Principal Carter Giesbrecht and students slowly, but surely, chipped away at the dirt in search of a missing time capsule in front of Cedar Hill middle school. According to lore, the capsule was buried in 1950 in front of the flag pole of what was then Mount Douglas secondary. Travis Paterson/News Staff

On the hunt for forgotten Mount Doug time capsule

Missing time capsule captures imaginations at Cedar Hill middle school

The hole remains in the ground, the treasure remains elusive, and the legend grows.

A group of Cedar Hill middle school students jumped on the surprise opportunity to dig for a missing time capsule on the last week of school.

Unbeknownst to the students, a group of Mount Doug Alumni members had been planning on searching for the time capsule since 2011. Back then, Wendy Gedney, who leads the Mount Douglas secondary alumni, heard the tale of a time capsule buried on the school grounds of Cedar Hill in 1950, which back then was home to Mount Doug high. (Cedar Hill school was built as Mount Douglas secondary in 1931 until Mount Doug moved into its current location in 1970.)

The story goes that in 1950, a time capsule was buried in front of the flag pole.

One the alumni association is Bev Highton, a 1962 grad, who had a connection with ScanPlus, a local company that surveys below-surface for pipelines and other hazards. ScanPlus gratuitously sent technician Kelby Wittich, who used a penetrating radar to create a grid map that centred around the school’s 1934-built flag pole, where Shirley Ross (a 1954 grad) recalled a time capsule being buried during her Grade 9 year.

Wittich was able to locate the gas line, but there was no sign of metal near the flag pole. Wittich did locate a metal object about 25 centimetres below the surface. But it was about three metres away from the flag pole, not directly next to it, as was believed. However, with unknown amounts of construction and decades of heavy rain, there was reason to believe the ground may have settled and that the time capsule, whatever it is, could have shifted away from the flag pole.

And with no official literature documenting the time capsule, at least none the Mount Doug Alumni association had found, Wittich’s spray-painted mark became the starting part for a great adventure.

Children dug for over an hour to about 30 cm below the surface of the ground. After just 10 minutes the welcome clang of an object stirred great excitement. However, the source of the clang was soon found to be the surface of a wide, but peculiarly flat rock.

“Could be the surface of a stone placed on top of the time capsule,” estimated Gedney at the time.

The digging continued, with principal Carter Giesbrecht and teacher Paul Hayes joining the cause. The stone’s surface became wider as they dug, the pile next to the hole growing higher, but the anticipation of the watching students never waned.

Every so often Wittich placed the metal detector over the stone to reconfirm that below it was some sort of metal object.

“Unfortunately, it could be anything,” Giesbrecht said. “The thing about a treasure hunt is it turns into whatever you think it is.”

While the students were unable to uncover a time capsule, they found a few other things, such as the community effect of a group dig and how, even 56 years after graduating, the Mount Doug Alumni are just as curious to solve the mystery of an unmarked time capsule as 11-year-old kids.

As of last week, the hole remained covered in plywood and cordoned off with yellow caution tape. Giesbrecht contacted the school district to see about digging the stone out – just to make sure there’s no capsule underneath – but wasn’t promised any firm dates. And so the hole and the mystery will linger on into the summer break.

“It was a lot of fun, the kids really got into it. It was quite something,” said Gedney. “We will be putting this in the Mount Doug history book we are writing, so it’s not for nothing.

”I had some hope because the metal detector kept showing a signal under that rock, so it would be nice to get that rock moved for some final closure.”

The dig did uncover a few small artifacts, a piece of metal, a a computer chip, a pencil and a white-out brush, all of which Gedney will include in the Mount Doug Alumni archives.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

reporter@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Most Victoria transit takers thank their driver: poll

Bus riders thank drivers on Transit Driver Appreciation Day

Vancouver Island overdue for the big one, can also expect mega-thrust tsunami

The last big earthquake was 70 years ago in Courtenay

Volunteer needed to empty dog poop can in Saanich Park

Local volunteers do the work of irresponsible dog owners at Mount Doug

Sexual assault charge dropped against from CFB Esquimalt member

Navy Lt. Ronald Clancy was charged with two counts of sexual assault in August 2018

Tsawout councillor visits Saturna to meet logging protestors

Three Tsawout members engaged in direct action to stop logging, in defiance of leadership

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Reeling Port Alice about to lose its only bank

Scotiabank branch closure follows latest mill setback, bad for business and the elderly

Most Read