Oshawa ‘relic hunter’ finds rare silver coin, donates it to Whitby diabetes centre
An Oshawa father of two has transformed his childhood fascination with pirates and buried treasure into a professional hobby as a modern-day “relic hunter,” finding rare and priceless items with real historic significance.
DJ Dowling purchased his first metal detector at the age of 20.
“When I was young, I was actually at a park and I saw a guy with a metal detector and I had asked every year to get a metal detector. My parents couldn’t afford it. It was really expensive,” Dowling told CTV News Toronto. “He pulled out a gold ring in front of me and he put it in my hand because I was obsessively following him and I was hooked.”
Dowling is known on his YouTube channel as “Red Beard Relic Hunter.” He visits historic or old buildings in the Greater Toronto Area and searches for pieces of history, something that he says requires “research, patience and passion.”
“There’s a lot of incredible history that we are walking on every day,” he said.
Recently, the 37-year-old made a discovery at the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre in Whitby, where he is a patient.
“It started off really slow, we found a lot of modern pennies and a couple pieces of modern junk and then right in this area here, I got a signal that would change the day.
After washing the item off in a puddle, Dowling realized that what he had found was an old silver coin.
“This would have actually been related to the actual owner of the property. He was the agricultural minister of Canada,” Dowling said.
Dowling said he showed the coin to a friend, who is a collector, and he told him the find was worth about $1,700.
Dowling donated the coin to the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre, where it will eventually be displayed after the building completes its expansion. The renovations are scheduled to be completed by 2021.
“It will be a really special addition,” Lorrie Hagen, the executive director of the Charles H Diabetes Centre, said.
Dowling has found a number of historical items during his treasure hunts, including a 1990s pure gold locket, a pocket watch with gold inlay, and a powder flask from the 1800s.
Instead of selling his findings, Dowling puts them on display inside his home. He showcases them in his house in order to preserve the history of the item and share it with younger generations.
“Hopefully getting a new generation interested in finding the treasure and saving what we can,” he said.
With files from CTV News Toronto's Michelle Dube