Paul Larouche shows off a handful of gold pieces he’s found while gold panning, gold sniping and using a metal detector in Sooke. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Paul Larouche shows off a handful of gold pieces he’s found while gold panning, gold sniping and using a metal detector in Sooke. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Hitting the jackpot: Sooke man finds niche audience by gold-panning on YouTube

Paul Larouche, 29, with over 215,000 subscribers, opens up about his journey

Paul Larouche has been hunting for treasures since he was young, but now the Sooke man has hit the mother lode.

With more than 215,000 subscribers on YouTube, the 29-year-old spends his time creating content around finding gold, gems and odd treasures from his travels under the name PioneerPauly.

You won’t find many videos where he isn’t wearing his signature red and white toque with Canada written across the front.

He’s found an old pickaxe, Spanish coins, jewelry and obsidian arrowheads during his travels across the province and into several American states. He’s even visited Australia for gold.

But all the treasures in the world couldn’t convince him to get out of bed four years ago.

At the age of 25, he was living a different life. He was working as a security worker after leaving the film and TV production industry. As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, he felt like he was hitting a wall.

READ MORE: Gold panning means getting back to the land

“I wasn’t doing much with my life,” Larouche said. “I was at a point where I just felt so lost and completely stuck. I was staying inside and didn’t want to leave the house.”

That is until his uncle, who lives in Langford, tried to get him outside and unearthed a passion for gold panning.

The 29-year-old remembers that day he first went out with his uncle back in 2017.

“It felt so strange just digging in the mud I thought I was wasting my time,” Larouche said. “The first time I washed out my pan, I saw something so bright and shiny. It was surreal when I found my first speck of gold. I was almost speechless. I didn’t know that this stuff still existed out here.”

Since then, he’s dedicated his time to be an expert at the hobby-turned-career.

He scoops a mound of dirt into a gold pan at the water’s edge along Sooke River, where he bought a gold claim. He pointed out that because gold is heavy, the metal will drop to the pan’s bottom. He always looks for low-pressure spots along the river whenever he goes out.

He brought a metal detector to use on land and a diving suit to gold snipe, where he uses a mask and snorkel to find pieces of gold in the water.

ALSO READ: The golden rule of Goldstream: there is no gold

Not too far down the same river is where he found one of the biggest pieces he owns, clocking in at 7.5 grams. In one instance, he found 13 grams tucked into a crevice of bedrock underwater. He assumes a gold miner visited decades ago but couldn’t continue looking into that spot, as he also found a broken pickaxe nearby.

Looking to the future, Larouche dreams of one day pitching a documentary-style show to a major broadcasting company or a streaming service, like Netflix.

He’s hosted several celebrities on his channel, including DALLMYD, an adventure YouTuber with more than 11 million subscribers and Michael Einziger, co-founder and lead guitarist for the American rock band INCUBUS.

He’s planning to travel to Alaska when the borders reopen, and he’s got his eyes set on Africa as well.

“I’m hoping to convince him to go up north into Nunavut and the Arctic Circle soon,” said Jeremy Woolsey, his second cousin who lives in Ladysmith and grew up gold panning.

“It’s all about timing, though, because we don’t want all the ice to freeze over. We can pan in one of the glacier creeks, and it would be a first for both of us. Since they’ve got long days and nights up there, I’d rather go up when we can get the most sunlight.”

Until then, Larouche doesn’t mind filling his days with dreams of buried treasure, just waiting to be unearthed.

RELATED: Shifting the lens on Sooke’s gold rush


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com

SookeYouTube

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Sooke’s Paul Larouche enjoys gold panning along the Sooke River, looking for small treasures. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Sooke’s Paul Larouche enjoys gold panning along the Sooke River, looking for small treasures. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Sooke’s Paul Larouche, aka PioneerPauly on YouTube, uses a metal detector in hopes to find gold flakes along his claim of the Sooke River. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Sooke’s Paul Larouche, aka PioneerPauly on YouTube, uses a metal detector in hopes to find gold flakes along his claim of the Sooke River. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Just Posted

Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, stands in front of the Hecate Sentinal, an oil skimming vessel based at Sidney’s Van Isle Marina. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Oil spill response base taking shape on Saanich Peninsula

Enhanced base with elements in North Saanich and Sidney to be fully operational in fall 2022

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

The O’Meara family – (left to right) Mari, Max, Adam and Rei – spent Saturday afternoon picking out the perfect tree. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Santa’s Forest tree sale in Saanich implements one-way perusing, curbside pick up

Christmas tree, wreath sales in Braefoot Park through Dec. 24

(Black Press Media file)
Webinars help Greater Victoria residents affected by dementia prepare for the holidays

COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions can add additional challenges for people living with dementia

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read