Renovation & Design

What could be hiding in your yard?

Metal-detecting treasure hunter digs deep into history

Photos by Laurie Mustard / Winnipeg Free Press

Robert Unik spent an hour out in an old farmyard with his metal detector and uncovered items left behind by the people who lived and worked on the property nearly 100 years ago.

Laurie Mustard / Winnipeg Free Press

Robert Unik found this metal crucifix in an old farmyard.

You may have buried treasure in your yard. Yes you.

Me too, which is why I bought a metal detector a few years ago. Guess it’s about time to try using it.

Who KNOWS where someone may have buried their box of gold all those years ago?

Let it be in my yard, in which case, "Thank you universe, thank you!" Gratitude is everything.

I have always been fascinated with what might be hiding just below ground level, probably within a foot or two of the surface and very accessible, if only we knew where to dig.

Take Winnipeg, for example. It has two major rivers running through it. There’s been human traffic along those rivers for thousands of years — many of those peeps have long since crossed over while still wondering where they dropped that precious amulet, or that big, heavy, shiny, yellowish rock they mislaid somewhere.

That massive gold nugget may be in your yard!

Our homes are built over a treasure trove of lost history, and finding it can be thrilling.

Now the reason metal detecting is on my plate today is because I have two friends I thought it might be very worthwhile bringing together.

The first is Robert Unik, a renowned Manitoba metal-detecting star who has unearthed many a great find. The second, Hedie Epp, who owns a gorgeous 4.9-acre piece of river property she’s selling just west of St. François Xavier — an old farm site, undisturbed and I’m sure, rife with endless treasures.

I asked Unik if he’d be interested in perhaps dropping out to detect what Epp might have in her yard, and he immediately said yes. Metal detector folk are ALWAYS looking for new ground to investigate.

So last Saturday, we met at her riverside paradise. Unik hauled out his state of the art gear including a pinpointer (mini detector used to pinpoint after the main hole is opened), shovel, knife and a tool belt with carrying bag for goodies found, and away we went.

I also tried out my detector on site, made a huge find — tell you about it in a bit.

Out back of the old disintegrating farmhouse, Unik found nails and small scrap metal stuff galore, but nothing back before about 1920. Then we tried an area on the other side of the house where there’d have been more traffic during the farm years, found an old square-head nail, a metal circular piece used to guide horse reins on a wagon, sundry other historical leavings, then another slight location shift led us to the motherlode find of the day.

While Epp and I were casually chatting about whatever, Unik focused on digging down to the source of a significant beep, when suddenly he exclaimed, "Aha, check this out. Now this is interesting."

He then held up a good-sized metal crucifix featuring a Jesus figurine, all of which appeared to be in fairly good condition. Unik says in all his years of detecting, this is only the second of these he’s found.

That was about an hour into the search, and that’s where we left it for the day.

Unik hopes to round up some fellow searchers and go back for a big group investigation. That’s fine with Epp. Unik, by the way, gave her the crucifix as a keepsake from her beloved old property.

We displayed our loot on the hood of my virgin metal-detecting find that day, a 1949 Chevrolet sitting by the house. Must have had juuuust the right setting or I’d probably have missed it!

If you have a property you’d like checked out, these metal-detecting treasure hunters are always powered up and ready to go deep, just contact Robert at, or via my contact info below. Pot of gold, here I come.

Comments or feedback, love to hear from you!


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