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.


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