manuscripts of Francis Bacon, perhaps even the Holy Grail -- there are many theories as to just what is buried on Oak Island, off the eastern coast of Nova Scotia. For years people have been trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, or more accurately, to the bottom on the money pit.

Photograph of a shaft sinking for treasure hunt, Oak Island, Nova Scotia, July 1931

Shaft sinking for treasure hunt, Oak Island, Nova Scotia, July 1931

Photograph of a group of men at Oak Island, Nova Scotia, July 1931

Men at Oak Island, Nova Scotia, July 1931

On a summer day in 1795, teenager Daniel McGinnis came across a circular depression in the ground. On closer examination he saw other signs that suggested that someone had buried something in the area. Over the next few days along with two friends, Daniel began to dig. Two feet down the boys discovered a layer of flagstones. At ten feet there was a platform of oak logs, and the same at 20 and 30 feet. The boys abandoned their digging, returning eight years later to continue their search. This time they reached 90 feet, finding a layer of charcoal at 40 feet, putty at 50 feet and coconut fiber at 60 feet. Something was found every 10 feet, and at 90 feet a stone inscribed with strange writing was uncovered. At 90 feet water seeped in and stopped further digging. The cache had been ingeniously designed with passages that flood the pit thereby foiling any attempts to reach what may be buried there. Further attempts uncovered a layer of spruce and what may have been a cask of coins at around 100 feet.

Over the years countless people have tried to reach the supposed treasure using various methods and technology. Corporations have been formed and fortunes spent to try and solve the, as yet, unexplained mystery.


Crooker, William S. Oak Island Gold. Halifax: Nimbus, 1993.

Fanthorpe, R. Lionel and Patricia Fanthorpe. The Oak Island Mystery: the Secret of the World's Greatest Treaure Hunt. Toronto: Hounslow Press, 1995.

Finnan, Mark. Oak Island Secrets. Halifax: Formac Publishing, 1997.

Harris, Reginald V. The Oak Island Mystery. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1967.