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Nanaimo silversmiths launch public treasure hunt

To encourage more people to get out and explore the beauty of Nanaimo, two silversmiths started a public treasure hunt, hiding handmade pieces of silver for others to find.
Nanaimo silversmiths Rob Zeiler and Kevin Driver have created a public treasure hunt by hiding silver bars in Nanaimo parks and beaches. VIA ROB ZEILER

When Rob Zeiler moved to ­Nanaimo about six weeks ago, he was blown away by the Island’s beauty. With a friend acting as tour guide, Zeiler jumped into ­exploring his new surroundings. His excitement was so great, he wanted to encourage others to do the same.

“I asked him one day why there’s nobody at any of these beautiful spots. And that just became the catalyst to try and get people out and see how many people we can get out,” said Zeiler, 48, who moved to the Island from Red Deer, Alta.

Zeiler and his friend Kevin Driver, 44, both silversmiths, started a large-scale treasure hunt, dropping handmade pieces of silver in parks and beaches around Nanaimo. The first piece, a one-ounce silver bar, was dropped at Neck Point last week.

“We always carry silver with us because we make it and it was just a last-minute decision when I was in the park one day to drop one at Neck Point,” said Zeiler, who owns Black Label Bullion. “People came out in droves to try and find it.”

It was found the same day they hid it. The woman who found it quickly sold it. Zeiler said it was worth about $40.

He’s now making pieces specifically for the treasure hunt.

He and Driver, who owns Westkoast Melts and Bullion, dropped the next piece, this time three ounces of silver worth about $140, at Transfer Beach Park. They visit the areas where they hide the treasures during the search, under the guise of participating in the hunt, to check that the piece is still in place.

Zeiler met the couple who found the silver on Transfer Beach just moments after they made their discovery; they told him they had looked for eight hours. “People are happy to be getting out. They’re bringing their kids out. They’re doing things they haven’t done in a while and seeing places they haven’t seen in a while and it’s working great,” Zeiler said.

The latest treasure hunt started Tuesday evening at ­Pipers Lagoon Park, and the silver had not been found as of late Thursday afternoon, despite “absolutely hundreds” of people looking, Zeiler said.

He posts the location of each treasure hunt to a Facebook page called I Love Vancouver Island, where the posts receive hundreds of comments from excited treasure hunters. He has also started a page dedicated to the adventure, called Vancouver Island Treasure Hunting.

Zeiler is taking donations to help defray the cost of the treasure hunt through his company at

[email protected]

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