When my daughter decided she wanted to go to university in Halifax,
neither my wife or I had ever been to anywhere in the Maritimes. I read
as much as I could learning about the fascinating history and culture of Nova Scotia.
Somehow stumbled on a book about Oak Island and its mysterious hole.
There was rumored to be a treasure partly because so much money had
been spent and lives lost to set it up. Not sure how long ago the story begins, but the Crusades possibly are an important part of it.
I was a salesman with a lot of freedom and one of my bosses agreed to help finance a trip to the Maritimes and I decided I would try to make sales all over the Maritimes. I was expected to move my daughter's furniture and sometimes her, back and forth. One of my trips I was able to stay in a hotel within eyesight of Oak Island. The road was blocked. My timing was good in that the hotel was most empty (about the week before the March break). Second trip almost full and got a room in the basement. Not able to get any closer.
I am most certain that the Portuguese had come to the Grand Banks off Newfoundland to fish well before any of Columbus's trips. And they wanted to keep it secret. There were Portuguese contacts with the Templars. The Vikings also preceded Columbus. Columbus did not come blindly, but had some sort of access to Atlantic information. It is clear that our history books are very incomplete with much knowledge hidden from view.
I had read about the Templars beforehand. They came into being as a result of the Crusades. They developed a system of banking which was used in part to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land. We do know that the Papacy declared them heretics forcing them into hiding. Templars had discovered other religious beliefs and heard different versions of the life of Jesus. They were said to have taken valuable religious relics and sought a safe place to hide them. Henry St. Clair of Scotland took them under protection. One episode showed a connection between the Templars and Portuguese.
Speculation has it that they traveled to Nova Scotia with the idea of hiding their treasure. Apparently Henry St. Clair hired two Italian seamen and many ships in about 1198 and we cannot account for where they went, but there are indications they were in Nova Scotia. Portuguese Templars left a mark in nearby New Ross, Nova Scotia. Apparently they met with and worked with the local M'kmaq Indians who likely gave them information and perhaps provided some of the labour. It is thought the Templars had access to mining skills needed to build the system of shafts and tunnels. One suggestion was that they used Cornish tin miners. All that could be true or something similar or maybe not at all. If they did, how much of a secret was it? Many suggestions involve pirates, Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, Sacking of Havana, French Revolution. A thread that holds much of it together is the Masons. Masons may well have evolved from the Templars as they shared rituals.
Some of the secret was revealed in 1795 when 3 teenagers visited the island and noticed a block and tackle hanging from a tree over a depression on the earth underneath. They dug and quickly noticed some logs bundled together to form a floor. Going further they found every 10 feet there were more logs forming floors. At one point they saw a plaque with strange symbols. Going further unleashed a water booby trap.
It seems possible that some of the treasure has already been "stolen"
Samuel Ball, an escaped slave and British Loyalist was a cabbage farmer
on Oak Island, after the American Revolution, but somehow bought other lots on Oak Island as well on
the Mainland and died a rich man. The three young boys who discovered
the Money Pit in 1795 seemed to have become very well off .
In the over two centuries since then a variety of men have dug, drilled, drained water and researched. As I write this it is possible much of the mystery will be resolved. After reading several books I have been watching 5 seasons of the tv. series "The Curse of Oak Island" on DVD. It has been frustrating in that there are many promising leads, but an endless stream of disappointments. They seem to have learned much that leads to tantalizing speculation. The curse is based on the claim that seven people had to die before the treasure would be found and only six had died so far. By their 5th season they set up interpretive centre with artifacts and photos Dan Blankenship started effort in 1970 after reading article in Reader's Digest actively involved in his 90's, actually living on Oak Island. Dave Blankenship, living in Florida,divorced, physical problems joined his father in 1972 after marrying a local woman maintained his involvement to the present time.
Two brothers, Marty and Rick Lagina from Traverse City, Michigan brought together a business partner, experts of a wide range and previous explorers. They traveled to and consulted with experts including from nearby universities, an American library and European sites. They decided to set up a television program that has run several years. Along the way they gave a history of efforts and discovered artifacts and information. Lots of
encouraging developments, but frustrating disappointments. An Oak Island curse was that 7 people would die before the treasure
could be uncovered. Six had died before this video series started. I have followed five seasons of their shows by DVD borrowed from my local library.
There are many intriguing lines of query that perhaps are connected. Over many books and the tv. series I have read about the Templars, Francis Bacon, Shakespeare,pirates the sacking of Havana, Marie Antoinette, etc. Speculation is fun
One interesting treasure hunter was Franklin Roosevelt, a Mason. Even after becoming president he expressed an interest in the search. Apparently he thought the treasure was jewels of Marie Antoinette. The Laginas went to the Franklin D. Roosevelt museum and library where they learned Roosevelt's grandfather
involved. He had made his fortune at least partially through the opium trade with China. It was thought Marie Antoinette/King Louis
XVI who ended being guillotined had trusted the royal jewels to a lady in waiting who did end up in Nova Scotia including the Mahone Bay area where Oak Island is located.
Pirates or privateers are a natural suspects as they are already noted for burying treasures that they have stolen. On the other hand they are not considered sophisticated enough to construct an elaborate booby trapped system found at Oak Island. But some do in fact have access to expertise. And some like Sir Francis Drake and Captain James Anderson have royal connections and even more interesting were Masons and privy to secret information. Captain Anderson actually lived on Oak Island around 1791. Captain Kidd is another name that comes up and I remember him from a mystery book by Nelson DeMille, "Plum Island." The Sack of Havana by British forces is suggested as they seemed to have traveled to Nova Scotia. Spanish coins from 1600's were discovered by the Lagina project.
The most fascinating speculation for me is to do with Francis Bacon, the originator of "Knowledge is Power." One far out story is that he might have been the illegitimate son of Queen Elizabeth I. He certainly had royal connections and was a very intelligent man. He was also a Mason. A lot of people feel that Shakespeare wasn't really Shakespeare and there have been a number of men educated enough to have written the plays and poems. Shakespeare did not have the education many feel was necessary to be the writer of the classics attributed to him. It is suggested that the real treasure at Oak Island is not gold or jewels but the original Shakespeare texts and perhaps proof of who really wrote them.
Some tidbits remembered from the shows:
French explorer and cartographer, Champlain left out Mahone Bay on map leading to speculation that he wanted to keep that knowledge secret. At that time the French controlled what is now Nova Scotia.
Coconut fibre was uncovered in the digging were determined at Acadia University to be over 200 years. Spanish coins were found suggesting pirates had visited.
Petter Amundsen from Norway visited with a theory. He believed Shakespeare's first folio had been altered to provide clues which culminated in a astronomical map that pointed towards Oak Island.-
A Templars researcher, Zena Halpern believed she had Templar documents from 1100 and 1300 that showed maps of Nova Scotia and Oak Island.
Legal concerns crop up from time to time, concerning their right to dig and they sometimes had to half some of their efforts..
One hopes that this obsession will be resolved, but if not it has been a most interesting journey.
A bit more on my interest in Nova Scotia and the Maritimes: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2012/07/travels-of-salesman-part-two-maritimes.html